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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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Concerned Stewards of Halifax County, Nash Stop the Pipeline, Wilson County No Pipeline, No Pipeline Johnston County, Cumberland County Caring Voices, EcoRobeson, Concerned Citizens of Tillery, Concerned Citizens of Northampton County, NC Environmental Justice Network, Friends of the Earth, Clean Water for NC, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, NC WARN

 

NEWS RELEASE                                                       CONTACTS LISTED AT THE END

May 15, 2018

ACP Neighbors file Federal Complaint against NC DEQ for Environmental Justice Violations

Groups say approval of Atlantic Coast Pipeline cheated vulnerable residents out of federal civil rights protections for low-income communities and people of color

Durham, N.C. – An alliance of community, statewide and national groups today filed a federal complaint seeking to stop a hotly contested pipeline that would pump so-called natural gas from Appalachian fracking fields into and across North Carolina.  The complaint alleges that Gov. Roy Cooper and several state agencies cheated communities along the proposed pipeline route by skirting requirements designed to ensure that such projects don’t target areas deemed to lack political power due to their racial and economic makeup.

Filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Civil Rights Compliance Office, the complaint calls on the EPA to require three state agencies to overturn the permits granted for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), to require a new environmental justice analysis that adheres to federal law and to conduct a public hearing in eastern North Carolina.  (See attachments here)

The alliance includes community groups from seven of the counties through which the 36-inch, high-pressure pipeline would travel in North Carolina.  The $6 billion project is in the early stages of construction by Duke Energy and Dominion Power and was expected to primarily serve power plants in North Carolina and Virginia, though electricity demand is expected to remain flat for many years.

Robie Goins of EcoRobeson, whose Lumbee family land is being impacted by the pipeline, said today: “Our people live off of the resources that our ancestors fought so hard to protect.  Companies like Duke Energy and Dominion once again are considering those families sacrificial.  It’s time this stops and it’s time to allow the families who are affected the chance to determine what their communities need, instead of outside corporations intruding and deciding that for them.”

The groups say federal and state agencies discriminated on the basis of race and color because they failed to assess the disproportionate impacts of the proposed ACP on communities of color as required under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  They allege that the agencies failed to assess the environmental and health impacts on families and communities along the route caused by construction and operation of the pipeline and its cumulative impacts such as climate extremes that are already impacting the region and are being made worse by the increased use of fracked gas.

Attorneys for the groups say both state and federal regulators paid only passing attention to Title VI when approving the ACP.  The civil rights division was created after analysis showed that, for years, polluters in North Carolina and other states targeted low-income communities and people of color for noxious facilities because they were seen as lacking the political power to stop such projects.

Belinda Joyner, President of Concerned Citizens of Northampton County, said today: “This pipeline will benefit us in no shape, form or fashion.  The economic development types don’t mind harming us, but if a pipeline were planned close to their homes, they’d say it would bring their property value down.  Well, for people of color in sacrifice zones, not only will it bring our property value down, it will kill us at the same time. But do they care?”

In the complaint, NC WARN attorney John Runkle described the curious way federal regulators measured potential ACP impacts on local residents: comparing the incomes of residents close to the pipeline with statewide incomes, while only comparing racial characteristics of residents close to the pipeline with the county in which the project is located.  He noted that the FERC analysis masked large disproportionate impacts on communities of color, particularly Native American and African-American populations along the route.

Valerie Williams, a member of Concerned Stewards of Halifax County and an African American landowner in Halifax County, said: “The land is our family tree and it speaks of legacies, heritage, and memories. No one would take that away from us.”  She resolves, “No pipelines on our valuable historic farms. No Intruders on our land.”

The complaint cites a recent study by the Research Triangle Institute that demonstrates the failure of the federal analysis – which was adopted by the state agencies – along with the ACP’s impacts on communities of color.  RTI concludes, “The counties crossed by proposed ACP route collectively have a significantly higher percentage minority population than the rest of the counties in the state.”

A 2017 analysis by an NC State University professor determined that the agencies failed to acknowledge disproportionately large Native American populations living along the proposed pipeline route, noting that in North Carolina alone, some 30,000 Native Americans live in census tracts that FERC considers to be part of the project area.  Compared to their statewide numbers, the analysis also found that Native Americans are over-represented by a factor of ten along the North Carolina section of the pipeline route.

Compounding the failure to perform a rigorous environmental justice analysis, the regulators refused formal consultation with the tribal governments along the route, according to the complaint.

