Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents huddled inside Raleigh's Unitarian Universalist church last night to watch Water Warriors
, a documentary tracking a remote Canadian community's successful fight against a Texas-based oil and gas company. The screening was part of an ongoing statewide effort to oppose the ACP, a six-hundred-mile pipeline
that would transport fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia and into eight eastern North Carolina counties.
A fierce opposition movement has coalesced around the $5 billion mega-project. The joint venture by Duke and Dominion energies is one of eleven proposed pipelines in the Southeast, five of which have already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Opponents say the ACP will cause irreparable environmental damage, lead to rising utility costs, and disproportionately affect poor and minority communities (about thirty thousand Native Americans live along the proposed route). The pipeline is slated cut through 320 waterways in North Carolina and impact a thousand landowners. The INDY
highlighted the concerns of many of the affected communities facing off the project in an in-depth feature
At last night's movie screening, pipeline opponents highlighted activists' successful and unexpected campaign against the Texas-based oil and gas company SWN Resources when it arrived in New Brunswick, Canada, in 2013 to search for gas—an area well-known for its forestry, farming, and fishing operations. The company's arrival prompted a wave of activism among the rural community's residents, who were concerned about water quality, among other issues. The diverse group included members of the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation, French-speaking Acadians, and white, English-speaking families. They set up encampments and a series of roadblocks that prevented the company from drilling, ultimately resulting in an indefinite moratorium on fracking in the province.
ACP opponents are hoping to have that kind of success. Although the pipeline has already been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it still must obtain water and air quality permits from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality before it can go forward. In October, DEQ rejected Duke and Dominion's application for the permit, asking for additional information about the project's impacts on streams and waterways (a final decision from DEQ is pending). In a statement, Duke called DEQ's denial a "normal part of the process"—but it is one that, if finalized, could forestall the multibillion-dollar project from being built, putting enormous pressure on Governor Cooper's administration.
Earlier this week, affected landowners and environmental groups rallied in front of DEQ's office in Raleigh, delivering a postcard to Governor Cooper thanking him for signing North Carolina to the U.S. Climate Alliance, and urging him to deny the state permits for the ACP. And on Wednesday, about eighty people weighed in at a public hearing
for the air quality permit in Garysburg. DEQ opened
the public comment period for the air-quality permit last month and will be receiving them until Monday, November 20.
When the project receives all of its necessary state and federal permits, developers can start seizing private property needed to begin construction under
eminent domain laws. Last week, the Justice Department committed
to prosecute protesters who "damage or shut down" infrastructure projects, including pipelines. The Justice Department's statement was in response to a letter sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking whether domestic terrorism law applies to activists who shut down pipelines last year.
More information on the permitting application can be found here
, and public comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.