by Jonathan Mingle
Island Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-1-64283-249-5 | Cloth: 978-1-64283-248-8

Imagine one day you receive a letter in the mail that informs you that a large energy company is planning to build a massive pipeline through your property. That surveyors will be coming out soon. That they have the legal right to do so, whether you like it or not, because this project is in the “public interest”—because the pipeline will be carrying natural gas, the so-called “bridge fuel” that politicians on both sides of the aisle have been peddling for decades as the path to a clean, green energy future.

This was the gist of the letter that Dominion Energy sent to thousands of residents living along the path of its proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in 2014, setting off an epic, six-year battle that eventually led all the way to the Supreme Court. That struggle’s epicenter was in the mountains of Virginia, where communities stretching from the Blue Ridge foothills to the Shenandoah Valley and the Allegheny highlands became Dominion’s staunchest foes. On one side was an archetypal Goliath: a power company that commands billions of dollars, the votes of politicians, and the decisions of the federal government. On the other, an army of Davids: lawyers and farmers, conservationists and conservatives, scientists and nurses, innkeepers and lobbyists, families who farmed their land since before the Revolutionary War and those who were not allowed to until after the Civil War.

At stake was not only the future of the communities that lay in the pipeline’s path but the future of American energy. Would the public be swayed by the industry’s decades-long public relations campaign to frame natural gas – a fossil fuel and itself a potent greenhouse gas – as a “solution” to climate change? Or would we recognize it as a methane bomb, capable of not only imperiling local property and upending people’s lives, but of pushing the planet further down the road towards climate chaos?

Vivid and suspenseful, gut-wrenching and insightful, Gaslight is more than the chronicle of a turning point in American history. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the dark, overlooked story of America’s “favorite fossil fuel,” and the immense future stakes of the energy choices we face today.