(CN) – A Virginia State Senator sued the National Forest Service Wednesday claiming officials are unlawfully blocking access to blocking access to a road where a group of protesters are demonstrating against a gas pipeline project.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Roanoke, Virginia State Senator J. Chap Petersen, a Democrat, claims the Forest Service is preventing plaintiffs Doug Chancey, Marian Mollin and Rebecca Schneider from using an access road into a national forest to bring food and other supplies to a tree-sitting protester.
That protester, identified only as “Nutty” in court documents, is one of a number of tree sitters attempting to block the clearing a 125-foot wide swath of trees in a national forest to make way for the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The Forest Service issued its order closing the road on April 7, citing safety concerns.
But the protesters claim the order is nothing more than a bald-faced attempt to stifle their opposition to the project. They are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
In a separate lawsuit in the federal court in Roanoke, EQT Midstream and other partners in the pipeline project are asking a federal judge to hold several property owners in contempt for blocking the company’s access to their land.