Opposition to a proposed interstate fracked natural gas pipeline that would cut through mountain ridge tops and other environmentally intact landscapes from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina is entering the stage of civil obedience, according to a Baptist church member arrested during a sit-in at the office of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Feb. 2.
Greg Yost, a member of Alliance of Baptists-affiliated Circle of Mercy in Asheville, N.C., was one of 15 protestors charged with second-degree trespassing for remaining in the building after hours, according to local media.
Organized by Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Live, the protest came days after one of the governor’s regulatory commissions granted a key permit needed by Duke Energy to begin cutting down trees and clearing land in eight North Carolina counties for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Yost, a 51-year-old math teacher from Mars Hill, N.C., said the gathering was to send a message to both the governor and Duke Energy that activists are prepared to “get in the way” to stop the 600-mile pipeline to bring fracked natural gas from West Virginia into the Southeast.
“We’re not moving from the governor’s office today,” Yost said.
“We are here to send a message to the governor and to Duke Energy that we are going to get in the way,” Yost said in a Facebook video.
“North Carolina cannot just look the other way on this issue,” Yost said. “Sometimes when you’re trying to do something and trying to do something right, you win a few and you lose a few, but the situation we’re in in North Carolina with this pipeline is we can’t afford to lose this.”
Yost, a veteran environmental protester, said it is “hard to beat back” a pipeline after permits are issued, but he vowed that pipeline opponents are not giving up the fight.
“If it takes getting in the way of construction, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “If it takes getting arrested, that’s what we’re going to do.”