One neighbor shares the devastating impact of Mountain Valley Pipeline construction on her animals and family
As I sit here this evening, the actions of Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, and their contractors over the past year run through my thoughts, upsetting the peaceful feelings I have always enjoyed by living in the country. About this time last year, I had my first contact with Bob Bell with Coates Field Services, an MVP contractor, concerning my horses.
My horses have been kept in the fields of a neighbor and lifetime friend, and Mountain Valley had bought a right-of-way through these 2 fields. Bob said that although Mountain Valley would block my horses from any pasture land while they did work, the company would supply feed in the meantime.
Well, that didn’t happen. For two-and-a-half months, I had to supply grain for my horses so they wouldn’t starve. Mountain Valley finally began supplying feed in July 2018. He also informed me that since I was not the landowner in question, I would have no issues to worry about – boy if that were only true.
In the beginning, we asked them to buy us out as I just knew there would be trouble on top of trouble, and that is still the case; but instead they assured me that my family would have no problems. WOW, was that a lie.
The current problem is the fact that we agreed to put the horses in our backyard. They went from acres of grazing land to about 1 acre – for three horses. We own no shelter in our yard that is suitable for horses.
A Mountain Valley representative told us they would supply the needs of the horses while they are in the backyard – another lie, as they are now refusing to give the funds needed to build a shelter. They also destroyed the shelter in the pasture, so now we must have something for there, too.
We offered a proposal where they would give the funds to build a three-stall shelter on sleds, so that when the horses go back into the field, we would move the shelter to the fields so they would have shelter. Mountain Valley refused the proposal.
This is animal abuse, negligence, and poor relations. In the beginning, we offered to put the horses on another neighbor’s land while Mountain Valley was working here; all they had to do was supply the needed fencing materials. The horses would have been in a pasture so there would have been less hay involved, and more. They said no, then later came back and asked if we would do it, but lied and misrepresented the date they wanted to blast, giving us two days to get the fence built and we said no as it couldn’t be done that fast and we had offered this solution in the first place.
Our horses had a natural shelter with trees overhead, which Mountain Valley destroyed when they cut down the trees down. One night we had cold rains and high winds – my horses had nowhere to get out of the weather because Mountain Valley decided to rescind their word. Luckily, our neighbors let us use a shelter on their land afterwards and for the time being. But once Mountain Valley leaves, my husband and I will have to bear the expense of building this shelter when it wouldn’t have been needed without Mountain Valley coming here in the first place.
Two of our horses were rescued from abusive situations. Our third horse is with us because his former owner has severe medical problems and felt we would give the horse a good home.
This shelter issue is just the latest of the various problems we have suffered at the hands of Mountain Valley Pipeline developers. Here is a list of the struggles they have put us through:
- They didn’t supply the feed as promised for several months, which is animal abuse.
- They fenced our oldest horse (30-plus-years-old and blind in one eye) away from food and shelter, during a snowstorm, never informing us that this was done. Of course, the horse overexerted himself running back and forth, so I had to put him on antibiotic shots to ensure he didn’t develop pneumonia. I called and complained about this abusive-negligent behavior.
- To fix the problem, Mountain Valley came back and fenced the horse away from water – again not notifying us that they had done so. Again, animal abuse and negligence.
- Storm, our second-oldest horse, was in a pen because Mountain Valley felt an orange plastic fence was enough to hold horses – which of course it wasn’t, and Storm kept tearing it down. To make matters worse, Mountain Valley fenced our oldest horse away from water multiple times, and he’s not the type to tear fences down.
With that and Storm having lost weight and muscle mass while in the pen, we moved Storm back into the field and he kept a path open to the pond for both horses by tearing fence down. Mountain Valley got an attitude because he kept tearing the fence down. We now keep plastic water containers by the horses which we fill every day.
- The working area was not safe for horses, and after being informed that the older horse (blind in one eye) would kick if startled, Mountain Valley allowed their staff to mess with the horses by petting them and walking around them with no thought given to the liability issues of this behavior.
- Mountain Valley shorted out our electric fence charger by wrapping an electrified wire around a metal fence post – which could have burned our house to the ground. On a separate occasion, they laid electrified fencing in water, almost ruining a friend’s electric charger that we had borrowed. If an animal had gotten into the water, it could have killed it or even killed a person with a weak heart. They replaced our charger with a solar one, which we insisted on because two negligent actions of possibly burning our house down was enough.
- Mountain Valley cut our fencing and left the jobsite in the evening without repairing the fence – leaving it wide open for the horses to walk right out of the field. Several evenings after they left we had to go and tie the fence up. Again, total negligent behavior; had there been an accident involving the horses, it would have been our responsibility.
