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Yard signs of this image against fracking and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in NC are now available! Please call ahead to arrange a pickup from Clean Water for NC's Durham (919-401-9600) or Asheville (828-251-1291) office.

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“Frack-Free NC” is a network of grassroots organizations who believe that shale gas development using “fracking” and horizontal drilling cannot be done without bringing harm to our waters, land, air, communities and public health. We are working to keep North Carolina frack free. Learn more...

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New Report on Atlantic Coast Pipeline Blast Zones

Aug 15, Raleigh—Groups working closely with residents along the route for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) will speak about the dangers they will face if construction of the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline is allowed to go forward, as a new report from Clean Water for North Carolina is released. Speakers showed enlarged images of “High Consequence Areas” along the proposed route in their counties, and the extent of “blast zones” around them. Hundreds of landowners in the construction corridor, and at least 943 feet from the center of the pipeline, would be at risk of severe damage and injury or death in case of a pipeline leak, explosion or fire.

Hope Taylor of Clean Water for North Carolina presented the context for the report “High Consequence Areas, Blast Zones and Public Safety Along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” including images for a site in Northampton County, and implications for residents all along the pipeline. She and Ericka Faircloth will also talk about High Consequence Areas in Nash, Cumberland and Robeson Counties. Read the full report here.

High Consequence Area in Nash County

Image of blast and evacuation zones around a High Consequence Area in Nashville, Nash County, near where Governor Cooper grew up.

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has sent a formal letter to the North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association regarding the challenges faced by First Responders in the mostly rural counties targeted by the ACP. Significant incidents, including explosions and fires are happening with increasing frequency on pipelines across the US, according to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Therese Vick presented the key concerns in the letter, which is available to read here.

Background Information on FERC’s Granting Dozens of Permits for Unneeded Pipelines!  Request DWR DENY the 401 Permit for the ACP!

In the past 30 years, FERC has granted “certificates” to all but two U.S. pipeline projects, with no credible assessment of actual need for the projects! The Commission can’t be relied upon to protect the health and environment of North Carolina. The Div. of Water Resources’ permit review must conscientiously require measures to protect the waters and existing uses of water resources.

Believing it will be impossible to construct the ACP without adverse impacts to streams, rivers, wetlands, groundwater, aquatic life, human health and Environmental Justice, we encourage you to conclude your comments by asking the Div. of Water Resources to deny the 401 permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Thanks for your concern and your action!

Residents Pack 401 Certification Hearings in Opposition ​to ACP

The 401 Certification Hearings for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline last week in Fayetteville and Rocky Mount drew big crowds, with about 80% of commenters speaking​ against the proposed project! The state’s 401 Certification plays a critical role in the pipeline permitting process–if it is denied, it has the potential to stop the proposed pipeline altogether.

The proposed route of the pipeline, if built, would plow through thriving farmland, private property and important bodies of water. The Buckhorn Reservoir is the primary source of drinking water for the city of Wilson and much of Wilson County. Any contaminants that get into the Reservoir or nearby Contentnea Creek from the building or operating of the pipeline would threaten the water source for the cities and towns downstream . “My family’s farm is in the direct path of this proposed pipeline. I’m opposed to this project for three reasons,” Barbara Exum of Wilson County said. “No. 1, it threatens our vital water resource. No. 2, it disproportionately affects people of color, and No. 3, this gas is simply not needed.”

The Cape Fear River has been a popular topic recently due to the GenX contamination occurring just south of Fayetteville. Just upstream of the contamination is where the pipeline is proposed to cross the River. Many families use the River as a source of sustenance fishing, recreation, and cultural purposes. If approved, the pipeline would be installed just under the river bed using horizontal drilling. Drilling fluids have the potential to contaminate the River and impact aquatic life.

The final decision on the 401 Certification is expected around mid-September. Heather Deck, the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper says the Division of Water Resources doesn’t have sufficient information to sa​id​ that water quality standards will not be violated.  “If they make a decision now, they have to deny it.”

There’s still time to send in your comments on the 401! The deadline is 5:00 pm on August 19th. Here are some talking points to give you some ideas for your own comments!

