Economic development and plummeting property values were passionately discussed Monday night during a public meeting with representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which could oversee the proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would cut through portions of North Carolina.
Supporters — including county commissioners and local government officials — said the pipeline could bring job opportunities to the state’s counties most in need.
But opponents argued it would destroy their property values and likely wouldn’t bring the jobs people have touted.
“My husband and I worked hard for this property and now it’s being taken away from us,” said Darlene Bain, whose property would include a portion of the pipeline.
Bain was one of 14 speakers in the audience of about 100 to participate in the commission’s first Public Scoping Meeting.
The commission has scheduled two more meetings in North Carolina this week before moving on to West Virginia and Virginia.
The $5 billion natural gas pipeline is a joint venture of Dominion, Piedmont, Duke Energy and AGL Resources.
Almost all of the pipeline, which will stretch 550 miles from West Virginia to just outside Lumberton, will be underground, once it crosses into North Carolina.
The 36-inch high-pressure transmission line will roughly parallel Interstate 95 in eastern Cumberland County.
The pipeline is proposed to cut through Cedar Creek industrial park.
Kevin Bowman, environmental protection specialist and project manager, and Jeff Mackenthun, a contractor, represented the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The men facilitated the meeting and took notes during public comments, but neither responded to questions.
Bowman said comments will be accepted through April 28.
People gathered outside the lobby of the auditorium at Pine Forest High School to examine maps of the proposed pipeline before the meeting began.
Clifford Bastien, whose property would be affected by the pipeline, said he wanted to wash his hands of his property.
Duke Energy and Piedmont already have easements on his property, he said. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would render his property useless, he said.
Bastien argued that he should be allowed to sell his property to the energy companies.
“I do not want for them to put the pipe on my property and walk away,” he said.
Speakers in support of the project cited job creation and economic growth.
Linwood Parker, mayor of Four Oaks in Johnston County, said the pipeline is important to the people of eastern North Carolina.
“We need jobs and good payin’ jobs,” he said. “I like to think I’m speaking to people that don’t have a job. I like to think I’m speaking to children who didn’t have food when they went to school because their family didn’t have it.”
Johnston County Commissioner Chad M. Stewart said two of his farm properties would be affected by the pipeline, but he still supports the project.
“It is essential to economic growth in my region,” he said. “I will give up my land for it. Natural gas is the future. We need it. We’re all gonna have to sacrifice a little bit.”
This article was written by Amanda Dolasinski from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.