A Mountain Valley Pipeline worker climbs up dangerously close to a tree-sitter’s resistance site, injuring the activist, and endangering both their lives. A report from Jackson Phillips.
On the afternoon of May 25, a hired climber for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project began clearing branches with a saw perilously near an activist 75 feet in the air, in Franklin County, VA.
“Today they showed up and I felt my tree shake. An MVP worker climbed up 10 feet below me telling me that they are going to arrest me, and they are going to drag me out of the tree,” “Ink” said.
Ink told a reporter the situation was then escalated by MVP and Law enforcement: “They began to cut a nearby tree, and I got out on my traverse. I went over and clipped my harness to the trunk. I yelled to alarm them they could kill me if they continued cutting. MVP and US Marshals yelled at the worker to continue,”
In the face of the threat of sacrificing their life, Ink stayed clipped to the oak tree. Undeterred, the MVP worker cut the top quarter of the tree trunk, which then fell on the activist. Despite a bloody wound, the activist had the presence of mind to know if the trunk fell on the worker then they both would be in dire straits over 60 feet from the ground.
“He cut the upper portion of the trunk and it injured me. The [tree trunk’s] weight settled against my ribs. Then, I had to hold the trunk long enough so the MVP worker could get down. If I had dropped the portion of the trunk that I was clipped into, it would have fallen and injured him,” Ink said.
Ink has been up for roughly two weeks as part of a larger blockade resistance in the path of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. As many as nine people have taken to the skies in Appalachia in the past three months. Six tree-sitters have come down under various circumstances, and the flames of resistance have spread at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.
Another activist known as Nutty was perched in a monopod at the top of a 50-foot pole from March 28 to May 23. She came down after being blocked from receiving food and water by law enforcement in Giles County. Three aerial blockaders remain aloft at different sites along the pipeline route in one of the most elaborate environmentalist resistance efforts ever seen.
For now, Ink remains in the sky. 200 feet into West Virginia, off the Appalachian Trail, “Deckard” has been in a tree for 88 days. Another tree-sitter Fern MacDougal recently launched an aerial blockade further up the road that Nutty had been blocking two days before Nutty came down.
As a result of this direct action, MVP still cannot bring construction equipment up Peters Mountain. They are also blocked from bringing extraction equipment or or any drilling infrastructure up to the proposed drill pad site being blocked by Deckard.
For people who want to get involved, there are a variety of tactics. “Spread the word. Talk to your neighbors. We need direct confrontation with those who would destroy this world. You and I were always going to die anyways,” Ink continues, “ It is not particularly important when – what is important is how you live your life.”
“What is important is that you and I are both here now, sharing our existence with each other. One day there will be no trace that humans once dwelled on this planet, yet somehow I am here on this Earth sharing my existence with the rest of you. I intend for that to mean something.”
Those wishing to help can contact the Little Teel Crossing facebook page or Appalachians Against Pipelines facebook page. You can call Governor Northam at 804-786-2211, or the DEQ at (804) 698-4000, or the US Marshals in Roanoke at (540) 857-2230.
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