Email your comments to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov (include “ACP” in subject line).

Or, mail your comments to
401 Permitting
1617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC
27699

ACP Water/Wetlands Hearings July 18, 20

The Upcoming “401” Permit Hearings–A Critical Opportunity to Protect NC Waters and Wetlands
(Possibly Even to Stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline)
Comment period goes through August 19th

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Public Hearings on Water Impacts

  • July 18th, Fayetteville, 6:00 pm, Fayetteville Tech Community College, 2201 Hull Road. Cumberland Auditorium. Signup begins at 5:00 pm.
  • July 20th, Rocky Mount, 6:00 pm, Nash Community College, 522 N. Old Carriage Road. Brown Auditorium. Signup begins at 5:00 pm.

Of all of the state permits that a gas pipeline must receive before a final “certification” can be granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, none is more critical than the “401 Water Quality Certification.” This permit would certify that the NC Division of Water Resources believes that the permit, as written, will protect NC’s waters and wetlands, and the aquatic and human life that depend on them! After extensive review of large permit files, a collaborative team from several organizations has found major flaws in the draft permit.

Please speak out at one of the hearings above, or submit written comments by August 19, to prevent a permit that would let ACP degrade our resources and put Environmental Justice at risk! You do not have to live in the counties along the pipeline route to participate in this process.

Here are some talking points to give you some ideas for your own comments. Written comments may be sent to: 401 Permitting, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC, 27699-1617, or emailed to PublicComments@ncdenr.gov (include “ACP” in the email’s subject line).

ACP: How Does a Costly, Risky, Unneeded Gas Pipeline Get So Much Support from Public Officials?

The answer:  Generous political donations to a wide swath of elected officials from both parties, and a suite of political lobbyists with extensive connections to power and pipeline investors!

In their recently released report, “The Power Behind the Pipelines: Atlantic Coast Pipeline”, the Public Accountability Initiative continues their series of critical analyses of the economic and political forces that push pipelines to get built, even without strong public support .

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is proposed by affiliates of the two most powerful corporations in Virginia (Dominion) and North Carolina (Duke Energy), both of which want to carry Marcellus shale gas from West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania to a number of new gas fired power plants they plan to build. The “rush to build” pipelines that has led to a five-fold increase in incidents in pipelines built since 2010. This is undoubtedly due to hasty construction as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission  (FERC) allows profit margins of 14 or 15% for pipeline builders, much higher than electric utilities can get by generating power alone!

Add to that picture the fact that the energy utilities would be buying the gas from their own pipeline affiliates, which are building the pipelines and shipping the gas.  Then there’s the “revolving door” between regulatory agencies and the pipeline builders. With rampant “self-dealing” and regulatory oversight gone amuck—that’s where we are today with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and others waiting for FERC approval.

Among the NC politicians who have taken major gifts from Duke Energy or Dominion are House Speaker Rep. Timothy K. Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Rep. Phil Berger, both Republicans, also the Governors of both VA (McAuliffe) and NC (Cooper), both Democrats. A leading progressive Congressman, GK Butterfield, who represents four of the eight NC counties that would be impacted by the pipeline, has been lobbied by his former legislative aid, now working for the ACP, since 2014.

This pipeline will have massive impacts on water, air, land and communities, and they will disproportionately fall on people of color and low income in these mostly rural eastern NC counties.  The ACP has bought off local governments by promising big tax revenues, but those revenues will only arrive if the pipeline is in full operation, which seems unlikely– gas production and demand are likely to be SLOWING and the renewables industry is gaining ground over conventional fuels. The pipeline itself only offers 18 permanent jobs, a few hundred temporary construction jobs and essentially NO realistic economic development for the rural counties impacted—it would cost $$millions to tap into the ACP. Only Fayetteville and Rocky Mount may have enough capital to get any gas from the pipeline.

Time for everyone who cares about the people and land and water of eastern NC to step up!  Speak out to your local government, send letters to the editor, come to hearings on a massive water permit expected in late July, and support dozens of groups working across NC to oppose the ACP!  Stay tuned for talking points and announcements of opportunities to get involved!

