Christiansburg, Virginia

This morning, February 23, 2024, the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruled in favor of nonprofit organization Rising Tide North America, dismissing a SLAPP (SLAPP—Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation—meant to silence critics and dissent) lawsuit against them filed by oil pipeline corporation Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Today the court ruled, “Mountain Valley Pipeline has not sufficiently stated a proper cause of action …[they] simply allege that Rising Tide knows of unlawful conduct that Appalachians Against Pipelines (sic), and that Rising Tide is still providing funding for Appalachians Against Pipelines and individual defendants.  The Second Amended Complaint lacks any facts to support these conclusions.”

One of Rising Tide’s attorneys said: “Mountain Valley Pipeline, and many other extractive industry bullies, are clearly attempting to chill the constitutional rights of people who do not want harmful pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure on their property or the planet.  MVP and the fossil fuel industry are clearly attempting to target a perceived funding source for the political movement fighting back against catastrophic climate change and its perpetrators.  Money and fundraising are protected speech, and RTNA’s inclusion in this lawsuit was an overt attempt to silence MVP’s opponents. We are relieved that the Court agreed with our legal arguments and dismissed RTNA from this case.” Lauren Regan, Director of Civil Liberties Defense Center and one of the attorneys defending RTNA in this case.

Rising Tide North America issued the following: “Rising Tide North America is a grassroots organization made up of ordinary people fighting for a better and healthier world. We are glad that MVP’s attempts to curtail free speech and intimidate us, failed in this case.

When fossil fuel companies feel threatened, they try to attack our basic right to protest. That’s what MVP is doing — and unfortunately, dozens of individuals and additional organizations remain in their crosshairs. We continue to stand with all those facing MVP’s SLAPP suits and resist all attempts at intimidation.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline would harm local communities, disrupt ecosystems and drinking water and continue to fuel the climate crisis. Appalachians have made it clear where they stand — yet Mountain Valley Pipeline and politicians continue to push this disastrous project.  We will continue to support all local communities fighting back against fossil fuel extraction.”


The battle over the Mountain Valley Pipeline has recently passed the ten year mark, and opposition still grows stronger. The plans for the pipeline span 303 miles, threatening over a thousand bodies of water, swaths of forests, and the lives of those who live in its destructive path. The pipeline would emit over 89 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, pushing our country’s emissions higher in a time that they should be drastically lowered. The local residents impacted would be predominately Indigenous groups and Black communities, who already are burdened with greater amounts of environmental injustices.

After plans were announced in 2014, residents along the route were quick to rise up in protest. Community-led groups were formed that had volunteers monitor and report on the pipeline’s construction. Pressure from residents pushed some local governments to oppose the pipeline, and their protests and demonstrations brought further strength to the movement. One such demonstration was the Yellow Finch Lane tree-sit, which carried on for 932 days. Activists risked their liberty and health as they endured icy winters and rainy seasons, eventually marking one of the longest tree-sits in American history.

As grassroots resistance continued to impede the pipeline, it was riddled with legal hurdles. Property owners in Virginia sued MVP for crossing their property lines. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed the pipeline to seize property from people in its path using eminent domain and did so without requiring upfront payments to landowners. MVP also rushed its way through permit processing, often going forward without proper permits. In 2019, FERC ordered all work on the pipeline to be stopped due to over 300 Clean Water Act violations and ordered MVP the pay $2.15 million in fines. Work was allowed to resume a year later, but was brought to a halt again that same year when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled for an immediate stay of MVP’s stream and wetland crossing permits.

On June 3, 2023, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 was signed by President Biden. The act ratified all issued permits and mandated that MVP would be issued another permit that was necessary to complete the pipeline. The news of this was devastating, as the government was disregarding the importance of environmental permitting and regulation. Wilderness Society and the Southern Environmental Law Center brought forth arguments that the act violated separation of powers principles and was unconstitutional. Even though the act had changed the jurisdiction for cases against MVP, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals again granted a temporary stay of the construction of the pipeline on July 10, 2023.

The issue was then brought to the U.S. Supreme Court, which cleared the way for the pipeline to move forward. The brief order issued by the Court lifted the stay, but the case will continue to progress in lower courts. The fight carries on, both in courtrooms and with grassroots organizations standing firm against the construction of the pipeline. Now, Mountain Valley Pipeline is suing over 40 people and multiple organizations in a SLAPP suit that is attempting to intimidate and silence activists.