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About the Frack Free NC Alliance

“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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As cost of ACP soars, renewable energy better option for NC – Send your comments to Cooper!

BY NED BARNETT MARCH 16, 2020 12:00 AM – Raleigh News & Observer

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a long way from being constructed, but it’s already proving a leaky conduit for cash.

The cost keeps rising for the proposed 600-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia, through Virginia and down to the southern border of North Carolina in Robeson County. Estimated in November 2018 to cost $5.1 billion, the project jointly owned by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, is now expected to cost approximately $8 billion, a 60 percent jump in a year and a half.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run through eight eastern North Carolina counties.

That estimate is bound to go up as the pipeline is stalled by multiple legal challenges. The Supreme Court is weighing one concerning permits for the pipeline crossing under the Appalachian Trail. Even if the pipeline gets past its legal issues, the construction delay and the inevitable unexpected construction issues will add to its price.

The question now is: How much financial pressure can the pipeline stand? Southern Company, once a small partner in the project, sold its 5 percent share to Dominion last month, and Morgan Stanley analysts recently predicted that Dominion will abandon the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in favor of renewable energy. “We believe this project will not move forward due to legal risks, and as a result [Dominion] will pursue additional renewables investments,” the analysts wrote.

That prediction fits with reports that show that power from renewables surged in 2019 as low-cost renewable electricity is becoming cheaper than power from fossil fuels.

Despite the legal and cost issues, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are not wavering. Aaron Ruby, a Dominion spokesman, said, “The ACP remains vitally important to North Carolina’s economy and our shift to clean energy, and we’re totally committed to its completion.” Sasha Weintraub, senior vice president of Duke Energy’s natural gas business unit, said Duke has set ambitious targets for cutting its carbon emissions and “natural gas is a big part of that.”

While the utilities point to the pipeline as providing a fuel that’s cleaner than coal, natural gas isn’t necessarily friendlier to the atmosphere. Obtaining it through fracking has led to extensive leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Meanwhile, renewable energy would certainly be a stronger option if Dominion and Duke spent $8 billion on solar, wind and other renewable sources instead of on a natural gas pipeline.

Last week, a collection of more than 70 social justice, clean energy and faith groups called on Gov. Roy Cooper to declare a climate emergency and block further construction or expansion of natural gas-fired power plants and pipelines.

In a letter to the governor, the groups said, “We contend that ’coping’ with this ongoing emergency includes the authority to help prevent it from growing worse indefinitely.”

Cooper, facing the COVID-19 outbreak, has a more immediate emergency at hand. But the alarm about the long-range threat — and the pipeline’s potential contribution to it — has merit. It is supported by a new climate report written in response to Cooper’s executive order to increase North Carolina’s resilience to the consequences of a warming planet. The North Carolina Climate Science Report found that it is likely that temperatures will “rise substantially” in North Carolina by the end of the century and with the higher heat will come more powerful hurricanes, rising sea levels, more floods and more intense droughts.

After the current crisis, Cooper would do well to consider the one that’s looming. A 600-mile pipeline will only bring it closer. – Raleigh N&O

Tell Governor Cooper that ACP will NOT achieve the goals in his Clean Energy Plan. Climate leaders don’t approve fracked gas pipelines.

Send your comments to Cooper, along with the above opinion editorial!

Twitter: @NC_Governor

Email Contact Form: https://governor.nc.gov/contact/contact-governor-cooper

Written correspondence can be mailed to:
North Carolina Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

Climate Emergency: Tri-State Pipeline Strike Photos & Critical Next Steps!

Thanks to all who were able to attend the Climate Emergency: Tri-State Pipeline Strike in Roanoke on Sept. 23rd!

As part of the Global Strike Week of Action, numerous FrackFree NC organizations joined with activists and impacted community members from across WV, VA, and NC who are on the frontlines of the fight against ACP, MVP and other climate injustices.

If you weren’t able to attend, no worries! Below is a list of printable resources you can use and share with your friends, families and networks:

Divestment letters: Did you know Wells Fargo and SunTrust are just two of the dozens of major financial backers for MVP, ACP, and other fossil fuel projects fueling our global climate crisis? Following our pipeline strike in Roanoke, we delivered a letter to Wells Fargo and SunTrust urging them to turn the tide and become climate champions – to invest in a CLEAN, JUST, and SUSTAINABLE energy future.

If you bank with these institutions, consider delivering this letter to your local branch and issue them a notice of your intent to pull your money from them until they STOP investing in climate injustices.
Divestment Letter to Wells Fargo
Divestment Letter to SunTrust
Resources on how to divest your money from these banks!

Postcard to FERC: The time is ripe for FERC to issue an official Stop Work Order for both ACP and MVP! Download and print your own pre-addressed postcard to send to FERC with a comment on why Commissioners can not allow construction of these rogue pipelines to continue!

