Appalachians Against Pipelines
Jim Willis on NGL Pipelines
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
[Editor’s Note: Special interests out to score trillions by raiding public treasuries and consumers’ pocketbooks are creating climate anxiety and we know who is doing it.]
Antis love to work in anonymity. Some of them anyway. They love to anonymously lob lies and smears on Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms about projects like the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project. Just who is behind those social media accounts? MVP wants to know and has filed a subpoena in federal court asking Facebook to disclose who is behind the Facebook group Appalachians Against Pipelines.
Facebook is only too happy to block conservative groups, but for some strange reason, Facebook likes to protect leftists. It’s called censorship and under our Constitution should be illegal. We’ll see if Facebook complies with the court order to disclose the identities of those behind the anti-MVP group.
We wonder if, when you start pulling on the strings, you’ll find ultimately it is foreign money funding some of these groups. We’re not saying it necessarily will be the case for Appalachians Against Pipelines, but often it is foreign money that supports anti-shale efforts in this country.
At any rate, it will be interesting to see what a bright spotlight (public disclosure) forces out of the shadows, as this Roanoke Times article shows:
Very little is publicly known about a very public critic of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Appalachians Against Pipelines established a Facebook page in February 2018, about the time that tree-sitters began their efforts to block construction of the massive natural gas pipeline.
Since then, the group has used social media as a megaphone to promote its agenda, while otherwise remaining largely invisible.
Mountain Valley is trying to find out who they are. In a subpoena recently filed in Roanoke’s federal court, the company asks Facebook to reveal the names and telephone numbers of those who established and maintain a page that has more than 21,000 followers.
Appalachians Against Pipelines says the subpoena is nothing more than an effort to intimidate and silence them — a position shared by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for privacy and free speech on the internet.
“It generally gives us concern when we see a company like MVP trying to unmask its critics,” said Adam Schwartz, a senior attorney with the San Francisco-based foundation.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the rights of critics to remain unnamed, noting that the practice can be traced back to the founders of the nation who published newspaper pieces anonymously out of fear of retaliation from the King of England.
In order for a company like Mountain Valley to acquire the names of the administrators of a Facebook page, it must meet a high standard of showing that its needs or concerns outweigh the First Amendment rights of the commenters, Schwartz said.
“The right to stay anonymous is not absolute,” he said.
Schwartz said it is not unheard of for a company to seek information about its opponents from the social media outlets they use. When a subpoena is contested, judges make case-by-case decisions.
Mountain Valley declined to comment Friday, saying that “details regarding any pending or potential litigation efforts cannot be provided at this time.”
The subpoena was filed Aug. 20 in connection with a pending case in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, where the company has been at odds for years with the owners of a Bent Mountain property through which the pipeline needs to pass.
Coles and Theresa “Red” Terry became concerned when construction crews began drilling through bedrock on their land last month in preparation for blasting to clear a path for the buried, 42-inch pipe.
They filed a request for an injunction to stop the blasting, saying that it threatened to contaminate their well water. The request was denied Aug. 13 by District Judge Elizabeth Dillon.
One week later, Mountain Valley filed its own request for an injunction, asking Dillon to order that protesters of the pipeline not interfere with work on the Terry property.
“On Aug. 11, in order to prevent the blasting from proceeding, protesters were invited to the property to position themselves along the edge of the easements,” the motion states. “Messages were posted on social media asking readers to join the protest.”
The motion does not mention Appalachians Against Pipelines.
But in an Aug. 11 post to the group’s Facebook page, a “call for support” suggested that supporters of the Terrys show up at their property, and instructed them to the page of another group, Water Is Life Protect It, for directions.
The subpoenas issued to Facebook ask for the administrators of both groups’ pages. Efforts to reach Water is Life Protect It for this story were unsuccessful.
Mountain Valley contends that the protesters — some of whom stood within 50 feet of live explosives while smoking cigarettes — were creating a risk to themselves and pipeline workers.
Dillon is being asked to order any observers on the Terry property to “remain a safe distance from blasting on the project.” The motion also asks that Coles and Red Terry be held in contempt of court for violating an earlier order that gave Mountain Valley possession of a 125-foot wide easement through their land under the laws of eminent domain.
Joe Sherman, a Norfolk attorney who represents the Terrys, said Friday that Mountain Valley is seeking an injunction that would give it control of private property beyond the reach of its easement.
“The Court should decline the invitation to read ambiguous power into MVP’s easement documents. MVP must revise its own easement if it needs to restrict the use of private property beyond the pipeline project corridor,” he wrote in an email.
Sherman also voiced concerns about another subpoena, this one issued to Red Terry seeking her social media comments and other information, including a list of visitors to her property.
Terry said Friday that she doesn’t spend much time on Facebook, and that her only goal was to protect the water on rural property that has been in her family for seven generations.
“They [Mountain Valley] want to create the illusion that I’m out here just raising hell,” said Terry, who in 2018 spent more than a month in a tree stand in effort to prevent tree-cutting on her land.
