MVP Pipeline Protesters Use New Tactics of Blocking Road and Pole Sitting

by Duane Nichols on March 29, 2018

Water is Life! We Won’t Back Down!

Authorities break up Mountain Valley Pipeline protest on mountain road

From an Article by Brad McElhinny, WV MetroNews, March 28, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Authorities broke up a group of protesters who were blocking an access road that was being used for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. A protest that had been going on for about a month in the Jefferson National Forest on the border of West Virginia and Virginia escalated this morning when pipeline opponents blocked the access road.

The protesters put up a large pole overnight across the access road to the project in the Jefferson National Forest on the West Virginia/Virginia border. In addition to that, about 30 protesters gathered at the access road gate along Pocahontas Road on Peters Mountain.

The U.S. Forest service called the actions illegal and dangerous.

About 4:30 p.m., the group Appalachians Against Pipelines wrote on social media that authorities had broken up the protest and arrested some of the organizers. The authorities were trying to get one of the protesters off the pole, the group wrote.

UPDATE Cops arrived at monopod blockade on forest service road in large numbers, arrested direct support and dispersed support rally. Currently SHAKING THE MONOPOD TREE and endangering the sitter. #StoptheMVP. — Appalachians Against Pipelines, Mar 28, 2018

The protester on the pole produced live video of the scene below. A little after 6 p.m. the protesters said the police had gone away, leaving the protester on the pole.

The U.S. Forest Service, which has authority there, released a statement saying the location of the protest isn’t safe in the first place. “For the protesters in the areas under the closure order, the protest site is located within an area under emergency closure for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Project and is not a safe or legal location for a protest to occur,” stated Jessica Rubado, spokeswoman for the Forest Service.

The Forest Service on March 11 issued an order closing the access road and a 400 foot corridor along the pipeline’s 3.5 mile route through the national forest.

The protesters were aware the Forest Service would object.“Yes, I imagine they would object to the road being blocked,” said a protester who spoke with MetroNews this morning.

That protester, contacted by telephone, said the gathering was meant to discourage authorities from taking action on pipeline opponents who have been in platforms in trees along the intended pipeline route for more than a month.

“What this blockade is doing is it’s not only preventing Mountain Valley Pipeline from accessing their worksite but also preventing National Forest Service or State Police of the potential for any extraction of the tree sitters,” said the protester who did not reveal his name.

The protesters said their presence will also halt the daily construction of a 7-mile road leading to the site of the company’s planned boring through Peters Mountain.

Appalachians Against Pipelines put out a release about the latest protest tactics this morning. The protester who spoke with MetroNews answered the phone number that was included in the release.

A group of protesters has been in trees along the pipeline’s intended path since February 26, more than a month now. Today’s actions ramped up that protest.

Mountain Valley Pipeline is up against a deadline to fell trees along the 303-mile project. March 31 is the end of a window meant to lessen the impact on migratory bird and bat habitats.

The pipeline developers have said if they fall behind, they won’t be able to clear the trees until the same time next year. That would put the project behind and endanger the contracts already in place to supply natural gas, the developers have said.

Lawyers for Mountain Valley Pipeline tried to get an injunction in Monroe Circuit Court, but Judge Robert Irons ruled against the motion last week. The judge said MVP hadn’t been able to prove the protesters were inside Mountain Valley’s right of way.

The Forest Service included a statement today that the agency is committed to an expeditious but cautious resolution. The federal agency said, though, that remoteness of the area where the protest is located and weather conditions are complicating factors.

Forest Service law enforcement officers are closely coordinating with both West Virginia and Virginia state police and Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC security for assistance and technical expertise, the agency stated.

This morning’s protest is actually on the Virginia side of the mountain. The protester said representatives of the forest service have been in the area near the tree protesters every day but had not yet taken any action to remove them.

Social media posts from the protesters have indicated for days that they believe some action by the forest service may be imminent.

The forest service, almost a week ago, designated a spot for protesters to gather at Caldwell Fields in Montgomery County, Virginia — still in the national forest but miles from the tree-sit protest.

This morning, the protester who spoke on the telephone said crowds will gather where they believe is right. “The idea is that folks should be able to support the Peters Mountain stand from wherever they please,” he said.”The forest is public. So to tell us we can’t gather here, we aren’t going to follow that rule.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Combs March 29, 2018 at 9:33 am

Tree-sit protest that spilled over into Virginia broken up by authorities

By Matt Combs, Raleigh County Register-Herald Reporter, Beckley, WV, March 29, 2018

A second protest site that had sprung up on the Virginia side of Peters Mountain was broken up Wednesday afternoon, leaving only a single protestor high up a wooden pole in the middle of a Jefferson National Forest access road.

