THE GOOD: No pipelines

It’s a bad week to be a pipeline but a good week to be a human who cares about clean air and water. On July 5—shortly, if coincidentally, after we published a long story on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s opponents—Duke Energy and Dominion Energy canceled construction of the ACP, the natural gas pipeline that would have cut across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The two utility giants cited delays and mounting costs; however, the news also followed six years of organizing from environmental activists and the rural communities who would’ve been caught in the toxic crosshairs. The next day, on July 6, a district court ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down, pending an environmental review. That shutdown, too, came after years of tireless grassroots activism led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Indigenous and environmental activists. 

THE BAD: Anti-mask elected officials

Western North Carolina turned out by the hundreds to see Lt. Governor Dan Forest at a July 4 campaign event in Hendersonville. The Trump-backed Republican nominee for governor shook hands, took pictures, and defended the lack of masks at the packed event, stating, “There have been multiple comprehensive studies at the deepest level, held to scientific standards in controlled environments, that have all said for decades, masks do not work with viruses. That’s why we’ve never used a mask for a coronavirus before, ever.” The wildly irresponsible statement was made as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to break records: As of July 3, the state had reported 70,241 cases and 1,392 deaths from COVID-19 and has continued to miss major benchmarks for tracking the spread of the virus. It’s worth noting that Forest, despite stating that masks do not “work with viruses,” sells branded face masks on his website. 

THE AWFUL: ICE vs. students

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced on July 6 that students on visas must leave the country unless they are taking classes in person. The policy seems to be a clear attempt to force the hand of the 4,298 colleges and universities that are expected to shift online in the fall, and which rely on tuition. For students attending universities that are opting to offer in-person classes in addition to online classes, it forces them to make a potentially life-or-death decision between attending classes or leaving the country. The Trump administration has imposed a number of cruel immigration restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. Let’s say it again louder for those in the back: Abolish ICE. 

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