10 people were arrested Monday after protesters formed a blockade outside Dominion’s riverfront headquarters on Tredegar Street to try to send a message to the power company.
Several groups came together for the event and multiple people were arrested. Protesters tell 8News the main message they want to get across is that they oppose the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Dominion is one of a handful of partners hoping to make the 550-mile pipeline a reality.
In a post on its website about the proposed plan, Dominion says, “Increasing the availability of natural gas supplies in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina is important to the economy and environment of the region. It can mean more jobs, lower prices to heat and power homes and businesses, and cleaner air.”
But protesters say they want the company to rethink its construction. During Monday’s protest, employees were forced to park elsewhere and walk through the commotion to get to work. The group waved flags and held up signs reading, “Coal, oil, gas, none shall pass” and “System change, not climate change.”
Two people were also suspended in harnesses under an overpass. They dangled next to a banner that said, “Stop Selling Our Futures.”
Protester Lauren Chartuk says they were strategically placed.
“Putting them up there, all the employees that walked by had to face them and got to see what our message is,” she said.
Chartuk, who is part of the group Richmond Resistance, says she believes it was a successful tactic.
“We’ve had quite a few people stop and talk to us and ask what it’s about or elaborate or sometimes defend where they work. So, we’ve gotten a lot of different opinions, but I think it started the conversation,” she said.
Protester Wesley Willis says it’s a conversation that everyone should be having.
“Just like any other human being, I’m impacted, future generations are impacted. To me, it’s a no brainer,” he said. “If you eat food, you drink water and you breathe air, environmental issues are your issues.”
Willis, part of Justice RVA, believes sustainable development is important. He says Monday’s event was about more than just resisting the pipeline. He also wants Dominion to invest in renewable energy.
“Investing in a polluting pipeline is not the way to go. We want to see wind and solar and we want to see infrastructure established. We don’t just want renewable sprinkled on top of a giant megapower of fossil fuel. We want the central focus to be developing renewable, sustainable energy,” said Willis.
Prior to the blockade, some protesters attended the Richmond People’s Climate March. They met at 7 a.m. at the state capitol to “sound the alarm” on climate change. They aimed to meet with legislators as they arrived at work. According to a release, they asked them “to spare a few solemn moments in prayer, meditation or simple silence for a sustainable future.”
Last Septemeber, Dominion, AGL Resources, Duke Energy, and Piedmont Natural Resources announced a joint venture to build the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The major natural gas pipeline would go through parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.
According to a release from Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office, constructing the pipeline would put nearly 9,000 people to work, bring $1.42 billion in economic activity to Virginia and generate $14.6 million.
After its completion, the project would support nearly 120 jobs a year, produce $37.8 million per year in ongoing economic activity and generate $233,000 in additional annual state tax revenue. Governor McAuliffe has backed the plan.
In all, Richmond Police arrested ten people during the protest. Nine were arrested for being in the street and received a summons before they were released on scene.
One protester would not accept the summons and was arrested for disorderly conduct.