President Trump not only fast-tracked the approval of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines, but also the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is a multi-state natural gas pipeline that will originate in West Virginia and run south through Virginia to eastern North Carolina. The ACP is a joint project between Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. The natural gas, produced by fracking in West Virginia, will be transported to North Carolina and Virginia to serve the energy needs of public utilities for customers.
Here's what you need to know:
Currently the project is under federal review for a revised route that will avoid portions of the GWNF and MNF to protect habitats for endangered animal species. Leslie Hartz, vice president of pipeline construction at Dominion Energy, says Dominion and its partners believes the pipeline “can be built in an environmentally responsible way that protects the public safety and natural resources of our region.”
However, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) must identify issues and concerns that still need to be addressed in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). FERC is the lead agency that authorizes the construction and operation of interstate natural gas pipelines, but as a cooperating agency, the USFS will make a decision on authorizing the ACP on National Forest Service land.
At the moment, there are several anti-pipeline groups that have filed a motion with FERC to rescind or revise the draft impact statement. Environmental advocates are asking the public to take action. Here’s what you can do:
On December 10 2016, Fueling U.S. Forward and Reaching America partnered with the City of Richmond and Radio One to sponsor a toy drive and holiday concert at the Trinity Family Life Center in Richmond, Va. The event had several Grammy-level gospel recording artists such as VaShawn Mitchell and Charles Jenkins, and a panel discussion on the role energy plays in their everyday life, including the holidays.
At the end of the concert, four people were randomly picked to have their most recent electric bill paid up to $250.
The majority of attendees at this event were black. It was held at a black church, had black gospel artists and was advertised through Radio One, a network with a large black listener base.
Don't think for a moment that this was a coincidence.
The Koch brothers have come up with a new approach to advancing a fossil fuel agenda. They're using low-income and minority communities to promote coal, oil and natural gas.
For more than 30 years, Charles and David Koch have provided tens of millions of dollars to groups that deny climate change and derail science-based policies that would limit carbon emissions.
In the spring of 2016, Koch launched a new PR campaign – Fueling U.S. Forward – telling low-income families that oil and natural gas is the best way out of poverty. Fueling U.S. Forward is now a nonprofit organization “dedicated to educating the public about the value and potential of American energy.” It has a $10 million-a-year campaign budget that is funded by Koch Industries.
It's the same marketing tactics and argument used by tobacco lobbyists: stricter regulations on goods would disproportionately affect low-income areas.
This time, the argument is that wealthy individuals that subsidize electric vehicles and install solar panels on their homes contribute to rising gas prices. Somehow efforts to promote clean energy and build a green economy deprives taxpayers.
Fueling U.S. Forward has hosted events aimed at getting the support of black voters, including: presenting scholarships to local high school students at a Baptist church in North Carolina and sponsoring the National Political Convention, a conference hosted by the National Policy Alliance (NPA) – a network that brings together African-American political groups.
Linda Haithcox, NPA’s executive director, said their aim is to stand up for poor and underserved communities, and that NPA’s position on energy policy hasn't changed even though they received funding from Koch Industries and other energy groups.
Unfortunately, you cannot stand up for black communities while also taking money from companies that profit from poisoning the same people.
If the NPA and other black political groups want equitable access to clean energy sources for all consumers, then it must divest from companies that promote cheap and dirty energy. Poor people and communities of color pay the price with their health for the Koch brothers and other oil and petrochemical magnates to become wealthy. Utility and energy companies pollute the air we breathe and water we drink to keep the price of energy low.
The U.S. is still a fossil fuel-based economy, yet, families already struggle with transportation costs and paying their electric bill. What exactly do black communities have to gain by publicly supporting a fossil fuel agenda? Respiratory illnesses, cancer, heart disease, birth defects and high hospital bills?
Richmond continues to reign as one of the nation’s top asthma capitals, even taking the top spot in 2010, 2011 and 2014. Pollution, particulates and poverty are the biggest offenders.
The wealthiest people in the world have the biggest carbon footprint, but the poorest are the most vulnerable.
With a governor’s race underway this year, let’s prioritize the environmental injustices happening in our own backyards. Don’t be fooled by political leaders and energy companies that say they’re keeping energy prices low for us. They’re doing it for themselves to make a profit.
Congressional Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule aimed at preventing coal mining waste from being dumped in nearby streams. It was the first step for Republicans in dismantling Obama’s legacy on the environment and years of “excessive” government regulations.
The biggest argument for the joint resolution of disapproval was to save the jobs in the coal mining industry. As House Speaker Paul Ryan (R – WI) put it, “The stream protection rule is really just a thinly veiled attempt to wipe out coal mining jobs.”
Now the resolution is on its way to President Trump’s desk. This is a blow to environmentalists as the Congressional Review Act (CRA) prevents the executive branch from imposing similar rules by future administrations.
President Trump made coal a centerpiece of his campaign and promised to bring back coal mining jobs, but the truth is the coal industry is declining. Coal production in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest annual level of production since 1986 thanks to cheap natural gas and automation. China, formerly a major buyer of American coal, has also moved away from importing coal from the U.S.
Coal mining employs relatively few workers because it is highly mechanized. The government provides subsidies for renewable energy and has invested millions of dollars into fracking because natural gas is more abundant and cheaper than coal.
Additionally, air pollution and carbon emissions regulations has forced utility companies to ditch aging coal-fired power plants and switch to natural gas or green sources.
Arch Coal, Alpha Resources, Patriot Coal and Peabody Energy, the largest coal company in the U.S., all filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016 because of an industry downturn. Even if environmental regulations were relaxed under the Trump administration, coal still would not be a sustainable industry.
Killing the Stream Protection Rule will not revitalize the coal industry. So why did Republicans vote to repeal the rule?
The simple answer is because the regulation is an easy target. It’s a way of flexing their muscles and showing strength now that Obama has left the White House.
Unfortunately, communities that rely on coal for employment work in an industry that’s not sustainable. We know what happens after coal mines close because it’s been happening for years. McDowell, W.Va. used to be the coal capital of the country, but is now the poorest county in the state.
McDowell has an unemployment rate that is twice the national average and a population that has decreased 38 percent in the past 20 years. One-third of residents live in poverty, and more than half of the households in the county have incomes below $25,000.
If politicians really want to help areas that are reliant on coal, they should invest in diversifying regional economies by bringing in industries like tourism and healthcare. Workers can be retrained to get jobs in agriculture, solar panel installation and sustainable construction, and earn degrees in nursing and information technology.
Coal will not save American jobs. Innovation and retraining our workers in sustainable industries will keep Americans employed.
We just put the health of our communities at more risk to save a dying industry.
Environmental advocate. Communications professional. Sports fan. I love television and press conferences.