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Demonstrators Join National Movement to Rally for Clean Energy

Posted: Updated: Aug 30, 2016 10:05 PM
Demonstrators rallied in Afton as part of Hands Across Our Land Demonstrators rallied in Afton as part of Hands Across Our Land
Demonstrators rallied in Afton as part of the Hands Across Our Land movement Demonstrators rallied in Afton as part of the Hands Across Our Land movement
Jennifer Lewis, president and founder of Friends of Augusta Jennifer Lewis, president and founder of Friends of Augusta
AFTON, Va. (WVIR) -

A growing national movement is drawing people from seven states around the country to join hands against their community's pipelines, coal ash, and fracking.

Demonstrators are rallying from North Carolina to Maryland, West Virginia to Georgia, and central Virginia is no exception.

"No to pipelines, no to fracking, no more fossil fuel development. We need to start thinking about renewables,” said Jennifer Lewis, president and founder of Friends of Augusta.

Participants of Hands Across Our Land issued three demands. Elected officials must opposed gas and oil projects that hurt citizens and the economy, stop reckless coal ash disposal that pollute rivers and drinking water, and reduce clime changing pollution from power plants.

Friends of Nelson, Augusta, and Buckingham say they want their elected officials to know they're not standing idly by in their fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

"It re-energizes my fight and my motivation to keep fighting against this pipeline when I see other communities that have been successful, that are fighting working hard together,” Lewis said.

With the Blue Ridge Parkway in the background, activists held hands in solidarity with people in Maryland, who are battling a new liquid natural gas export, and those dealing with the effects of fracking in West Virginia.

“It's a terrifying thing to think you're in this alone and people need to know they're not,” said Heidi Cochran, who lives in Nelson County.

Cochran lives in Nelson County, along route originally proposed for the ACP 

“I was sued, I was denied access, denied survey,” Cochran said. “I have stayed in the fight - there's other people out there that's just like me."

In a statement to NBC29, Dominion Energy says, “We respect everyone's right to express their views. While there are some in the community who are opposed, there are tens of thousands of people, businesses, and labor organizations across Virginia who strongly support this project. Thanks to our declining use of coal and our increasing use of natural gas, this month the U.S. reached a 25 year low in carbon emissions."

Demonstrators asked that Dominion pay attention to the harmful effects of the ACP. Some even wore animal masks, saying they're speaking for the animals who cannot speak for themselves.

“Start trying to live with some human decency and enjoy our experience on earth,” said Mark Kersey, who attended the demonstration.

“We're all going at it in different ways, and we're all trying to support each other,” Cochran said.

In an email to NBC29, Dominion says it's made major steps forward in 2016 alone, but says they still need to make more progress and the ACP is going to play a major role.

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