Naemma Muhammad, co-director of the NC Environmental Justice Network, added: “How many more Title VI Complaints have to be filed before our government takes seriously the concerns of the communities, and is honest and comprehensive about environmental impact statements.  These poor communities of color face an enormously disproportionate burden of a wide range of impacts.”

Gov. Cooper has been criticized from across the political spectrum for announcing – just as a critical state water permit was issued – a deal whereby the ACP owners put up $58 million for mitigation, clean energy projects and economic development.  This raised questions about whether state agencies had completed their review of water and economic development impacts, especially because Duke and Dominion were openly pressing the Governor and NC DEQ for final approvals.

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CONTACTS:

  • Attorney John Runkle 919-942-0600
  • Robie Goins, EcoRobeson and member of impacted Lumbee family 910-734-2814
  • Belinda Joyner, Concerned Citizens of Northampton County (contact via Hope 919-401-9600)
  • Hope Taylor, Clean Water for NC  919-401-9600
  • Therese Vick, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League 919-345-3673

 

A second natural gas pipeline proposed for NC would run through Rockingham, Alamance counties

By Lisa Sorg, NC Policy Watch

An extension of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline has been proposed for North Carolina, potentially opening the door for fracking operations in Rockingham County.

Known as MVP Southgate, the 300-mile pipeline would extend from Pittsylvania County, Va., into Rockingham and Alamance counties.

Once in North Carolina, the pipeline would route for about 50 miles: east of Eden, north of Reidsville and then into Alamance County, near Graham and I-40.

The routing is ominous because western Rockingham County is one of the areas of the state eyed for fracking. Rockingham County, along with Stokes County, sit atop the Triassic Rift Basin, thought to be a source of methane.

Coincidentally, the state’s Oil and Gas Commission recently reconvened after being on hiatus for several years. Headed by Jim Womack, an avid fracking proponent from Lee County, the commission is expected to restart the interest in natural gas exploration in North Carolina. Chatham and Lee county governments both have established moratoria on fracking; earlier this year, Womack said the oil and gas commission would challenge those moratoria.

Like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is running through 160 miles in eastern North Carolina, the MVP starts at a fracked gas facility in West Virginia and routes through Virginia.

MVP is owned by a conglomerate: EQT Midstream Partners, NextEra Energy, Inc., Consolidated Edison, Inc., WGL Holdings, Inc., and RGC Resources. PSNC Energy, which serves North Carolina, has committed to using the gas should the Southgate portion be built.

Since the Southgate portion of the MVP was not in the original proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the extension would need its approval.

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Sends Letter to Gov. to Stop Harassment and Surveillance by ACP, LLC Security Contractors

March 23, 2018

The Honorable Roy Cooper
Governor
State of North Carolina

Dear Governor Cooper:

On behalf of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), I write to urge you to protect North Carolina communities from security firms representing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The oil and gas industry’s activities to oppress opposition and sway opinion are well documented. For example, in North Dakota, peaceful water protectors were shot with rubber bullets, sprayed with water cannons in sub-zero temperatures and had dogs set on them.

In North Carolina, private security operatives have been and continue to be active in counties in the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). During the summer of 2017, I attended a meeting of the Johnston County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) where representatives of the ACP were presenting. A speaker who identified himself as Dominion security described his trip to Standing Rock, North Dakota, and then proceeded to tell the attendees that Dominion was “monitoring potential resistance, including local opposition” to the ACP. The implications were clear, and his further comments were a not-so-subtle attempt to paint local opponents as “radicals”— local citizens like the teachers, farmers, ministers, firefighters, doctors, parents and grandparents throughout the eight counties targeted by the ACP. Similar comments were reported from LEPC meetings in Nash and Robeson Counties.

At public hearings, private security firms for Dominion/ACP have been observed photographing people who spoke in opposition to the pipeline. They were also observed taking pictures of their license plates. This kind of activity is clearly an attempt to intimidate.

Most recently, landowners attempting to document surveying and tree-cutting activities have been filmed by and experienced aggressive behavior from members of out-of-state crews. Most of these companies are not licensed in North Carolina.