Appalachians Against Pipelines said in a statement that it will continue to share information about grassroots opposition to the 303-mile pipeline on social media.
“This isn’t the first time that MVP has used intimidation tactics to try to stop resistance to the pipeline, and it won’t be the last,” the statement read.
No date has been scheduled for a hearing on Mountain Valley’s request for an injunction that would keep protesters away from its blasting sites. The subpoenas to Facebook demand that the social media giant produce the requested information by Sept. 17.
When someone sets up a page on Facebook, they are given the option of whether or not they want to be publicly identified or not. Appalachians Against Pipelines chose the latter, it said.
Usually when a subpoena is issued, Facebook will inform administrators of its pages, Schwartz said. It is then up to the individuals to challenge the subpoena.
One administrator of the Facebook page had not heard anything from the company by Friday, a spokesperson for the group said. Facebook had not responded by Friday evening to two emails sent by The Roanoke Times.
Appalachians Against Pipelines has been a vocal critic of the pipeline, which has come under fierce fire for its use of eminent domain to take private property, failures to control muddy runoff from construction sites, and contribution to climate change.
But its approach is different from other organizations such as the Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights coalition and Wild Virginia, who among others have actively participated in public meetings and filed legal challenges of the permits issued to the pipeline.
The main sign of Appalachians Against Pipelines has been its presence on social media.
Occasionally, it will issue news releases when there is a protest, such as a recent blockade on Poor Mountain by three people who occupied a junked car parked in the pipeline right of way.
The spokesperson for Appalachians Against Pipelines, who asked to remain anonymous, declined to answer questions about the group’s organizational structure, such as whether it has officers or a formal membership list.
But, the statement said, “This campaign, and the dozens of other struggles against pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure across the continent, are stronger than MVP and others want people to believe.”
Why would the people behind the Facebook group not want to be publicly known? What are they trying to hide?
Editor’s Note: Note the last paragraph of the story of the news story. The folks behind Appalachians Against Pipelines are more than happy to reveal themselves to media who then protect their identity. They both want the freedom to attack without consequences. One is not entitled to know his accuser under their rules. “People say” is enough.
Nonetheless, we do know a little bit more about Appalachians Against Pipelines. The Facebook page provides a link to their fund-raising page at something called the Action Network with all donations going through Rising Tide North America. There is also an “About” page at Action Network and a link to a further information on their “model.” Here are some revealing bits of commentary from these pages (emphasis added):
We are Action Network, a mission-driven organization dedicated to building progressive power. Our goal is to empower progressive activism through organizing, mobilization, and digital strategies — anything that brings people together and motivates them to act for progressive change…
Since launching in 2012, the Action Network toolset has powered many of the largest mobilizations of the last decade, including the Black Friday Walmart Strikes, the Women’s March, and the Climate Strike. The Action Builder toolset, launched in 2019, is helping dozens of unions and progressive organizations develop and empower leaders and build strong, deep organizing campaigns.
Our toolsets are owned by our company Action Squared, which in turn is wholly owned by our 501(c)(4) parent organization Action Network. Action Squared builds digital tools in collaboration with progressive organizations that hundreds of organizations use to mobilize supporters and organize activists around progressive causes. Action Network Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the sister organization of Action Network dedicated to helping progressive organizations incorporate organizing strategies alongside their mobilization, digital, and data programs in order to build progressive power…
We believe this growth-first, capital-backed model is wrong for the movement. That’s why we, in partnership with the AFL-CIO, developed a new-to-us model of cooperative design. Our shared goal: to create progressive movement technology that would be sustainable, responsive to movement needs, and reliably progressive…
We need a different model. One that gets the benefits of scale that technology companies offer but maintains progressive control. One where we can invest our resources confidently, knowing that the company won’t service Republicans...
Don’t default into a corporate, growth-focused, capitalist model.
Appalachians Against Pipelines, in other words, is just a front group for a radical Democrat, anti-Republican and anti-capitalist enterprise that is essentially Marxist. That it is partnered with the AFL-CIO ought to open eyes in every trade union. The AFL-CIO is actively contributing to killing pipelines and blue collar trade union jobs. It is selling out workers while pretending to represent them.
This isn’t all, though. Rising Tide North America is funded by the Tides Foundation (a money laundering entity that hides its funders) and the Levinson Foundation. Tides, in turn, is closely associated with Warren Buffett’s trust-funder children, Read all about Rising Tide North America here, here and here. The people behind Appalachians Against Pipelines, therefore, are the usual suspects; big money people out to make even more by various scams, spoiled children of wealth, Democrat party operatives, useful idiot ideologues and NIMBYs. They come in that order, too, but the money that drives it all at the outset comes from investors who see oil and gas standing in the way of their big opportunity to score with green energy scams. And, as for the Electronic Frontier Foundation? Well, that is a Big Tech operation it appears. See what I mean? It’s always about the money.
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