The following is an update about the ongoing tree sit in West Virginia against the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which has now been active for three weeks and currently is threatened with eviction. For background information on the pipelines threatening Virginia and West Virginia, check out our podcast with local organizers here. Lee la versión en español aquí.
Monday, March 19th 2018.
For 21 days, the tree sit on so-called Peter’s Mountain has been occupying a section of land preventing the Mountain Valley Pipeline from felling trees where they plan to drill beneath the Appalachian Trail. They have faced blizzards and 60 MPH winds, and been greeted with massive community support. As of today, the sitters risk extraction attempts on multiple legal grounds.
On February 26th, Forest Service police informed the tree sitters that they had 21 days to remain in their sits based on federal legislation that places limits on a campsite. The forest service proceeded to enforce a closure of the easement, the access road, and 200 feet surrounding the access road. The sitters have remained strong and active in the closure.
The question of jurisdiction and enforcement remains convoluted. Initially, Monroe County Sheriff, Virginia State Police, West Virginia State Police and Forest Service Officers arrived at the sits in tandem and as independent entities. Some officers have appeared one day dressed as State Police, and the next as Forest Service toting body cams and bullet proof vests, begging the question if Forest Service is deputizing state police.
Tuesday, March 20th is the rehearing for the case MVP LLC brought against the sitters. Judge Irons of West Virginia first heard the case on March 13th, and granted a Temporary Restraining Order against two named individuals and the still unidentified tree sitters “John Doe 1-5.” Irons further granted MVP a Preliminary Injunction pending the company’s submission of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s notice to proceed for West Virginia. At the initial hearing, the company showed up in court with paperwork for the wrong state. Irons also ruled MVP LLC must pay a ten-thousand dollar bond to West Virginia State Police. The hearing tomorrow may determine that the sits are not within West Virginia State jurisdiction, but rather national forest land causing a refund of the bond to MVP and further action of the forest service alone.
Check out this drone footage of the tree sit! There's also footage here of trees being felled in the snowstorm on Monday right up to the base of the sit.Currently, the only thing physically standing in the way of pipeline construction is the treesit on Peters Mountain. People in trees are doing what our "representatives" and "regulators" refuse to do — they're protecting land, water, and communities of Appalachia from corporations that believe their money gives them the right to pillage this land and pollute our water.Please donate to support pipeline resistance in Appalachia: bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance
Posted by Appalachians Against Pipelines on Tuesday, March 13, 2018
We challenge that MVP LLC planned their bore hole site within the National Forest Service’s 300 foot “no cut zone,” on either side of the Appalachian Trail. The rehearing will evaluate the distance of the sits from the trail. If it is determined that the tree stand is within the protected zone, the sitters may have some degree of immunity from the company’s actions during a re-permitting process.
Facing off in the courtroom is clearly an institutional tactic within a fundamentally toxic system of law and business. We proceed with this step tomorrow as one of many tactics in the fight to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline and deepen resistance in this region. We have only strengthened in our commitment to direct action, and are inspired and grateful for everyone’s support and the solidarity from around the region. While we remain unsure of what state agents will be tasked with extraction, the Peters Mountain blockade is staying vigilant and steadfast in our determination to stop these and all pipelines. In this fight we continue to center stolen land and resistance of settler-colonialism in rural areas.
Support of all kinds is needed to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We always welcome AT hikers and friendly visitors.
For folx interested in joining us on the front lines, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those willing and able we welcome donations at: http://bit.ly/SupportMVPResistance
For more information, visit Appalachians Against Pipelines on Fedbook.
With love & rage.