Federal judge in Roanoke to weigh in on Mountain Valley Pipeline protesters

Judge to decide whether or not to order protesters down from tree sits

ROANOKE, Va. – A federal judge in Roanoke will decide whether or not to order protesters down from their tree sits along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route.

For about 100 days, two people have been camping at the top of trees in the Elliston area.

Despite spending Christmas alone, high in the sky, Phillip Flagg is in good spirits.

"I'd say I'm doing pretty well, reading a lot of books up here, watching a lot of Bob Ross videos and it's an easy life," Flagg said.

Flagg is one of two tree-sitters blocking construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. In the 100 or so days they've been there, work has continued on either side of them in the Elliston area.

But MVP appears to have had enough. On Friday, their lawyers filed a motion to grant an injunction against the tree-sitters forcing them to come down, writing, "The tree-sitters are preventing MVP from clearing trees and from using and enjoying the easements on the property. The express purpose of the tree-sitters is to impede construction."

A federal judge will decide in a week what to do. This comes days after Mountain Valley Pipeline was met with judicial resistance after requesting the two tree-sitters be added to an eminent domain lawsuit.

Flagg has constant support and has even been visited by Emily Satterwhite, who spent the day chained to an excavator earlier this summer.

He said he's not backing down.

"Because we think it's the right thing to do," Flagg said. "The law is clearly not a good indicator of right and wrong, so something could happen in the courts, but regardless of what happens, we will continue to fight the pipeline."

Flagg declined to say what he'd do if faced with a court order to come down, but did add he'll only voluntarily come down if the project is brought to a stop.