New Impetus For Action to Protect Communities from Fracking

On April 17, Mark Martinez and his brother-in-law Joey Irwin went down to the basement to replace a water heater in Martinez’s home in Firestone, Colorado, a fast-growing bedroom community 25 miles north of Denver. Moments later, a fiery explosion destroyed the house and shook the neighborhood. Both men were killed. Erin Martinez, Mark’s wife, and their son survived.

Now, following a two-week investigation, the local fire department has linked the blast to a recently restarted gas well, drilled in 1993 and located just 178 feet behind the house and operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. A department statement said gas entered the house from a cut, abandoned flowline still connected to the well.

After the announcement, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered statewide inspections and integrity tests of all oil and gas flowlines within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings within 60 days. At a press conference, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore said, “We want a hard look at all of this going forward.”

The fatal explosion has reignited the fierce debate over the pace and proximity of oil and gas development along Colorado’s Front Range, where booming energy fields have collided with a rapidly growing urban corridor. For years, environmentalists and community activists have furiously pushed to limit drilling near suburban Front Range communities, while the state government and industry leaders have resisted tougher restrictions.

“I’ve been warning the state this was going to happen for years now,” says Shane Davis, a Boulder-based environmentalist who monitors state oil and gas data. Davis, nicknamed “the Fractivist,” gave a 2012 presentation to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission arguing that state rules that determine safe distances between development and communities were inadequate to protect people from chemical fumes, wastewater spills or gas leaks. A year later, the commission decided to only modestly increase those setbacks. That and its lax monitoring of wells and pipelines are proof to Davis and others that regulators have downplayed risks—now with deadly results.

Nearly half of Colorado’s 54,000 active oil and gas wells are in Weld County, which includes Firestone and is one of the nation’s fastest growing counties. Wells number in the hundreds in neighboring Boulder and Adams counties, but drilling has expanded there in recent years as fracking technology and newer horizontal drilling techniques have made it possible to tap new reserves.

The rise in drill rigs, truck traffic, and well pads in suburban communities — some operations just a few hundred feet from houses, schools, churches and playgrounds — sparked a backlash. Since 2012, several towns and counties have passed short-term moratoriums suspending drilling or fracking. Two cities attempted to ban fracking altogether, but industry lawsuits successfully struck down both bans for overstepping local authority. In 2014 and 2016, citizens’ groups even tried to force a statewide ballot initiative to outlaw fracking across the state.

In response, the Oil and Gas Commission reevaluated its rule that new wells in urban areas must be at least 350 feet from homes. Davis suggested a 2,500-foot setback. “I think increased threats of danger warranted increased safety precautions,” he explains. But the state’s revised rules in 2013 only marginally expanded urban setbacks to 500 feet from homes, and 1,000 feet from hospitals and schools.

And those setbacks don’t apply when new houses encroach on existing oil and gas wells, creating a regulatory gap. Such “reverse setback” rules are instead determined by local governments and are generally less restrictive.

So while oil and gas companies must comply with the 500 and 1,000-foot setbacks, developers in Weld County can build homes just 150 feet from existing wells. That’s how the Martinez home, built 18 months ago, ended up so close to the Anadarko well.

“The industry’s in a bind right now,” Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer told me in 2013. “If I was the industry, I would probably get to the point where I would be exasperated with the fact that I have to be back 500 feet but (real-estate developers) don’t.”

Kirkmeyer and her fellow commissioners opposed even the minor 2013 setback changes, saying there was no evidence that greater distances would do more to protect public health and safety. This spring, Kirkmeyer also testified against state legislation that would have further extended setbacks from schools, helping to defeat the bill.

Industry proponents point out that Colorado already has some of the country’s toughest restrictions on oil and gas development. Stricter setbacks—like Davis’ 2,500-foot proposal—are unwarranted, they have argued, and could effectively shut down drilling, costing Colorado hundreds of millions in lost tax dollars.

Now, those arguments and other state regulations are being called into question.

