MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Court orders and daily fines don’t seem to be enough to bring down the Yellow Finch Tree Sitters in Montgomery County.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) protestors were given until Nov. 16 to vacate the trees they’ve been sitting in for over 800 days.

Days later, a Montgomery County judge found them in contempt of court for staying and imposed a daily fine of $500.

One of the sitters, known on the Appalachians Against Pipelines Facebook page as “Acre,” says, “we’re still here.”

“You can sort of see the visual contrast between this sort of tree canopy and the stripped land over there,” Acre said, pointing on the other side of Yellow Finch Lane at the MVP’s pipeline project.

Acre says he’s greatly concerned with how the pipeline affects the land, specifically in Montgomery County.

“You can see the karst and the shale. It’s like flint, where it sort of shatters, and it crumbles like a pastry,” the tree-sitter said. “You can find all kinds of articles, saying how the pipe that they’ve already put in the ground is already sliding and moving. If any of that pipe that was already laid was filled with natural gas, it would be a disaster.”

An MVP spokesperson emphasizes that the safety of all those involved in the pipeline project, whether for it or against, is first and foremost and that the tree-sitters have created unnecessary safety risks for everyone.

As we have consistently stated, first and foremost is the safety of all those involved with the MVP project, whether they are supportive of or opposed to the project. The actions taken by a few opponents have created unnecessary safety risks for everyone involved, including law enforcement, security personnel, project workers, and opponents themselves. It was expected that the remaining opponents adhere to the law and vacate their positions along the right-of-way, as outlined in the order; furthermore, the Rule to Show Cause permits the Court to set fines or damages against remaining opponents for civil contempt. Law enforcement is coordinating the removal of those opponents who have not vacated.

Natalie Cox – Mountain Valley Pipeline Spokesperson

“That makes me chuckle a little bit,” Acre said. “I’m not gonna lie. I see people slide down this hill on their butt all the time. The lack of safety equipment can be pretty prominent at times.”

Acre also mentioned instances of excavators rolling over and down the hillside.

Recent events like the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have been proof, according to Acre, that protests and prolonging a project like MVP’s can be successful.

Community support on the ground has also given the tree-sitters hope that even if he is removed, the fight against MVP will continue.

“It’s definitely brewing another generation of resistance,” Acre said.

MVP’s completion date was recently pushed back to mid-to-late 2021.

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