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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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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!

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