Governor Cooper, it is up to you to make it clear to Dominion, Duke and other Atlantic Coast Pipeline partners that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Please advise us as to actions you will take to protect North Carolina communities from harassment and intimidation by mercenaries working on behalf of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Sincerely,

Therese Vick
North Carolina Healthy, Sustainable Communities/Coal Ash Campaign Coordinator
CC: Attorney General Josh Stein

Environmental Justice Advocates: ACP Compressor Station Permit is More Evidence of “Air of Injustice” for Pipeline

Concerned Citizens of Northampton County ◊ NAACP Northampton Branch ◊ Clean Water for North Carolina

For Immediate Release Contact: Hope Taylor, Clean Water for NC

919-401-9600

“They just haven’t been listening to us, they had a meeting with us just to be able to say they met,” says Belinda Joyner, President of Concerned Citizens of Northampton County, in response to news that the ACP, LLC had been granted an air permit for its ACP Compressor Station in her county near the Virginia border that will push fracked gas south through the state. Joyner had gone door to door in the area around the proposed compressor station site with Clean Water for North Carolina staff and volunteers last fall, and found that nearby residents were mostly African American senior citizens with limited incomes, unaware of the pipeline or compressor station that was planned in their area.

“The turnout at the November public hearing was large and there were thousands of written comments on the air compressor permit,” continues Joyner. “ Most were strongly opposed to the permit and many pointed out the Environmental Justice implications of siting a polluter in this area, but DAQ only made very minor changes to the permit! Our tax dollars pay them, but it’s clear they are not working for us!” The compressor station is expected to release toxic air pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde, but there will be no monitoring required for toxic and hazardous air pollutants. ACP will do its own performance tests every two years and report them to DAQ. Even off-site monitors that DAQ is asking community residents to assist in siting will only monitor nitrogen oxides and fine particulates, not toxic or hazardous emissions.

The air permit for the compressor station is one of the last ones that ACP, LLC, a project led by Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, needs for the project. ACP corporate partners claim that the fracked gas from West Virginia is needed to meet power and industrial needs in VA and NC, but studies by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and Synapse Energy Economics found that the gas was not needed, and that utility customers would be paying most of the cost to build an unnecessary pipeline. When Dominion began openly talking about extending the ACP into South Carolina, pipeline opponents realized that what they suspected all along would probably happen—much of the gas conveyed by the ACP would be carried to coastal facilities, cooled, compressed and shipped overseas to more lucrative markets. There was little chance that new industries would invest in costly hookups to the pipeline, even if the $58M “mitigation and economic development fund” had stayed intact. The Duke and Dominion statements about thousands of new permanent jobs along the ACP is are literally a “pipe dream.”

Hope Taylor, Executive Director of Clean Water for NC, points out: “With a population around the compressor station that’s nearly 80% African American and having had a remarkably large public response for project in a rural area, it’s clear that our state’s Environmental Equity Policy doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Every permit issued for this pipeline spreads the air of injustice for poor residents and communities of color.”

Taylor’s organization released a study on “Blast Zones and Public Safety Along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” last summer, pointing out areas along where hundreds of people would be at risk of grave injury or death in case of a pipeline rupture or leak. Areas in Garysburg and around the pipeline and compressor station are within the “blast” or “incineration” zone reaching over 940 feet either side of the pipeline. “This means that residents along the pipeline, who are disproportionately low income and people of color, will be impacted several times over by the ACP: the disruption and loss of property value due to pipeline construction, the increased risk to health and safety from pipeline and compressor station accidents, and the increased utility bills they will pay for constructing the pipeline, which is now expected to cost over $6 B.”

Tony Burnett, President of the Northampton County Branch of the NAACP, says “We’re very disappointed in this pipeline continuing to move forward, despite all of the serious concerns that have been raised. We in the NAACP stand for what we believe in and we stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. The ACP imposes a tax on all of us, but especially the poorest , of which there are many in Northampton County, who will be facing further steep electric rate hikes in coming years to pay for the ACP, which we don’t even need!”

DEQ Expected to Grant 401 Permit for ACP Friday–Call the Governor!

ALERT FOR ALL OPPONENTS OF THE ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE!

We’ve just learned that Duke Energy has cranked up the heat on Governor Cooper’s administration to approve the Water Quality Permit for the destructive fracked-gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline by the end of THIS WEEK!! Duke and its corporate partner in the ACP, Dominion Energy, are pushing hard to build the project as soon as possible, so they they can start reaping huge profits from building the pipeline and jacking up your electric rates!

But N.C. environmental regulators (DEQ) who are responsible for protecting our natural resources have not reviewed all of the potential impacts on our public resources, and they haven’t even evaluated the limited and misleading economic information sent by ACP, LLC following DEQ’s “additional information request.” The governor MUST call for more public hearings – at least 3 sites distributed along the pipeline corridor – to collect input on a project that could harm our communities for decades to come.

Please call Governor Cooper TODAY at (919) 814-2000 and tell him to require DEQ to hold public hearings on the additional information submitted by the ACP.

