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NC Regulators Reject Natural Gas Pipeline Extension For Second Time

MVP Southgate
The MVP Southgate pipeline would be an extension of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The pipeline would carry fracked natural gas from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania into Virginia and North Carolina.

North Carolina regulators have again rejected plans to build the 75-mile Mountain Valley pipeline extension from Virginia into central North Carolina.

As proposed, the pipeline, called MVP Southgate, would carry fracked natural gas into Rockingham and Alamance counties, crossing streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water. It would also pass near Jordan Lake, which provides drinking water to 500,000 people.

Regulators first rejected the project outright, citing uncertainties with the main pipeline that the extension would connect to. But the builders appealed, and a court ordered the state to give a more detailed explanation for the rejection.

In a letter issued Thursday, the state's Department of Environmental Quality noted that the main project was facing a number of legal challenges, and if the main project were to fall through while the North Carolina extension was built, North Carolina would be left with "a pipeline from nowhere to nowhere, incapable of carrying any natural gas."

In a statement, builders of the pipeline said they had met every standard required for state approval and were "evaluating our options."

The decision was welcomed by Crystal Cavalier-Keck, who's been organizing opposition to the project.

"We took this as a small win, but we do know that we still need to continue to mobilize people," she said. "The public has to come out and speak out about this. They have to hold these politicians and these governments accountable, and let them know that public opinion is very important."

Cavalier-Keck is a citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, a North Carolina-recognized Native American tribe based in Alamance County.

She said she worries if the project moves forward, it could disrupt the state's rivers, streams, and wetlands, and said she believed the pipeline extension would cross some Native American burial sites.

Her group, 7 Directions of Service, was helping to organize a day of demonstration against the pipeline on Sunday.

The organization planned to have demonstrators walk, kayak, and bike along portions of the pipeline's proposed route throughout the day, followed by a rally and concert at Drapers Landing in Eden, North Carolina, at 3 p.m.

Cavalier-Keck said she hoped the demonstration would push politicians and other decision-makers in the state to reject the pipeline and move instead toward solar and wind energy.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal