The Atlantic Coast Pipeline met more opposition last week. This time in the form of a prayer gathering by faith leaders outside the Department of Environmental Quality office. DEQ and the Cooper administration are currently considering a 401 water quality permit application that the pipeline must have before moving ahead with construction later this fall.
Susannah Tuttle, Director of NC Interfaith Power & Light, brought word to the assembly of a resolution adopted by the NC Council of Churches Governing Board condemning the construction of pipelines such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Council of Churches, a statewide ecumenical organization spanning eighteen different denominations, counts more than 1.5 million North Carolinians as members of its participating bodies.
Tuttle read from the resolution entitled “Statement Opposing Fracked Gas Pipelines”. The statement read in part, “We resolve that any new investment in energy infrastructure based on the extraction of fossil fuels is morally reprehensible and, as people of faith, we believe it is an abuse of the God-given gift of creation for which we are charged to care.”
Greg Yost, a pipeline opponent from Madison County, also spoke. Yost was on day nine of a two week, water-only fast, sitting each day in front of the DEQ entrance. Yost explained that his presence there is meant to signal that the Cooper administration’s pipeline decision is at root a spiritual issue. “During this period of waiting,” Yost said, “we are physically passive, but spiritually active. We are helping the Governor and [DEQ] Secretary Regan understand that bold leadership on their part will be met with support by North Carolinians across the state, no matter what [pipeline developer] Duke Energy may want.”
The Reverend Mac Legerton, a United Church of Christ minister from Robeson County, facilitated the service. Legerton, who still works daily to help his community recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, opened a time of prayer for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Legerton brought with him a native flowering plant that he says will now be passed from county to county in eastern North Carolina to be watered by rivers, creeks, and wetlands that the proposed pipeline would cross. The flower will then be returned to DEQ and offered as a living sign of the importance of its duty to see that North Carolina’s water resources are protected.
On Friday, September 15th DEQ announced a decision will be delayed – likely until mid-December – on whether to permit the controversial project.
Without fanfare or press release late yesterday, the state issued a four-page “request for additional information,” part of its duty under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure the natural gas pipeline won’t harm the over 320 rivers and streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands in its path.
We must continue our prayers that this pipeline will be permanently rejected by the strong leaders of North Carolina. Blessed Be!