You can also email his energy and environment Policy Advisor, Jeremy Tarr, at jeremy.tarr@nc.gov, and the Secretary of DEQ, Michael.Regan@ncdenr.gov. Thank you – your action could make a critical difference!

This massive fracked-gas pipeline would run 186 miles through Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Cumberland and Robeson Counties. All of these counties except Johnston County have higher percentages persons of color than the state average, and higher poverty rates, too. Hundreds of landowners and residents would be displaced or impacted, and would face increased risks. Some of the most vulnerable residents of eastern NC will face most of the adverse impacts, with little or no chance of getting even temporary jobs, much less the long term economic development that ACP has claimed! Finally, hundreds of vulnerable streams, wetlands and rivers will be degraded for a project that isn’t even needed, as energy demand has been flat in the southeast for years, and is expected to remain so. Any additional energy demand can be more than met by safer, more cost effective, more job-creating renewable energy and energy efficiency installations!

Possible script for calling the Governor’s office:

We ask that you authorize the DEQ to IMMEDIATELY plan for at least 3 more public hearings along the proposed ACP corridor to address the economic development, health, safety and environmental concerns being raised, as well as claims and information submitted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP, LLC) since the close of the original comment period. We ask that you take as firm as stance against the ACP as you have against offshore drilling. Both of these proposed projects would lock North Carolina into another generation of fossil fuel use, delaying the shift to more cost effective and cleaner energy sources, and the adverse impacts would greatly outweigh any benefits.

Can’t call today? Consider sending a tweet to @NC_Governor and @NCDEQ with the message above.

ACP march

Marching against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in eastern NC.

Now’s the time: contact Governor, DEQ, Congress about the ACP!

Did you know that FERC has given ACP limited approval to cut down trees along the proposed path of the ACP in WV and VA? It’s a critical time to thank Governor Cooper and the Dept. of Environmental Quality for their “due diligence” in reviewing a range of NC permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and remind them of the harms it will cause!

Governor Cooper’s office: (919) 814-2000
NC DEQ 401 permitting contacts: Karen Higgins, karen.higgins@ncdenr.gov
Jennifer Burdette, jennifer.burdette@ncdenr.gov

It’s also a great time to write a letter to the editor to your local paper, or to one of the key papers along the route of the ACP: The Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald, The Wilson Times, The Rocky Mount Telegram, The Fayetteville Observer, or The Robesonian.

Review the background below to help write your letters to officials and letter to the editor!

CWFNC’s official comments to NC DEQ on the 401 water quality certification, still under consideration by NC Div. of Water Resources. DEQ has sent FIVE letters requesting more information from ACP, LLC, include asking for documentation of touted socioeconomic benefits.

Here’s the page that DEQ has established for posting documents about the ACP, as well as ACP’s responses, and a description of the current status of various permits as of January 23rd.

While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a “conditional” approval for the ACP last October 13th, over 40 public interest groups and some elected officials are calling for a “rehearing”, the first step in a legal challenge to the FERC permit. Here’s the challenge filed on behalf of several FrackFreeNC groups. This is probably the most comprehensive explanation as to why the ACP should never have been granted a “certificate of necessity and convenience” from FERC, drafted by a team of advocates and filed by attorney John Runkle.

Here’s an example letter or opinion editorial! Please borrow bits, revise, and shorten to suit your chosen paper.

Contact your NC and Federal Officials about the ACP At This Critical Time!

There’s no evidence that the ACP will create any lasting jobs or economic development in poor, rural counties.  Speak up for safe water, air and the rights of landowners and residents!  

Help us take action! Click here to help us flood the Governor’s office with Holiday-themed NO ACP postcards. Pick your favorite design here and send a digital postcard to the Governor. You can also download and print at home!

Thank the Governor (919-814-2000) and key DEQ officials for their rigorous, critical review of all permits for the ACP.  Ask them to do the right thing and turn down permits for water quality certification, stormwater and sediment and erosion plans that do NOT protect the interests of the public or North Carolina waters.

 

 

 

 

Also Contact (call or email) your elected state and federal officials of either party and let them know your thinking on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Energy demand in the southeast US is flat, there is simply no need for a huge new pipeline or new gas fired power plants—they will NOT create jobs, but will cause significant climate harm and will take resources away from $billions in anticipated renewable energy development that actually WILL help create rural jobs.   

