Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mother and daughter take to treehouses to fight pipeline

A Virginia mother and daughter have been trying to block a natural-gas pipeline on their family's land for nearly a month by staying in neighboring treehouses in the path of the pipeline, Gregory Schneider reports for The Washington Post. The Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 300-mile, $3.5 billion project to transport gas through West Virginia and Virginia, has been a target for protesters since before it was approved, with one Giles County resident writing his opposition into his obituary.

The protest waged by Theresa "Red" Terry, 61, and her 30-year-old daughter, Theresa Minor Terry, has drawn national attention. The platforms are on a 1,500-acre tract southwest of Roanoke which they say the British king grants to the elder Theresa's husband's family. The Terrys have fought the pipeline since learning about it four years ago, attending hearings and rallies and supporting anti-pipeline candidates in local elections. Though they had been glad to allow power lines to cross their property because they help locals, they don't think the pipeline meets that standard, Schneider reports.

The pipeline builders, EQT Corp. and NextEra Energy Inc., claimed the land by eminent domain and offered to compensate the Terrys, but the family turned down the money. When a federal judge ruled against them last month, Red's husband and other activists began building the treehouses in the middle of the pipeline's planned route where workers were about to start clearing trees, copying the actions of other treesitters blocking the pipeline's advance in West Virginia.

Emergency medical technicians check on the women every afternoon and local restaurants donate food. Last week police charged the women with trespassing, obstruction of justice and interfering with property rights, and are waiting around the clock to arrest them when they come down. In mid-April they decreed that family and friends could no longer bring them food and water, and locals protested that the police were treating the women inhumanely. But when the women recently said they needed food a few days ago, Roanoke County police sent up pizza and bologna sandwiches, Laurence Hammack reports for The Roanoke Times.

Both women say they intend to stay up as long as they can. Red told Schneider it would probably end "poorly for me and many of my neighbors," but said the community remains undaunted. The pipeline builders "might've broken their hearts but they sure as hell didn't break their spirits . . . I'm hoping maybe we can change a few things."

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