You’ll find helpful talking points on the front side of the postcard. Just write your own personal comment on the back, stick a stamp on it, and drop it in the mailbox! Your comment will then be submitted into the official docket
FERC postcard

Calls to Action: Become a climate justice leader! Download our Calls to Action flyer to find out what you can do to urge state and federal officials to hold major polluters like Duke, Dominion, and EQT accountable!
Calls to Action flyer

Belinda Joyner and Richie Harding of Northampton Co. delivering powerful speech on community impacts of ACP and Enviva’s wood pellet facility
Richie Harding speaking his work fighting ACP in his community of Union Hill, VA
Performance art from the rally
Marching in silence to the MLK statue carrying water flags representing the 100s of impacted waterways impacted by MVP & ACP
Gathering with water flags around the MLK statue for closing song and prayer

Climate Emergency: Tri-State Pipeline Strike!

“Climate Emergency: Tri-State Pipeline Strike” will kick off at 10:00 AM in downtown Roanoke, VA, Monday, September 23, 2019!

Wells Fargo Plaza, 26 Salem Ave. SE, Roanoke, VA 24011

As part of the Global Climate Strike week of action, we will be joining with residents and landowners across WV, VA, and NC who are impacted by the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines and other climate-impacting threats.


This is a public, permited, and very family-friendly event! ALL ARE WELCOME!

We will be occupying the Wells Fargo Plaza (outside the Wells Fargo bank) 26 Salem Ave. SE, Roanoke, VA 24011

This public event is the second of two NO MVP / NO ACP actions coordinated by a tri-state coalition of WV, NC, and VA pipeline resisters. The “Circle of Protection” event will take place the day before on Sunday, Sept. 22, and will seek to serve and elevate the voices of the host community, in this case, Bent Mountain, and others now facing the destructive robbery of the Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline. Communities resisting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline threat will come to tell their own story and stand in solidarity to protect the region’s rights to clean water and to protect their own homes and future.

View our list of resources, including information on nearby lodging!:

More info on the “Circle of Protection” event https://www.facebook.com/events/1367765696703853/?active_tab=about

Everyone is required to register for the “Circle of Protection” event here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VfIndsUQN5kDOXOBQyg4v5OdJljRmlVAf1MMZ11JRLU/viewform?edit_requested=true

Join us! Save the dates! Shout and share!

Co-sponsored by: Clean Water for North Carolina, FrackFree NC, Chatham Research Group, 350 Triangle, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Protect Our Water – POW, Concern for the New Generation, Concerned Citizens of Northampton County, Triangle Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, NC Alliance To Protect Our People And The Places We Live, NC Poor People’s Campaign, Water is Life. Protect it., Friends of Buckingham, Appalachian Voices, Mothers Out Front – Roanoke and New River Valley, Mothers Out Front – Richmond, Mothers Out Front – Fairfax County, Mothers Out Front, The Chesapeake Pipeline Resistance, RVA Interfaith Climate Justice League, Virginia Peoples Climate Movement, Virginians Against Pipelines, Food & Water Watch – Virginia, Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, Sustainable Roanoke, Friends of the Earth, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun – Earth Justice Team, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia Sierra Club – New River Valley Chapter

Join us! Save the dates! Shout and share!

If your organization would like to co-sponsor this event, please email Hope Taylor at hope@cwfnc.org

Bishop William J. Barber, II & The Poor People’s Campaign in Northampton County!

Activists and Impacted Landowners/Residents Meet with NC Legislators to Stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline!

On April 9th, a number of grassroots organizations joined with pipeline-impacted residents and landowners to lobby our N.C. legislature in Raleigh during the “Clean Energy, Not Fracked Gas Lobby Day”.

The joint advocacy day focused on educating legislators on the mounting legal challenges, lack of need, community health impacts, and diminishing economic viability of the ACP. Lobbying efforts also focused on educating legislators about the lack of need for the MVP Southgate extension through Rockingham and Alamance counties.

We asked that each legislator commit to protecting our communities and fragile environment by signing on to a letter to FERC urging them to issue an official stop work order AND rescind ACP’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

By the end of the day, 18 legislators had agreed to sign on to the letter! This even includes Senator Erica Smith of Northampton County, who admitted that she had indeed drank the “ACP kool-aid” in the past, but now realizes that the pipeline will do nothing to help her constituents or her county’s economy.

Thank you to all who met with or contacted their state representatives. Together, we WILL stop this pipeline!