For instance, many flowlines, like the one linked to the explosion, are exempt from inspections and integrity tests if they operate at lower pressures. But those lines, which connect wells to production facilities, are sometimes just an inch in diameter and often made of plastic; they can crack due to weather or human disturbance. In Firestone, the deadly flowline was accidentally cut when an oil tank battery was relocated before the new subdivision was built.

Exempting such lines from inspections allows tens of thousands of miles of underground lines to go unmonitored, says Davis. “The reason for the flowline pressure-testing exemptions is it’s just too difficult, time-consuming and costly to the state and industry,” he adds. The oil and gas commission’s roughly 20 field inspectors could hardly tackle the job.

It’s also unclear if the commission is completing other required inspections. State rules mandate that any well that is turned off for two years must undergo what’s known as a “mechanical integrity test” since built-up pressure can cause leaks in protective well casings. But after reviewing state data, Davis says those tests were never done on at least one of Anadarko’s idle wells near Firestone even after the two-year deadline. (According to the Denver Post, the specific well implicated in the home explosion, however, had only been idle since 2016.)

Spotty oversight is especially troublesome when dealing with older wells and infrastructure, says Wes Wilson, a one-time Environmental Protection Agency scientist turned whistleblower who now serves as the science advisor for the Colorado-based progressive group Be The Change. Despite many activists’ focus on newer, fracked wells, nearly 90 percent of Colorado’s active wells were drilled years ago, and there are another 36,000 abandoned or inactive wells that are scarcely monitored. According to research by Cornell University’s Anthony Ingraffea, roughly 60 percent of well casings fail after 25 years. (Industry disputes this figure.) Yet past state reviews to update policy, such as a 2014 task force, have failed to address either the consistency of inspections, or reverse setbacks. “The big story is we don’t trust the oil and gas commission,” says Wilson.

Prior to the announcement of the findings from Firestone, Adams County commissioners had already asked all companies to halt production at wells within 250 feet of occupied buildings. Boulder County commissioners, who are considering how and if to extend a 5-year oil and gas moratorium that expired this month, are pushing for inspections of all of its 300 older wells. Now, governments may step up their demands and reconsider tougher local rules. The Colorado Sierra Club is calling for a halt to new oil and gas drilling, while Davis has started a petition to shut down all active wells in residential areas across the state.

In a statement, Dan Haley, CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, said the association “supports the state’s call to inspect flowlines and ensure the safety of all Coloradans.” He also referred to the cut flowline as “an unusual set of events.”

Anadarko also pledged to cooperate with the oil and gas commission and investigators. Even before authorities linked its well to the explosion, the company turned off all 3,000-plus of its older wells across northeast Colorado. “We hope that doing so also provided some additional reassurance to the community in the wake of this tragic accident,” Al Walker, Anadarko CEO and president, said in a statement.

“The reason Anadarko shut down their wells is out of an abundance of fear,” Davis says. “We should never wait for an accident to happen and then try to fix it. That’s reckless.”

*Article published by High Country News by Joshua Zaffos

FrackFreeNC Sends Governor, DEQ Secretary Letter on Major ACP Concerns!

Last Friday, FrackFreeNC Allies sent a letter summarizing our many concerns about the serious economic, social justice, safety and environmental problems of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Below is a summary of the letter. Click to read the full letter.

To join the movement to stop the ACP contact info@frackfreenc.org 

Dear Governor Roy Cooper and DEQ Secretary Michael Regan:

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is Unneeded, Costly, Dangerous and Unjust for NC

1. The ACP is not needed for residential and economic development needs and increases our climate vulnerability.
2. The ACP will actually increase costs for NC electric ratepayers, by paying for construction and rising fuel costs.
3. Pipelines will be even LESS needed in the long term because renewables (wind and solar), are the largest new source of energy generation.
4. The ACP’s claim of many new jobs to be created by the ACP is a gross exaggeration. Construction jobs would only be several hundred in NC, lasting for a few months.  Only 18 permanent jobs would be created in NC!
5. Low income and people of color communities and landowners would be disproportionately impacted.
6. The pipeline would bring with it the risk of leakage, fire and explosions, additional expenses to local governments, and impacts to groundwater and private wells.
7. Critical natural resources, unique to North Carolina, would be substantially impacted, including major rivers, hundreds of tributaries, unique wetlands, groundwater, as well as air quality and landscapes.

