Pipeline opponents launch new protest in Montgomery County

Published: Sep. 5, 2018 at 8:22 PM EDT
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Two opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are now blocking the path of the project in Montgomery County.

Lauren Bowman and another protester who calls herself Nettle are occupying wooden platforms, suspended from trees along the pipeline right-of-way near Elliston.

They say protecting the environment, including the region's water supply, is their ultimate goal.

"I want to get people's attention for one," Bowman told WDBJ7. And get state agencies' attention that we're not going anywhere."

The two climbed onto their platforms early Wednesday. And Bowman shared a message when reporters visited later in the day.

"Educate yourself about what's going on," she said, "because you might be in a position right now where you can ignore these issues, but sooner or later we're all going to deal with them."

Tina Badger is a Montgomery County resident who visited the site of the protest to support the two tree sitters.

"And it does not seem that the powers that be are listening to us," Badger said. "So our only option is to put our bodies on the line and stop the pipeline."

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said unlawful blockades are creating unnecessary safety risks. The company said that while it respects the opinions of opponents, protesters are spending taxpayers' money by forcing public agencies to incur significant expenses.

Here is the complete MVP statement released Wednesday afternoon:

"These unlawful blockades along the MVP route are creating unnecessary safety risks for everyone involved, including law enforcement, security personnel, project workers, and opponents themselves. While we continue to respect the opinions of those opposed to important infrastructure projects, the actions of these opponents are spending taxpayers’ money by forcing public agencies to incur significant expenses in order to maintain safety and uphold the law.

The MVP project includes two taps for local use in Virginia, including one that is near today's unlawful activities by opponents. We remain committed to the safe construction of this project in order to meet the region’s demand for affordable, clean-burning, domestic natural gas."

The two protesters say they are well-supplied, and plan to stay put as long as possible. No MVP crews or law enforcement officers were present on the protest site Wednesday morning.