To President Joe Biden From West Virginians


On May 25, OVEC sent an open letter to President Biden on behalf of about one hundred individuals and organizations concerned about continued pipeline development across West Virginia and the region. Below, read the letter, penned by OVEC Volunteer Mary Wildfire, asking for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels, and a switch to clean, safe renewable energy.

At this link, you may read the original letter Senator Joe Manchin sent to President Biden on February 9, 2021.

TO: President Joe Biden
CC: Senator Joe Manchin
       Cecilia R. Martinez, PhD, Senior Director for Environmental Justice, CEQ
       (Council on  Environmental Quality)

Dear President Biden,

This letter is in response to one sent by Joe Manchin on February 9, 2021, in which he urged the continued building of pipelines for fossil fuels, citing safety, energy security and jobs as reasons for his support of pipelines.

We are West Virginia residents, and we are speaking up because, in this, Joe Manchin does not represent us.

Pipelines in West Virginia—and nationwide—are intended to move the gas, oil and bitumen obtained from fracking operations in our communities elsewhere, even to the East and Gulf coasts for possible export.

While Senator Manchin addressed safety questions in his letter to you, he didn’t mention the harms done to people’s wellbeing when pipeline companies are granted eminent domain rights to seize their property and put a potentially dangerous pipeline a short distance from their homes, schools and places of work or worship. Nor did he mention that the point of more pipelines is to perpetuate fracking, despite an increasingly massive record of evidence that it harms the people who live nearby, as well as the water, the wildlife, human health, and the climate. No doubt he’s right that conveying a given quantity of fuels via pipeline is safer than via truck or train. We are not asking for a switch to using trucks or trains; we are asking for a phase-out of fossil fuels, and a switch to clean, safe renewable energy.

Yes, there are currently a lot of jobs in the fossil fuel sector. However, many of those jobs are temporary and are filled by out-of-state workers. There are many more potential jobs in renewable energy, which is more labor intensive and less capital intensive than fossil fuels. The reality is that this country has neglected its existing utility pipelines that serve all citizens, including water and sewage lines, for a long time. If your administration is going to do something about this, instead of just talking about it, there will be quite a lot of jobs for pipeline workers, working on projects that benefit ordinary people and our future economic well being instead of for profiteers and polluters.

If we are going to switch to solar and wind power in time to stave off the worst of looming fossil-fuel related climate impacts, we need to pick up the pace of constructing and installing these systems, and at this stage that means powering many new factories with fossil fuel. Why not build a short pipeline, here in West Virginia, to a new factory producing one of these components that will power our renewable energy future?

Senator Manchin also referenced the idea that we need to exploit domestic fossil fuels as an alternative to dependence on foreign sources. However, the reality is that the oil and gas industries have lost profitability due to falling demand and overproduction. In fact, many of these pipelines are actually intended to facilitate export. Again, the alternative to doubling down on fossil fuel extraction and pipelines is not importing fossil fuels from elsewhere; it’s stepping up the conversion to renewable sources, along with a push for energy efficiency in buildings and appliances, and electrification.

Along with the local harms that gas drilling, fracking and pipelines inflict on communities there is also the dangerous perpetuation of the global harm from greenhouse gas emissions. Many studies, such as those done by professors Ingaffea and Howarth, have shown that the greenhouse impact of natural gas is no less than that of coal. Scientists have been giving increasingly shrill warnings about the damage and the risks of climate change. The burning of fossil fuels is the top contributor to climate change.

The time to begin a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, if we have any respect for science and any concern for future generations, is yesterday. But we didn’t do it. So let us begin today, and let West Virginia, at last, be part of the solution. We don’t want to see the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) completed. We don’t want to see a petrochemical complex built all along the already heavily polluted Ohio River largely for plastic production. We want to see the subsidies ($20 billion annually to fossil fuel industries) directed instead to new businesses building clean energy components, and alternatives to plastic.