If you are not in an ACP impacted county, it’s still important that your officials know how you feel about the ACP!  Look your officials up by county using this link. If you are in an ACP impacted county, use the links below to find all of your state and federal elected officials.  Remember, the 5-10 minutes you spend contacting your officials could have a major impact on later decisions and coverage!    Thank you!

Northampton                               Halifax                          Nash                          Wilson
Johnston                                     Sampson                      Cumberland              Robeson

Comment to Division of Air Quality on the Northampton County Compressor Station Permit

Below is a comment made to the NC Division of Air Quality on November 15th in Garysburg NC on the Northampton County Compressor Station

Good evening, I am Ericka Faircloth of Clean Water for North Carolina, and also a founder of
EcoRobeson, and I thank you for the opportunity to make these comments on a major new
threat to Northampton County.

As required by NC DEQ’s long standing Environmental Equity Policy and its obligations under
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, DEQ must consider the project’s disproportionate
environmental harms to minority and low income communities. NC is 22% African American,
however this compressor station is within a census block group where 79.2% of the population
is African American. This to me is a big red flag; this compressor station and Atlantic Coast
Pipeline are environmental justice issues.

From conducting door-to- door outreach in the Town of Garysburg, and near the compressor
station, we found that most residents were not aware of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
or the compressor station. Also, from conducting outreach within a half a mile of the ACP route
in Wilson, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson Counties, I found that residents were mostly
unaware of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project and its close proximity to their homes. Many of
these residents closest to the ACP and compressor station have not been notified about this
project and that’s unacceptable!

For those who wish to cite economic development, my family lives in Robeson County, one of
the poorest regions in the country, and we already have 2 existing natural gas pipelines. But
where are the jobs? Where is the economic boom? There isn’t any, it doesn’t exist, and there’s
no reason to expect any jobs or economic development from the ACP.

Energy demand in NC has been flat for years, that’s a fact, and it is projected to be flat for years
to come. The natural gas we need can come from the existing Transco pipeline. This huge new
pipeline is not needed, which means this compressor station is not needed. These projects pose
a completely unnecessary risk to public health and safety.

PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) documents show that
pipelines built since 2010 fail more than pipelines build before the 1940’s. Why is that? It’s
because of the guaranteed 14% rate of return offered by FERC. There has been a rush to build
pipelines since 2010 because companies know they can make huge profits from them. It’s not
about need or public benefits– it’s about money.

DAQ, please deny this permit.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline–NC Can Stop it!

November 9th, 2017

Even before FERC’s “conditional approval” of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Oct. 13, NC’s Dept. of Environmental Quality was requesting lots more information from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline about how they would protect NC water quality, and actually disapproving ACP’s application for an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.

The ACP is NOT a “done deal”–YOU can make a difference! By thanking key NC regulators for their rigorous review of the ACP applications and encouraging them to disapprove these permits, you’ll let them know the public is watching.

Come to the  “All I Want for Christmas is NO ACP” Rally on Monday, November 13th  12:00 PM in front of the Dept of Admininistration Bldg, 116 W. Jones St.and let DEQ that we expect them to do the right thing!

WV compressor station located near where ACP would start

November 15th is the Air Quality permit hearing for the huge compressor station planned for Northampton County!  This compressor station would release particulates, methane and toxic volatile organic compounds as well as bring high noise levels to nearby residents. The hearing will be on November 15th, at Garysburg Town Hall (504 Old Highway Road), and you can send comments to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov until Nov. 20th. For more information on the hearing, check here. Facebook event page hereFor key concerns and talking points on the permit click here.

 

Presentations from the Regional Summit on ACP Impacts

Cathy Kunkel

Energy Analyst, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis

Do we need it? Economics of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

 

 

 

 

Marvin Winstead

Nash County Landowner with Nash Stop the Pipeline

ACP Impacts on Landowners and Actions to Prevent Eminent Domain Abuse

 

 

 

Jorden Revels

UNC-Pembroke Student, EcoRobeson

Ericka Faircloth

Clean Water for NC, EcoRobeson

ACP Impacts on Native Ancestral Lands

 

 

Therese Vick

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

Health and Safety Impacts of Natural Gas Compressor Stations

 

 

 

Oshin Paranjape

Duke University Collaborator

High Consequence Areas, Blast Zones, and Public Safety along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Video presentation (no slides embedded).

 

 

John Runkle

Environmental Attorney

It Ain’t Over til’ it’s Over — Legal Challenges to FERC & DEQ Decisions

 

 

 

 

Xavier Boatwright, Hope Taylor

Clean Water for NC

Rising Up for a Just Energy and Climate Future in NC