The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Power and Environmental Justice and Scales of Resistance

Authors: Janee Petersen*, Ohio University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: environmental justice, power, extractive industry, resistance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Natural gas is an abundant resource throughout the United States, but recent technological advances and the current political administrations views surrounding environmental protection have prompted a heightened wave of natural gas extraction and transportation infrastructure. In 2014, energy giant Dominion Energy announced a new energy project, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The pipeline will transport ‘fracked’ natural gas from Ohio and Pennsylvania into Virginia, West Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The ACP will pass through two national forests, private property, an African American community, and Native American lands, creating a unique set of environmental injustices.
Although construction of the ACP has begun, Dominion Energy and state officials continue to face strong opposition from grassroots organizations. I explore this resistance by asking what fears and concerns opponents have about the pipeline’s construction and analyze how these fears shape the type of mobilization occurring and what strategies opponents are utilizing. A political ecology approach with its emphasis on procedural power was used to analyze how capitalist companies are able to disrupt community cohesion and sensitive ecological areas despite strong opposition. I used semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observations, and document analysis of social media, public documents, and news sources to answer my research questions.
I argue that this project has ignited a wide variety of concerns that stem far beyond environmental degradation to include issues of social justice, land ownership and the nature of economic growth. These concerns have sparked unique expressions of resistance such as avid social media campaigns, disruptive protests, and ‘art-activism’.

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