RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Thursday is the deadline for people to chime in on a controversial natural gas pipeline proposed to pass through 200 miles of North Carolina.
Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from Robeson County to the Virginia state line in Northampton County could begin later this year. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is accepting public comment through Thursday on the multi-billion-dollar project.
A group of leading North Carolina lawmakers expressed their support Tuesday. They include the Republican Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, and Senate President Pro Tempore, as well as the Democratic Senate Minority Leader.
Dozens of environmental organizations and thousands of land owners oppose the pipeline. Members of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League are on an eight-day tour this week to visit communities along the planned route. They are providing information about their activism during stops in North Carolina and Virginia.
“We’re really encouraging people to submit those comments, but more importantly, we’re encouraging people to come out and start to rally and be visible in their opposition to this,” Lois Gibbs said.
“This pipeline is horrible, not needed, and it’s going to destroy so much farm land and other land here in North Carolina that is prime. The only one who profits from this is the corporations.”
No Pipeline Johnston County is among the groups involved in protests against the pipeline. Participants do not want the natural gas going through their property.
Jimmy Casey, a farmer who took part in Wednesday’s event in Smithfield, said energy companies installed a smaller natural gas pipeline through some of his land several years ago. Those fields are separate from his homestead, but the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would pass his property within about 400 yards of his bedroom.
“Makes me mad, because I know it’s probably going to wind up behind my house and I don’t want it there,” he said.
“If I’m farming across and if that line were to explode, it would incinerate me and my house and my buildings and everything around.”
Casey is also concerned for the quality of crops. He said the natural gas lines installed under his fields a few years ago had a major impact. Casey showed pictures at Wednesday’s rally of the crops above the lines faring worse than others which do not have natural gas flowing underneath.
Activists such as BREDL executive director Lou Zeller said it is important to contact representatives at the national, state, and even county levels.
“There’s a lot that a county can do. There are easements. There are permits. There are land use restrictions. There are zoning in some places with special use permits,” Zeller said.
“They can take a resolution and say that we oppose pipeline coming through our county.”
BREDL will host a rally and information session Thursday in Nashville at the Oak Level Cafe. It starts at 11:30 with activists on site until 4. They will be at the Halifax County Agriculture Center on Friday from noon until 4.
Online comments may be submitted here.
The docket numbers are CP15-554-000, CP15-554-001, and CP15-555-001.