Maury Johnson, Hero from the Holler

By Cynthia D. Ellis

There are many different ways of taking action to protect the West Virginia mountains.  We may know of the quiet work of those who labor at their computers and phones, and then too we know of the more readily visible volunteers who help with protests, marches, and actions of every kind.  Larry Gibson of Kayford Mountain was one of the latter.  Maury Johnson, who battles the Mountain Valley Pipeline of Virginia and West Virginia, is a bit of both.

Like Larry and others we admire, Maury acts out of a deep love of home.  And it would only take one visit to the mountains and valleys of Monroe County in southeastern West Virginia to see why. 

 I met Maury at a No Pipeline event in Summers County in 2017.  A broad-shouldered, gregarious guy, Maury was checking in with everyone attending.  He had words to offer up when speakers were called upon…and he even gave us a little glimpse of his clogging moves.

But make no mistake about his determined and serious nature.  Maury has testified or been part of hearings in the West Virginia Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court and more.  He is a member of the Executive Committee of POWHR [Protect Our Water Heritage Rights] and has worked closely with pipeline fighters across the nation, particularly those in the Midwest.

He writes letter after letter of public comment.  In a 2017 letter to WV Congressional members and the press, he decried proceedings of the WV DEP in this way:

As one of the participants in the Federal 401 Lawsuit against WV DEP that demanded that WV DEP do its job and protect WV Citizens and its Water Resources, I am more than appalled at the actions last week of WV DEP Chief Austin Caperton and WV DEP in reinstating the Stormwater Permit without adequate review for the MVP and by giving up their authority to protect our waters through the 401 water quality permit. This is far and beyond the MVP or ACP or any pipeline, this is about whether West Virginians deserve Clean Water. You either stand up for clean water or you do not.

Maury Johnson sometimes wears a t-shirt with the slogan, “Water Protector/Land Defender/Pipeline Fighter”.  He prefers the term, “Global Citizen.” At any rate you can get a view of Maury in action in the short video “Hero from the Holler”.  You can see it at either or (same video either place).

              We are inspired by, and grateful for allies such as this fellow from Monroe.