Oil and gas pipelines planned or under construction around the country have drawn protests - from neighbors, environmentalists and Native American groups. Now it's North Carolina's turn.
Three protest walks are planned this weekend in Cumberland, Nash and Robeson counties by a group hoping to stop construction of the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The 600-mile pipeline would carry fracked natural gas from shale oil fields in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to power plants in Virginia and eastern North Carolina. Virginia-based Dominion Energy is building the pipeline, with three other large utilities: AGL Resources of Altanta, Duke Energy of Charlotte, and Piedmont Natural Gas of Charlotte, which recently merged with Duke.
The Alliance to Stop the Pipeline says the pipeline would cross Native American, African American, and low-income communities in eastern North Carolina, affecting water, climate, public health and land.
Walks are planned this Saturday at 9:30 a.m. beginning at Cape Fear Regional Theater in Fayetteville; 10 a.m. at Ennis Recreation Park in Red Oak, Nash County; and 1:30 p.m. at Pembroke Town Park, in Robeson County.
In a press release this week, the Alliance said: "Renewable energy and efficiency are more cost-effective than the expanded use of fracked gas, and that the gas exacerbates climate change through ongoing leaks and routine releases of methane at well sites and along pipelines."
Duke Energy says the pipeline is needed to help supply cheaper natural gas to its plants in North Carolina. The company has been shutting down older coal plants and replacing them with gas-fired units.
Duke said earlier in early November it expects federal regulators to approve the pipeline a year from now, with construction starting soon after. It could be open in the second half of 2019, the company said.