- Mountain Valley discussed the care of my horses with the landowners without us present, which caused problems. The landowners are wonderful people and would never do anything to harm the horses, but the fact remains that some of the plans just were not feasible, and it was negligence on the part of Mountain Valley not to discuss our horses with us.
- At one point, two men came to speak with us who represented themselves as staff with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They offered solutions to some problems, none of which were ever put into effect. When we called FERC to ask about this, they said that those people were not with the agency — meaning they were Mountain Valley employees or contractors falsely identifying themselves as representatives of a federal agency. You would think FERC would be furious with Mountain Valley for impersonating federal staff members, but then again, FERC has allowed them to do whatever they want without consequences.
- The stress from all of this has greatly aggravated my diabetes and high blood pressure to the point where my life is in danger. The average dose of Novolog is 3 to 5 units per dose. I am taking 25 units of insulin four to five times a day, along with my other diabetes medication. I take more in one dose than most take in two or three days.
Arietta’s rescue dog Buck before the incident when a Mountain Valley contractor intentionally hit Buck with their vehicle. Buck survived with scars on his legs. Photo courtesy of Arietta Ann DuPre
I watched a pickup truck owned by Trinity – a Mountain Valley contractor – drive off the road to hit my dog Buck last summer. It didn’t kill him or anything, it scratched him up pretty good though. He’s got a couple scars over it. I just cannot understand the mentality of wanting to hurt an animal. It’d be different if he’d been violent at them, but he’d just barked and chased their vehicles. They’re on what he considers his territory. He never attempted to bite any of them.
It’s to the point where when they’re working, I won’t leave the house. One of us stays at the house at all times, because if they’ll run out of the road to hit one of my animals, what else will they do? We won’t leave the house when they’re working up here. So I spent most of my summer right here, not going anywhere.
- They almost killed my husband and I when we were pulling out of our driveway on a 4-wheeler. Our driveway sits between 2 blind curves; Mountain Valley workers came roaring around the corner on a rainy day, and if my husband hadn’t sped onto a neighbor’s property, we would have been killed or severely maimed. The workers just laughed and drove off. FERC posted 25 MPH speed signs for the staff to obey, but they don’t even pay attention to these signs. Mountain Valley seems to feel they don’t even have to listen to FERC anymore.
- They have run us, and most people around here, off the road too many times to count. They caused damage to my son’s car and to date will not pay for the damage. It has become life-threatening to drive on our one-lane road.
- They hit and damaged our mailbox, and have yet to offer to make amends.
- They took it upon themselves to tell us that we could not let the horses in a very small section of field for a couple of days a week – with us home to watch them. This land is not part of their right-of-way, it belongs to the landowner who had already given us permission to use it.
- The horses are getting a special feed mix as we have to make up for loss of grass nutrients. Being in this small area and with no way to exercise, the horses are starting to exhibit aggressive behaviors. It wouldn’t be so bad if we could ride them and exercise them, but there is entirely too much negligent behavior on behalf of Mountain Valley for that to happen.
- Mountain Valley’s staff are riding over the pipeline most every day in helicopters. They started out flying low and directly over my horses’ place in the yard – spooking the horses – and circling a couple of times. There is no need for them to do this as the horses are not near enough to the work area.
I’ve reached out to just about all of our local and state representatives — and none of them have been willing to help.
We had a state representative that wasn’t even from this district that came down here and talked to us. But we can’t even get our own governor or our own local representatives to come and talk to us.
Where are my local legislators? Why aren’t they here? Everybody here complains about their driving. Why haven’t our local legislators and congressmen been down here?
When I called Gov. Jim Justice’s office, I got ahold of a woman and told her what Mountain Valley had done. She just told me, “I’ll tell Gov. Justice that you don’t want jobs in West Virginia.”
It’s sad that our governor, our congressmen, didn’t take part and say look: this is the way you’ve got to treat the people here. You can’t walk all over these people, you can’t do this. But it’s the same old adage; money talks, B.S. walks.
I called the West Virginia office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and was basically told that problems with Mountain Valley are not under their jurisdiction. I called the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and got just as much.
FERC hasn’t been much help either as they seem to be able to give Mountain Valley permission to do just about anything, even basically break the laws. But when you contact them concerning these various negligent, illegal, unethical and immoral behaviors, their response is “we can’t do anything about that.”
Well if the commission can’t make them abide by simple rules, then the commission shouldn’t be able to give them permission to drill and place pipelines – and they especially shouldn’t be able to allow pipeline companies to steal people’s land through eminent domain.
If you have been experiencing problems with Mountain Valley or any other government-approved entity or government office, PLEASE, send letters to the papers, the television stations, radio stations, etc. Put copies of your letters in local businesses – get the word out. Your silence is just as bad as what is being done to you. We still have our right to free speech – and while we do, use it to help right injustices.
Protecting the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountain Region
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