Oxendine, N.C. – Local and national groups today joined in a community-wide protest against the proposed Piedmont Natural Gas (PNG) facility. The facility, which is part of the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline, brought together groups from across the state to rally against one of the most controversial pieces of infrastructure along the pipeline route.
Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. (PNG), a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke Energy Corporation, recently withdrew a clean air permit application from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Protesters worry that the company is attempting to avoid a more stringent permitting process.
“It is not surprising that PNG would try and expedite the permitting process for this LNG facility.” said Donna Chavis, Friends of the Earth Senior Fossil Fuels Campaigner. “We are convinced that this facility is unnecessary and would be denied if a thorough review is allowed to take place. Its proposed location in one of the oldest American Indian communities in North Carolina. When you add a historic elementary school, two churches, a daycare and the majority African American town of Maxton to the mix, the threats to community multiply.”
Since announced, the PNG facility has generated strong opposition from local communities worried about the environment. Further, concerns over why Wakulla, which is a predominantly American Indian (Lumbee and Tuscarora) community, have fed into worries that the company targeted Wakulla because of the community’s demographics. The chosen location has the fourth largest American Indian population of any U.S. Census Tract (and largest in eastern US).
“The proposed LNG facility will place the people of Maxton and the surrounding area in great danger of a major explosion and pollution,” said Sallie McLean, former Mayor of Maxton and member of Concerned Citizens of Maxton. “Natural gas is not clean. It is a dirty industry that will only draw more dirty industry and very few permanent jobs. Our county is being targeted by utility companies and the fossil fuel industry because we are poor, rural, racially diverse, with low education and health conditions and vulnerable to the pressures of powerful, outside interests. We need to rebuild our rural economy from the inside out, not from the outside in.”
“We need industry in Robeson County that doesn’t cause harm to our people and the places we live,” Said Rev. Mac Legerton, co-director of the Southeast NC Climate, Disaster, and Justice Ministry stated: The LNG plant and the methane gas pipelines and other gas infrastructure being planned for our county is all dirty, polluting industry. They create very few permanent jobs. Finally, methane gas is now the main contributor to global warming and massive hurricanes and drought like we are experiencing. If all this development occurs, our county will never be clean and green.”
“Piedmont Natural Gas wants to build the Robeson Liquefied Natural Gas facility to store more than 7 billion gallons of flammable, volatile, explosive fossil fuels in our backyard,” said Jefferson Currie II, Lumber Riverkeeper. “PNG has been cleaning up tons of hazardous waste at their Huntersville LNG for ten years and the ground water around that site is still contaminated with pollutants. Even though PNG’s track record of polluting our drinking water and our communities is known, with the proposed Robeson LNG, they are looking to bypass the regulations again. This proposed plant will be virtually an unpermitted and unregulated facility in an area that is around 90 percent Native American, and will be built without tribal consultation or a state public meeting so that the community can voice their concerns. The Robeson LNG facility should not be allowed to pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities where we live.”