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Grassroots groups mourn tree fall, commit to continuing fight against pipeline

Protestors put up "No Pipeline" signs near an area where trees were cut for pre-construction. (Photo: Whitney Burney)

NELSON CO., Va. (WSET)--- Three grassroots group held a demonstration on Saturday March 17th to recommit themselves to the fight against the Atlantic Coast pipeline.

"Feeling thud after thud after thud of these giant trees falling while you're hearing chainsaws. It was emotional," said Joyce Burton as she looked over hundreds of cut trees.

"The first day I came, I cried. Now I'm angry and recommitted to continuing the fight," said Sharon Ponton of Friends of Nelson county.

Both Burton and Ponton live in Nelson county. They are apart of opposition groups that are actively fighting the atlantic coast pipeline slated to drilling through 600 miles of land including parts of the county.

The demonstration comes after the company building the pipeline, Dominion Energy, was issued 15 violations by DEQ for cutting trees in areas they were not permitted to.

"We need to make sure that things like these get noticed and that we don't let DEQ or anybody else turn the other way," said Burton. She said that violations like these will be what helps the grassroots groups slow down and eventually stop the pipeline's construction.

"The total impact at all of the sites was less than one acre. No trees were cut in wetlands or streams, and no wetlands or streams were impacted," said Dominion Energy spokesperson Aaron Ruby.

Dominion energy says after their crews identified the violations themselves and reported them to authorities. Dominion says they halted all work on the project for three days and had their crews re-trained to fully understand their permitting requirements.

Protestors say they plan to keep a close eye on dominion energy and hope those standards are met in the future.

"We are stronger when we are together, We need to keep fighting this together," said Joyce Burton.

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