Joe Manchin may not be ready to leave the twentieth century behind, but West Virginia is!


West Virginians and Others in Ohio and Pennsylvania Affected by Oil and Gas:

Mary Wildfire OVEC volunteer
Vivian Stockman OVEC-Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Dr. Randi Pokladnik Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition member
Eric Engle Chairman, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action
Allen Johnson Eight Rivers Council
Leslee McCarty None
Sarah Carballo Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Staff
Mirijana Beram WV pipeline impacted resident
Cindy Taylor  
Howdy Henritz  
Cynthia D. Ellis  
Francis Sullivan  
Janet Keating WV resident, OVEC member
Dawn Weidner  
S. Thomas Bond Alert individual
Rebecca Ellis Concerned West Virginian
Kathryn Lambdin  
Patricia Gundrum  
Aileen Curfman  
Dennis G Hatcher  
Daniella Parent  
Yarnell WV Wilderness Coalition
Maggie Louden  
Denise Elliott Individual
Kevin Campbell Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
Chuck Wyrostok Board Member, WV Environmental Council
Melissa and Todd Waggy WV Residents
Christina Melocik  
Stephen Southworth Constituent
Judith Peascoe Individual
Carol Workman Women’s March West Virginia – Beckley
Kathy Rutledge West Virginian
Elizabeth Sutton  
Lissa Lucas WV Can’t Wait
Donna Miller West Virginia citizen
Ben Kessler Private citizen
Jean Ambrose Mid Ohio Valley Climate Action
Elizabeth Forester West Virginian citizen
Martha Shamberger Concerned Citizen
Stephanie Brock  
Gregg Lowley  
Elizabeth Dennis  
Holley Whitley OVEC Member
Jo B. Brown WVU Libraries
Robin Asbury  
Teresa Parcell  
Denise E Binion Chair, West Virginia Mountain (Green) Party
Joel Brown  
Abigail Minihan Sierra Club
Tracy Marsh  
Matthew Arnold  
Christopher L Wolford  
John W. Doyle  
Robin Blakeman  
Marty Belcher  
Denise Boyce  
Leah Rampy  
Eileen Padgett  
Mark Schmerling Self and others
Donald R. Criss  
Monet Stansbury Climate Reality Cincinnati chapter
Debbie Naeter  
Dick Coin NEO Climate Reality Co-Chair
Rachael Hood West Virginia University
Lydia Patton  
Colby Ferraris  
George Little  
Karen Combs  
R. Zierikzee Family lives in WV
Herbert Reid  
Pamela Nixon  
Mary Kyle Miller  
Gail L Kohlorst Eastern Panhandle Group, WV Sierra Club
Carli Mareneck landowner
Lydia Garvey concerned citizen
Vickie Wolfe Citizen
Charles Delaney  
Ruth Hatcher  
Dennis Hatcher  
Christine Mitsch Concerned Northern Panhandle resident
Carol Nix West Virginia resident, concerned citizen
Linda N Kato  
Dakota Maddox  
Michael Miller  
Barry Wendell  
David Waugh Concerned WV resident
Robert A. Mertz  
Serdar Cetinbas  
Mark Connelly Individual
Sara Wilts  
John W. Doyle  
Edward J Lynch West Virginian
Dawn Weidber  
Giulia Mannarino Concerned citizen of West Virginia
Kathryn A. Stone Environmental Advocates
Chelsea Cavlovic  
Carli Mareneck WV citizen
Larry & Evelyn Dadisman OVEC members
Chuck Conner Concern global citizen
Anna Marie Smucker All Saints Church Social Justice Committee
Carol Nix West Virginia Citizen
Julie du Bois  
Debbie Naeter  
Tom Degen West Virginia resident, retired recycling center operator
Ellis Keyes Cook Keyes Land Inc.
Christine Mitsch  
Marianne Hughes  
David Waugh  
J Ammon  
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