With MVP approved by the Supreme Court, Larkin and others appear to have only one thing left to do. That is, putting their bodies in gear in the hope of slowing them down for at least one more day, every day, for as long as possible, and if there’s no other way, by force.
“We knew from the beginning that if people had any hope of fighting back, there would be battles that would require escalating levels of resistance,” Larkin said.
Despite the risks, Larkin and many others feel they are taking control of their future and dignity. When we fight, we win, they say, and fossil fuel companies would do well to know that their encroachments will not go unchallenged. Larkin also believes this will hinder future MVP projects. Without organized opposition, she believes the entire regulatory system will continue to rubber-stamp approvals until the ocean floods Washington.
“The old folks who don’t think about the future are ruining everything for all of us,” Larkin said. “We should really be angry. Using our bodies to do this and get in the way.”
She knew she was not far away from becoming the target of Valley Pipeline’s wrath. Over the years, she has witnessed friends being locked up and beaten at various protests, which sometimes makes her feel old. After fighting for so long, her knees and back ached, and she couldn’t spend hours sitting on the floor drawing banners like she used to. When she began this work, she quickly became burned out and believed that if she didn’t give everything she had, the world would be destroyed.
“When it’s so obvious that the world is on fire, you really feel like you have to put it all on the table right away,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Why think about the future? We don’t have a future,’ that kind of thing. Eight years later, we arrive at this battle. “
Yet, even now, there are times when that pipeline seems inevitable, when she feels the joy of taking a stand, making a lifelong friend, or doing the right thing.
“I really enjoyed seeing the dawn of the new lockdown that was put in place at night,” Larkin said with a smile. “I think the other thing that I enjoyed was that I got to really get to know my neighbors, and the people in the community and build relationships with them. A real relationship of trust and solidarity, otherwise I wouldn’t have known them.”
The pace is fast and emotions are high, Larkin said, but the stakes have long felt high. She has watched friends become sick from exhaustion and the environmental risks of living near the poverty line, and she has watched some die from environmental illnesses as well as stress and poverty diseases. When trying to pinpoint exactly why the fight has lasted so long, Larkin points to the constant influx of new activists, especially energetic young people from nearby towns and universities and other similar movements.