Opponents pan pipeline project


Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NASHVILLE — Opponents of a planned interstate natural gas pipeline through Nash County asked county commissioners to denounce the project during their meeting Monday while pipeline builders have launched a public relations campaign with support of local leaders eager for job growth.

Jane Flowers Finch, a Raleigh lawyer with family in Wilson County, spoke during the meeting’s public comment section for nearly 10 minutes. Citing environmental and property rights concerns, Finch begged commissioners to sign a resolution against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“There's been a lot of lying,” Finch said. “You can't keep looking the other way. It's time for the Nash County commissioners to take a stand against the pipeline.”

Marvin Winstead, a local farmer and president of Nash County Stop the Pipeline, appeared for the third monthly meeting, asking the board to join in opposition of the pipeline.

“If you care about the people of Nash County, you will sign a resolution against the pipeline,” Winstead said.

Commissioners didn't respond to Finch and Winstead and didn't discuss the pipeline during the remainder of the meeting.

Duke Progress Energy spokeswoman Tammy McGee said momentum continues to build for approval of the pipeline in North Carolina. To help ease it along, the EnergySure Coalition is highlighting local stories about the significant economic benefits the utility infrastructure will bring to the state.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is essential to our future success and to the well-being of the citizens we serve,” said Norris Tolson, CEO of Carolinas Gateway Partnership. “If we cannot get adequate supplies of natural gas, our economic development efforts will be less fruitful and we will not be able to contribute to a better quality of life for this generation and generations to come.”

North Carolina has one of the fastest growing populations and economies in the nation. Given this growth, the demand for natural gas to generate power in the state is projected to more than double over the next 20 years. In addition, Duke Energy has retired half its fleet of coal plants in the state and will replace that generation with clean, low-cost, more efficient natural gas, McGee said.

Today, North Carolina is supplied by only one natural gas line. The existing pipeline infrastructure is nearly fully tapped and unable to meet future energy needs, said Cathy Scott, executive director of the Halifax County Economic Development Commission.

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is critical to meet the energy needs of our rapidly growing state and economy,” Scott said. “This project will help deliver cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy to families like mine, while empowering Eastern North Carolina to attract thousands of jobs, particularly to small, rural communities that desperately need them.”

The construction and operation of the pipeline will attract the kind of businesses and industries that can create thousands of jobs in Eastern North Carolina. The pipeline will also provide millions of dollars in annual property tax revenues to help revenue-starved counties along its route fund schools, hospitals, emergency responders and other essential community services, McGee said.

The pro-pipeline campaign will feature television, radio, print and website advertising, along with messages on social media, according to EnergySure North Carolina, a group of businesses, organizations and individuals supporting reliable energy in the state.