Hope Taylor: A tale of two pipelines and the conscience of our state

Hope Taylor
Hope Taylor, Executive Director, Clean Water for NC

We need to look at the way North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality has dealt with two proposed new gas pipelines as they were considered for construction, to see what it reveals about looking at facts and valuing communities in different regions of our state. It’s been 14 months since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a “Certificate of Convenience and Necessity” for the 600 mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, to bring fracked gas from West Virginia to eight eastern N.C. counties. The DEQ has had numerous permits to review, with two of the most important ones being the 401 water quality certification and the air permit for a compressor station to push the gas 186 miles in N.C.

Who is building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and why? Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, two of the nation’s largest electric utilities, say that the ACP is needed to supply much needed gas to the Southeast. But for nearly three years, many of us who follow energy needs and production closely have understood the pipeline to be a boondoggle for two of the nation’s biggest utility companies, Duke and Dominion, to make up to 14 percent profit on the $5.5 billion (now $7 billion!) cost of building the pipeline through rate hikes to electric and gas customers. With electricity demand flat for the two mega-utilities, pipeline building presented a much more lucrative income opportunity. With federal approvals, just building a pipeline, whether it’s needed or ever used, becomes a more profitable bet than generating electricity.

We countered the utilities’ claims of need for more gas and electricity by presenting federal and N.C. regulators with studies from several well-regarded energy and financial analysis organizations, and pointed out that it’s customers, NOT shareholders, who would end up paying for the pipeline. We expected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ignore those studies — they are infamous as a rubber stamp for pipeline projects, only looking at contracts to purchase the gas to flow through the pipeline. But for N.C. regulators to ignore that information was stunning.

The Dept. of Environmental Quality had multiple opportunities to consider the issues of need and economic and social impacts, and didn’t raise them. Only the NC Utilities Commission pointed out the excessive 14 percent profit margin when the federal approval came in October, 2017. The increased utility rates will disproportionately impact residents with lower incomes. African American and Native American residents and communities will be disproportionately impacted — in fact , it sure looks like several eastern N.C. communities were targeted by the pipeline builders as being poorer and having less political clout.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate Extension project announced last year is being built by gas extraction companies rather than mega-utilities, and would enter N.C. in Rockingham and Alamance Counties. We salute the local and regional advocates who got out early and have built opposition to the project through presentations to local governments. Both pipelines are unneeded and would cause disruptions for the community and landowners, as well as safety risks and ongoing leaks of methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas than the carbon dioxide that Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order on Climate would try to reduce.

While DEQ never argued to the federal agency that the ACP was unneeded, it made exactly that argument to FERC about the MVP Southgate Extension last month. Their analysis acknowledges that there are other pipelines in the same region and the ACP would have only a slight impact on the lack of need for the smaller MVP Extension. We have to ask: Why is DEQ ready to accept a huge fracked gas pipeline in eastern N.C., with its generally much lower household incomes and high percentage of people of color, while questioning the need for the smaller pipeline going through much whiter, higher income counties?

Both pipelines will contribute to worsening climate change, dislocation of residents, unneeded costs, and environmental damage. But what does it tell us about our state’s commitment to fair treatment that the DEQ has raised key questions of need about the smaller proposed MVP Extension, but not about the much larger, more costly Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

Now, while ACP construction has been shut down due to yet another inadequate and illegal federal permit, it’s not too late for our state to put an end to the exploding costs of this unnecessary, unjust and dangerous pipeline for the people of North Carolina.

Hope Taylor is executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina. She has a public health degree in environmental chemistry and biology from UNC Chapel Hill, and was previously a research biochemist at National Institutes of Health and Duke University, and a community advisor under EPA Superfund Technical Assistance program.

NEW!: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction Updates in NC!

The most recent report submitted by ACP follows the decision by the Fourth Circuit Court to pull two key federal permits. Construction of new activities along the entire route has stopped, but ACP continues to “stabilize” the corridor, which includes laying pipe and backfilling trenches. Drilling under the Tar River in Nash County will push forward, while monitoring of erosion and control devices along the entire route will continue during this work stoppage.

Marvin Winstead, Nash County resident and farmer, points out to the spot where ACP will cut through community streams.

The FrackFreeNC Alliance will be posting weekly summaries of pipeline construction throughout the eight North Carolina to help inform communities on construction timelines, construction violations, and what to expect in their backyards in the coming weeks. Visit ACP Weekly Reports page

Dec. 1, Tar River Flotilla to Stop the ACP in Nash County!

ACP builders are drilling underneath the Tar River, and this is a chance for activists to show your resistance!  There will be a flotilla of canoes and small boats starting at 1:30 PM and floating past the drilling site to a takeout about 2 miles downstream. For those who do not wish to be in boats, there will be plenty of banners, signs, etc. for use on the ground outside the pipeline corridor! We will stay outside the ACP corridor and will NOT BE RISKING ARREST DURING THIS ACTION!

Please fill out the entire Registration Form, including the Waiver of Liability if you are planning to participate either on the river or on land. Hosting organizations will take reasonable precautions to assure the safety of participants in this event. 