Thanks for your Comments to FERC! NC Legislative leadership supports ACP

Thanks to all of you who submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the deeply flawed Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  You have helped us find many, many reasons why this pipeline should never be built!!

Unfortunately, despite efforts by several NC advocacy groups and the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance to wake up the NC, VA and WV legislative leadership, all signed onto Dominion’s letter supporting the ACP.

NC legislators signing the letter,  included:
Rep. Timothy Moore, Speaker of the House; Sen. Phil Berger, Senate President Pro Tempore; Sen. Daniel Blue, Jr., Senate Minority Leader; and Rep. John Bell, IV, House Majority Leader.  Rep. Ken Goodman, who represents Robeson County along the ACP corridor has investments of over $10,000 in ACP co-owner Duke Energy.

ONE MORE DAY TO COMMENT ON ACP!

ONLY ONE MORE DAY to send ACP DEIS Comments to FERC!

Please note corrected Docket Number,  CP15-554-000

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s impacts on eastern NC and global climate impacts, will be substantial, but FERC officials are claiming there will be “no significant impacts.” YOUR comments are important to let them know the public sees the truth.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which grants the final certification for gas pipelines, needs to have YOUR comments by the deadline April 6th on the deeply flawed ACP Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS-click here for full document)!

Here’s are some of the worst problems with the DEIS: Impacts on communities of color and low income communities are claimed to be insignificant. Promised jobs and economic benefits are exaggerated. There’s extremely poor assessment or missing information on environmental, climate, cumulative impacts and safety risks (see more detail in the links below).

When you write your comments in your own words, be SURE to point out that this pipeline is simply NOT needed for economic development, according to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and will contribute substantially to climate change. Another recent study concludes that releases of unburned natural gas from gas fired power plants may be 2 to 120 times higher than previously reported to EPA!   And THAT’S where most of the gas flowing through the ACP would go—to Duke’s and Dominion’s gas fired power plants!

Please use the links below to help you draft comments IN YOUR OWN WORDS. Instructions for submitting them are below the links. THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION!!

Socioeconomic Issues and Environmental Justice
Safety Issues in DEIS
Groundwater Resources
Surface Water and Wetlands
Compressor Stations and Air Quality

How to Submit Your Comments on ACP DEIS to FERC by express mail or by e-comment.

By mail: (FERC recommends you send hard copy comments by overnight express, to prevent long delays while checking your letter for anthrax!)

Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426      BE SURE TO SPECIFY DOCKET NUMBER CP15-554-000

To file your comments electronically: 
Select the points about which you are the most concerned and write them in your own words into a text file such as WORD. Go to https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx to fill out the required short comment registration form.

You will then be sent a link from FERC to submit your e-comment. Click on that link, and be sure to enter the Docket number CP15-554-000. Copy and paste your comments from your text file, up to 6,000 characters, into the comment form by Thursday, April 6 and submit! You can comment more than once if your comments are longer or if you wish to add to them.

Walk to Protect Our People and the Places we Live (APPPL)

Join us this Saturday at 11:00 am for the kickoff of the “Walk to Protect Our People and the Places we Live,” a walk to raise awareness about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Sign up for the Walk here and for more information from APPPL here.

Come hear the struggles of landowners along the proposed route of the ACP, meet local allies, and hear music from Lumbee/Tuscarora singer Charly Lowry.

Meet organizers at least an hour in advance at The Franklinton Center (281 Soundbend Lane, Whitakers) to park, and to catch a free shuttle to the opening ceremony. More info coming soon on other parking options!

This Walk will continue through March 19th in Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Robeson, Scotland, and Richmond Counties. Folks can participate in the Walk on any day/location.

Water, snacks and shuttles will be provided during the entire length of the Walk.​

APPPL Websitehttps://2017acpwalk.org/

Register for Walk herehttps://2017acpwalk.org/register/