Judge agrees to issue injunction against tree sitters protesting pipeline

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UNION, W. Va. (WDBJ7) Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are continuing their tree-sitting protest on Peters Mountain. But how long they will stay is unclear, after a ruling in a West Virginia courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

The tree-sitters have been occupying the right-of-way since late last month, near the point where where the Mountain Valley Pipeline plans to tunnel beneath the Appalachian Trail.

And so far they have refused to leave.

Crews have been felling trees near the protestors. The group Appalachians Against Pipelines posted videos of the work on their Facebook page this week.

Pipeline opponents from West Virginia and Virginia crowded into the Monroe County courthouse Tuesday afternoon to support them.

During a lengthy hearing, MVP 's lawyer argued that the company has the property rights and the legal authority to move forward.

Project Manager Robert Cooper testified that the protest could delay the project and add millions of dollars to the cost.

But an attorney representing protestors questioned whether MVP had actually established that the tree sitters are in West Virginia, and whether they have received proper legal notice. He said the delay was of little consequence to a multi-billion dollar company.

"The young people in the trees are trying to shine a light on the fact that this process has been unfair," said Monroe County resident Nancy Bouldin.

"These two trees and the people sitting in 'em hold a big message for our communities and that is that they have a future in which they are invested," said Roanoke County resident Roberta Bondurant.

The judge said he would grant the injunction after the company submits additional documentation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

But how long the protestors are likely to remain on Peters Mountain, and how they would be removed is still up in the air.