There is so much to be thankful for this year. The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled again in our favor against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, citing The Lorax, written in 1971 by Dr. Suess. This ruling and The Lorax made national news. Rare birds stopped by Swoope on their journey north and Bald Eagles built a nest on the farm. There are three surprises at the end—pictures of hope. Read on.
The Lorax Tops the News
This year, I am in awe and so thankful for the lawyers, activists, and organizations that protect our water resources and for federal judges Thacker, Winn, and Gregory of the U.S. Fourth Circut Court of Appeals. They worked hard to seek out the truth, in the statutes, and in deeds for what the fracked-gas pipeline utilities are trying to do—ram their unwanted, unneeded, and dangerous pipelines of greed through land that they don’t own. Sad, that we have to use litigation, the tool of last resort to protect the water we drink, swim in, fish from and enjoy, from the jaws of corporate greed and bought politicians.
The picture of the year for me, is the one of my friend and former student Celeste Horton, hugging Ona, an old growth Sugar Maple in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This tree along with hundreds of others, older than this country, will be cut down if Dominion gets their way. Ona resides on the land owned by Bill and Lynn Limpert in Bath County, Virginia.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Vacates Forest Service Permit For the ACP
In one of several vacated permits, Judge Thacker scolded the U.S. Forest Service:
We trust the United States Forest Service to “speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”
The quote is from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax written in 1971. Judge Thacker’s opinion and this quote made national news in our fight against Dominion and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
I confess I had not read this classic environmental children’s fable until this decision. In ’71 I was a sophomore in high school worried about other things like the Vietnam War and the draft.
The Lorax is a must read for everyone. Dr. Suess so eloquently details the plight of corporate greed and the poor souls in their way. The Lorax’s last words:
UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
We’ve been fighting the fracked-gas pipelines in Virginia for four years now. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is stopped in all three states at the moment because of our great lawyers, the courts, and activists.
We stopped Dominion in Augusts County, Virginia, in two places where they wanted to create contractor yards in inappropriate places. First in Churchville then West Augusta. One courageous Board of Zoning Appeals member said,
“It’s hard for me to support something nobody is in favor of.”
The list of activists, lawyers and organizations is long but include The Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Voices, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Wild Virginia, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance and The Sierra Club.
To help us protect our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay from the mayhem of construction these pipelines will bring, please give generously to any of these fine organizations.
Rare Birds and Bald Eagles in Swoope
I had never seen an Upland Sandpiper until this year. Jeanne and I were checking the cows during calving season on March 31 and I spotted the rare migrating bird walking around in the pasture poking its beak in the manure piles and remnants of hay.
Sandhill Cranes also stopped by for a visit on an island in a nearby pond.
Earlier this year the tree that held the nest of the Bald Eagles of Swoope blew down. It was on a nearby farm and we all wondered if the Eagles would re-build.
When Jeanne and Val, our Border Collie were moving one of the cowherds into the fescue field Jeanne called me on my cell phone and exclaimed,
“The Bald Eagles built their nest in the fescue field!”
The Bald Eagle, America’s national bird, is also the symbol of the most successful story of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Rachel Carson ignited the environmental movement in the late ’60s, fostered the banning of DDT and the enactment of the ESA. These two environmental actions brought our national bird from the brink of extinction. Bald Eagles were delisted from the endangered species list in 2007.
To have them nest on our farm gives me great hope and strength to carry on our fight for clean water. Other iconic pictures that were taken this year that fills me with hope:
Merry Christmas and may the new year bring cleaner streams, healthier soils, and peace on Earth.
Great pic of eagles
Thanks for the uplifting news and thanks for speaking up for Mother Earth.
A very upbeat Christmas Post… thank you….
I haver never read The Lorax either, but I will…
Keep on doing what you’rs doing…
Yes, thank you for the hopeful news and special pictures, Bobby. A fine way to begin Christmas Day! Carol T.
Brave of you to admit not having read the Lorax! ?. Warm wishes to you and Jeanne for a wonderful, peaceful holiday season!
Thanks, Beth. I have read it now and sent copies to the kids…
I live along the MVP Route in Monroe County WV.. (Famous for the Peters Mountain Tree Sit and “Grandma in the PINTO” protest. Since the 4th Circuit ruled against the MVP vacating the NWP 12 Permit. MVP has devastated my family farm. They have also burried the pipe in at least two springs on nearby property and blasted through one on my farm. The damaged done since they were “STOPPED” is mind boggling. I invite anyonw who wants to see what is happening in WV to come. I’ll even conduct the MVP Destruction Tour.
Oh, this is so bad and I am so sorry. We must fight on…
What?? You’ve never read “The Lorax?” Shocking! But better late than never. I confess to a chortle when I read a federal judge had called up Seuss as precedent.
But somebody has to speak for the trees, and the USFS was given the job. Let’s hope they do.
Loved the photographs, the joy on all those young faces, and the hope we lift with all our might as we face into the new year. Don’t forget about all those high school students who began tutoring us in how to deal with mass gun violence, and launched into politics to be sure it happens!
Thanks for your spot on message, Anne. Hope you have a great new year.
This was a nice reflection on what truly drives an environmental cause. It is not driven by data or statistics, but by people with hopes and something to fight for.
Also its eerie how certain books and pieces of work are still incredibly relevant today. The Lorax is still relevant as it ever will be and yet it was written decades ago. Some works just seem to transcend time periods because they get the subject matter (or human nature) so right that they just work, regardless of time.
I remember seeing the headline about the pipeline being delayed (or canceled) citing a judge quoting the Lorax and my initial reaction was: nice.
Followed throughout the day by the realization of the gravity of what had just happened. All the data, all the arguments and yet a book from the 70s shined through as the ultimate argument to win. That is incredible.
Right on, Colton. Thanks for your insightful comments. Your opening paragraph rocks.
I love this article because it makes me feel hopeful (just as the title claims!) and today in terms of environmental conversations we rarely talk about what is going right. Instead there seems to be a focus on all that is going wrong, what is going to kill us, and where we are failing as humans to protect our planet, the only planet we have! I often forget how the words of one person, like Rachel Carson, can save an entire species of bird. I wish that more people would have taken Dr. Seuss’ message from The Lorax to heart and demanded our country do more to protect the air, water, and land from industrialization and its inhumane practices. As a Richmond-native, it warms my heart to see people like Judge Thacker fight against the pipeline and call out the people who are attempting to deforest our state, frack our mountains, and who are likely to contaminate our waterways for their crimes. I see myself as a realist, I see both sides, but I understand the reality in our climate fight can be bleak. With leaders like Judge Thacker in office and people like Professor Whitescarver fighting tirelessly for this planet — it gives me hope. Mostly, I am hopeful that this Friday the Supreme Court will stand behind the decision made at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals by Thacker and her colleagues and the end to this Pipeline debate will end for good.
Macon, thank you, for the wonderful messages. I share your hope. I am so proud of you and your generation because you, give me hope. I think we are at a turning point and the driver of this is our youth.