According to the Appalachian Against Pipelines Facebook page, a large contingent of law enforcement, including Virginia State Police, U.S Forest Service officials and U.S Marshals, arrived at the protest location at approximately 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and arrested protest ground support members, as well as making the general protest supporters gathered at the location disperse.

Earlier in the day, protestors had installed a blockade across the access road.

The news release said that the blockade would prevent state and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) workers from accessing the location of protesting tree-sitters in West Virginia and prevent the construction of a seven-mile-long road to the site of a proposed borehole near the summit of the mountain.

The blockade included a 50-foot-tall log installed in the middle of the access road with a single protester near its top.

“As I remember the local support the tree sits have received, and all the people already standing up against the destruction of their land and water along the MVP and ACP routes, I know we can be a strong force for a world without these pipelines,” the log-top protestor stated in a news release. “The flames of resistance are catching and they will spread.”

Along with the log-sitter, a group of supporters also gathered at the protest site.

“Ordinary citizens, who for decades have sounded the alarm on threats to water, health, and individual rights from resource extraction, might finally be heard as a result of [these actions],” said Russell Chisholm of Newport, Va., in the release. “By showing up to bear witness to the power of direct action non-violence in the face of chainsaws, the people might bring an end to fossil fuel sacrifice zones in Appalachia and around the globe.”

The new protest follows a denial of an injunction against the tree-sitters last week by Monroe and Summers County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons.

With a March 31 deadline for MVP to cut trees inside the forest looming, protest supporters fear that a last-minute attempt to remove the tree-sitters is possible.

The tree-sitters on the West Virginia slope of Peters Mountain remain in place.


Mark Hefflinger March 29, 2018 at 10:57 pm


Carolyn Elefant (attorney),,
Russell Chisholm, POWHR Coalition,,
Roberta Bondurant, Preserve Bent Mountain/Roanoke,,
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance,

Groups Say FERC Notices for Mountain Valley Pipeline are Invalid
“Notices to Proceed” were issued by low-level FERC staffer, in clear violation of agency’s regulations

Bent Mountain, VA — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) “Notices to Proceed” issued for the proposed Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines are invalid, as they were signed by a low-level FERC staffer, in violation of the agency’s own regulations.

The FERC Certificate authorizing the Mountain Valley Project allows either the Director of the Office of Energy Projects (OEP) or his designee to approve a pipeline’s request for a notice to proceed with construction. Under FERC’s regulations, the designee chosen by the Director must be a “comparable official,” such as a Deputy Director, or head of a FERC Regional Division. Paul Friedman, the FERC employee who signed off on more than a dozen notices to proceed, does not satisfy the definition of a comparable official as he is neither a Deputy nor branch chief.

Last month, the Bold Alliance filed a challenge to numerous notices to proceed approved by Friedman, arguing that the notices were invalid because they had not been signed by the Director. In response, FERC this week issued “tolling orders” which allow FERC to delay resolution of the Bold Alliance’s challenge to the notice to proceed, while allowing MVP to begin construction on its fracked gas pipelines that threatens land and water, and landowners’ private property.

“FERC’s regulations on delegation exist for a reason,” said Carolyn Elefant, the Washington D.C.-based attorney who represents the Bold Alliance. “FERC’s authority over natural gas pipelines comes directly from Congress, so when FERC delegates its authority to agency officials, it is entrusting them to carry out powers granted by Congress. For that reason, FERC’s regulations restrict delegation of authority to upper level officials who act in a supervisory capacity and can be relied upon to make decisions on FERC’s behalf.”

Elefant continued, “There are also practical reasons for requiring an official with supervisory capacity to act on notices to proceed. Once construction starts, landowners’ private property, trees, sensitive habitat and other environmental resources will be irreparably destroyed. Therefore, any decision allowing the company to start construction requires the additional levels of review and oversight that come when a Director or other supervisor signs off on a decision.”

Roberta Motherway Bondurant, of Preserve Bent Mountain/Roanoke stated, “Does FERC understand its responsibility in failing to perform a thorough, capable and professional assessment of a knowingly high-risk and environmentally destructive megapipeline, before signing Notices to Proceed? Construction, engineering and design, erosion and sedimentation mistakes and miscalculations permeate the appellate record–that MVP has allowed a project manager, and not authorities designated by regulation — to sign off on Notices to Proceed, now exponentially heightens the risk to the public.” Bondurant continued, ”It’s time for leaders in the courts, the legislature, in industry and the environment — as well as the public — to sound the alarm, to courageously stand up, speak out, and stop MVP.”


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