Nash stays neutral on pipeline


Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

NASHVILLE — The Nash County Board of Commissioners will remain neutral in the fight between a handful of landowners and the corporate builders of an interstate natural gas pipeline through Nash County but are likely to approve three regulatory permits, board Chairman Robbie Davis announced Monday.

The board has been repeatedly urged to pass a resolution against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by vocal opponent Jane Finch, a Raleigh lawyer whose family owns property in southern Nash County.

“Failure to act is support,” Finch told commissioners during public comment session at Monday's meeting.

Finch was joined by Nash Stop the Pipeline President Marvin Winstead and another Nash County landowner who lives at the beach.

Davis said the board doesn't usually immediately respond to public comments, but in the three months since pipeline opponents began speaking at meetings their rhetoric has evolved from asking the commissioners to remain neutral to insisting they act in their favor.

“We're taking a position not to take a position,” Davis said, adding that he expects the board will soon approve flood, stormwater and zoning permits for the project.

Davis said he's attended several meetings about the pipeline in four counties, and the project has a lot of supporters.

“There's a lot of passion on both sides,” Davis said, adding that several residents have signed agreements with the pipeline builders. They're happy with the money they've received.

Davis said the county won't pass a resolution because it should be up to property owners whether they want to sell access rights.

“The decision is best made by each individual landowner,” Davis said.

Finch wanted to speak again, but Davis told her public comments were over and she would have to come back to the next meeting.

During her comments Finch accused Carolinas Gateway Partnership CEO Norris Tolson of being dishonest about the local economic benefits of the pipeline. Finch said there were no taps on the pipeline in North Carolina.

“Jane Finch is deliberately misinforming you,” Dominion Energy spokesman Aaron Ruby told the Telegram after the meeting.

The pipeline has taps in Johnston, Cumberland and Robeson counties, according to the pipeline's original permit application filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September 2015.

“That’s where Piedmont, Duke and Public Service Company of North Carolina will receive daily deliveries of gas from the ACP,” Ruby said. “Duke will use the gas to fuel its new fleet of natural gas power plants. Piedmont and PSNC will feed the gas into their distribution pipelines to serve residential, commercial and industrial customers across Eastern North Carolina.”

Tolson told the Telegram that he's negotiating with three companies that won't locate in the Twin Counties without access to natural gas.

“The pipeline means real jobs for real people,” Tolson said.