Pipeline protesters interrupt State tree-planting ceremony

By Rob Manch - Reporter
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BEDFORD COUNTY - As the Governor's office partnered with the Smith Mountain Lake State Park to plant four chestnut trees Thursday, protesters interrupted the event to send a message.

Landowners from counties all over the state came to say the four trees planted Thursday pales in comparison to the thousands that will be cut down for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, both projects the Governor supports.

Though he was scheduled to attend the Governor did not come to the event.

His Secretary of Natural Resources says his stance is based on the economy.

"The Governor supports the pipeline as an economic development initiative. Our job in terms of stewards of the natural resources in the Commonwealth is to make sure that the pipeline follows the most sensitive route possible," said Natural Resources Secretary Molly Ward.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the group protesting the pipelines, says it just wants to have an open discussion with the Governor.

"Groups have written letters, and we haven't gotten much of a, as much as a turning of the head, I mean he didn't even show up today, and we're wondering is he scared of us? We're not here to hurt him, we're here to give a message of concern for our homes, our trees, our water here at the lake especially," said BREDL member Carolyn Reilly.

While in Southwest Virginia, the Governor is also scheduled to attend the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday.

Protesters say they intend to be there as well.

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