Mountain Valley Pipeline asks judge to hold tree-sitters in contempt of court

Published: May. 1, 2018 at 8:33 PM EDT
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Matt Fleenor hit the sidewalk outside the Poff Federal Building Tuesday afternoon, to show his support for the Terry family and his opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

"I don't think the people of the valley understand how close the pipeline is," he said, "and the danger it might present to our natural resources."

Inside the building, the first-floor courtroom was packed, but Red and Minor Terry weren't there. The mother and daughter have been in their tree stands since early April, and continue their pipeline protest on their family's property.

A lawyer representing the Mountain Valley Pipeline said there was no excuse for their actions, which continue to block construction activities.

Wade Massie said the judge's order gives MVP full access to the easements, and prohibits the Terrys from delaying, obstructing or interfering with access. He urged the judge to find Red and Minor Terry, and Red's husband Coles Terry in contempt of court.

The Terrys' attorney, Tom Bondurant, said the judge's order was based on misleading information.

"MVP misled the court or mislead FERC or mislead both. That's the bottom line," Bondurant said after the hearing. "They obtained that order either through a mistake or through intentional false testimony to begin with."

Attorneys representing MVP said the company stands by testimony delivered during a January hearing, but they declined to comment further as they left the courthouse.

Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for the company released the following statement:

"It is unfortunate that MVP had to take this additional legal action to enforce existing federal injunction orders that allow MVP to proceed with the approved project and prevent interference of the project's construction activities. We respect the court’s process and consideration in this matter."

Judge Elizabeth Dillon said she will review the evidence, her order granting MVP access to the Terrys' property and transcripts from earlier hearings.

She said she will make a decision as soon as possible.