Contact event coordinators if you have further questions or would like to help with planning!

Hope Taylor (Promotions team), hope@cwfnc.org
Lib Hutchby (Visuals team), libhutchby5@gmail.com
Marvin Winstead (Canoe/Smal Boats team), marvinwinstead@gmail.com
John Wagner (Canoe/Smal Boats team), john_wagner@sarbo.net

Remember, you must fill out both the Registration Form and the Waiver of Liability to participate in the event on water OR land!

NC Politicians on the Take from ACP Corporate Partners

While influence is a tricky thing to measure, the regular pumping of donations to state and federal legislators and other elected officials by the fossil fuel industry is a majorobstacle to a clean energy transition. And here in North Carolina, one doesn’t have to look farther than the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) as a prime example.

Demand for natural gas is flat or declining. It is entirely possible to meet all our energy needs in NC through renewable  power, such as solar and wind. Not to mention the hype of job creation from the project is gross exaggeration, as only 18 permanent jobs in NC would be created! Why, then, did at least 20 NC Representatives and both Governors McCrory and Cooper roll out the red carpet for Duke and Dominion’s fracked gas pipeline? A quick search on the NC State Board of Elections website provides an answer.

As far back as 2013, Duke and Dominion began lining the pockets of NC legislators representing the counties in the path of the proposed pipeline route with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Governor Cooper, who celebrated the permit giving the go-ahead for pipeline construction with a message about economic development, was receiving campaign funding from Dominion in November of 2013, long before the gubernatorial election!

Senator Angela Bryant, who represented three of the ACP-impacted counties up until her resignation, also had received contributions in the thousands from both Duke and Dominion back in 2013, and Representative Garland Pierce for Robeson County has accumulated a whopping $13,100 from both companies dating back to this time.

You can literally take a pen to a map and trace substantial campaign contributions from Duke and Dominion down the path of the eight ACP- impacted counties: Sen. Erica Smith in Northampton, Rep. Jeff Collins in Nash, Rep.  Jean-Farmer Butterfield in Wilson, Rep. Susan Martin in Wilson, Rep. Ken Goodman and Rep. Brenden Jones in Robeson, and many others – have all been buttered up by campaign contributions from builders of the Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipeline, putting their campaign war chests  before the welfare of their own communities and the environment!

Clean Water for NC advocates for state representatives to prioritize the community health, climate, justice and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits, and calls on current candidates to refuse any contributions from oil, gas, and coal industries.

If you want to check if fossil fuel money is going into your representatives’ pockets, you can follow Democracy NC’s easy step-by-step guide to reviewing campaign finance reports. Happy hunting!

“Best in Class” Pipeline Explodes 5 months after installation

(Read Clean Water for NC’s “High Consequence Areas, Blast Zones and Public Safety Along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” Report)

At 4:20 AM on June 7, a pipeline rupture was reported in Marshall County, West Virginia. “This is truly a best-in-class pipeline and we look forward to many years of safe, reliable and efficient operation.” These were the words used by TransCanada’s president back in January to describe the Leach Xpress pipeline that sent fireballs into the sky early Thursday morning. The fracked gas pipeline installed just five months ago is part of the larger Columbia Gas Transmission network spanning over 10,000 miles throughout Appalachia. While the explosion occurred in the remote area of Nixon Ridge, this area is only 8 miles from Moundsville, a city with a population of about 9,000 and part of the larger Wheeling metropolitan area.

While an investigation is currently underway, this explosion provides an all too real look into pipeline disasters we could face here in North Carolina. Strikingly, the Leach Xpress Pipeline and ACP have exactly the same diameter and operating pressures, and both transport highly explosive fracked gas throughout Appalachia. Even more unsettling, the ACP will be regulated by the same government agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in charge of regulating safety measures for the Leach XPress, and has been under fire for lax pipeline inspections in recent years. Former TransCanada materials engineer-turned whistleblower, Evan Vokes, has been very critical of PHMSA inspection standards, stating “PHMSA regulators did nothing to stop TransCanada from building a pipeline that was bound to fail,” remarking of the Keystone pipeline spill back in 2017.

Thousands and thousands of miles of fracked gas pipelines weave throughout West Virginia and the region is very familiar with explosions. Remarking on the Leach Xpress rupture, residents in the area shrugged the event off, with one man stating to a news reporter, “It’s getting to where you look around and it’s like, there goes another one.”

Opening up the floodgates to networks of fracked gas pipelines in North Carolina puts countless communities at risk of explosions and leaks. By approving the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, our state governing bodies have created a situation where children growing up in North Carolina could think of exploding gas pipelines as “normal”, waking up in the middle of the night saying, “Look, mom, there goes another one.”