Environment, Trump Administration

DEQ hosts more public listening sessions on Atlantic Coast Pipeline; new FERC members bode ill for opponents

Hundreds of people turned out in Rocky Mount to comment on the water quality and riparian buffer impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Another listening session is scheduled for next week in Rocky Mount, as well as in Jackson and Lumberton.(Photo: Lisa Sorg)

If you missed the recent public hearings on the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, you have three more chances to speak your mind before state environmental officials.

The NC Department of Environmental Quality is holding additional public listening sessions about the project, which will cross parts of eight eastern North Carolina counties, including low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 15: Nash Community College, 522 N. Old Carriage Road., Rocky Mount
  • Wednesday, Aug. 16: Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center, 9536 NC. Hwy. 305, Jackson.
  • Thursday, Aug. 17: Southeastern Agricultural Center, 1027 US Hwy. 74, Lumberton.

Speaker registration and sign-in for all three listening sessions will start at 5:30 p.m. The listening sessions will begin at 6 p.m.

After two public hearings in July, DEQ is still accepting written comments on water quality and riparian buffer rules for the ACP through Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. Via snail mail, send them to 401 Permitting, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC. 27699-1617. Written comments may also be submitted by email to PublicComments@ncdenr.gov. Please be sure to include “ACP” in the email’s subject line.

The comments will be forwarded to FERC, which has final approval of the pipeline. Until earlier this month, FERC did not have a quorum under the Trump administration, meaning the commission could not issue decisions on any projects. But as of Aug. 3, the US Senate confirmed Trump nominees Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to FERC, filling two of three vacancies. These appointments don’t bode well for pipeline opponents. Chatterjee previously served as energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In that position, Chatterjee helped push for Senate approval of the Keystone and was among congressional officials who opposed US participation in the Paris Agreement.

Powelson worked as a commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. He  supports both fracking and natural gas pipelines. Before  a group of industry representatives, he compared opposition to what he views as a term for war. “The jihad has begun,” StateImpact Pennsylvania quoted Powelson as saying. “At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission groups actually show up at commissioners homes to make sure we don’t get this gas to market. How irresponsible is that?”

New to the pipeline discussion?

NCPW has reported on the potential damage to the environment and to underserved communities.

FERC released a draft environmental impact statement and a final version, both of which were incomplete — even at 1,000-plus pages — and omitted or downplayed many key issues.

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