Voices of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Protest

Posted March 22, 2017

MP3 Excerpts of rally speeches by anti-pipeline activists Ericka Faircloth, Valerie Williams and Marvin Winstead, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus


A group of anti-pipeline activists just completed a 15-day, 200-mile walk across the North Carolina portion of the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline, which would also traverse West Virginia and Virginia, bringing more fracked natural gas through these three states. It’s a project of Duke Energy and Dominion Resources, which the companies say will increase the gas supply in the mid-Atlantic region; however, opponents have reasons to believe the gas will be exported.

Anti-pipeline activists are concerned about threats to their air and water, to their property seized through eminent domain, and to the increased risk of irreversible climate impacts. That’s because the gas, which is composed of methane, contributes 100 times more warming to the atmosphere than an equal amount of carbon dioxide in the first decade after release.

The Alliance to Protect Our People and the Places We Live, launched its 200-mile walk with a rally on the Virginia border on March 4. Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus was there and brings us excerpts from three speakers, beginning with Ericka Faircloth, who identifies as a member of the 55,000-strong Lumbee Tribe, followed by local property owner Valerie Williams and Marvin Winstead.

For more information on the proposed pipeline and the walk to stop it, visit The North Carolina Alliance to Protect Our People And The Places We Live (APPPL) website at 2017acpwalk.org and on Facebook at Facebook.com/2017acpwalk.

ERICKA FAIRCLOTH: Good morning everyone. My name is Ericka and I was given permission to be here today to give a statement on behalf of the Coalition of Woodland Nations. The Coalition of Woodland Nations is asking all American Indian tribes and organization in the U.S. and all indigenous people of the world to support our stand against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We are requesting proclamations, resolutions and letters of support for the Coalition of Woodland Nations and in opposition to the ACP. The Coalition of Woodland Indians was formed to unite all native people in the protection of our environment, our traditions, our sacred sites and areas of cultural and historical significance. The proposed ACP is a 42- inch natural gas pipeline which will carve an 8- to 12-foot deep trench and a 125-foot construction corridor through the Allegheny Highlands, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the foothills and piedmont of Virginia and on into the coastal plains and swamps of eastern North Carolina.

This pipeline will directly affect the traditional lands of several tribes including the Monacan, Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Nansemond, Nottoway, Occaneechi, Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Tuscarora, Coharie, and Lumbee.

This pipeline threatens sacred sites of the Monacan Tribe in Virginia and the Tuscarora and Waccamaw peoples of North Carolina. Other undocumented sacred sites are also being threatened. The terminus is in Robeson County, North Carolina, home of the Lumbee Tribe and one of the densest populations of American Indians on the East Coast. Thank you for your support and No Atlantic Coast pipeline! Thank you.

BETWEEN THE LINES: That was Ericka Faircloth who lives along the pipeline route. Another speaker was local property owner Valerie Williams.

VALERIE WILLIAMS: We cannot separate – it's like the blood that runs through your veins – you can’t separate that blood running through your veins, so we can’t separate our ties to our farm, because that’s how dear it is to us. And for anybody who think any different, unless they don’t have those ties, I don’t understand how they could feel otherwise. But anyway, so I’m fighting this pipeline because I don’t like what eminent domain is doing to our world today. I think enough has happened already and that we need to conserve and preserve and protect some parts of our country. There are too many pipelines in too many places, and it’s time to say "no" to these pipelines and "yes" to keeping our land, keeping our farmland, and doing what we deserve to do with our properties.

BETWEEN THE LINES: That was local resident Valerie Williams. Marvin Winstead is a local farmer whose 70-acre property would be bisected by the proposed pipeline. He mentions FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the body in charge of evaluating interstate gas pipeline proposals.

MARVIN WINSTEAD: Most of our members are senior citizens; in fact, a few are in the process of making the transition of their estates to the next generation. And one reason they have joined our group and attended our meetings is that this pipeline is causing so much disruption in what they’re planning to do. And I wore a little button here that says Eminent Domain Abuse. That’s one of the big factors of what this pipeline is these companies – these corporate bullies with their slick-polished presentations – and this is not their first rodeo; they’ve done this in other parts of the country. It’s well-rehearsed for them. But that’s what’s going on. They are convincing the public – I’ve got in my briefcase over there a newspaper article from a local paper. Our congressmen and senators have endorsed this. They have neglected, ignored, turned their backs on, their constituents. They are in league with the companies. I’m so delighted to see so many people here today.

I hope you can help us get this message out to the public. A lot of my neighbors say, "I’m sorry it’s crossing your property, but it’s not in mine, it’s not in my backyard, so it’s not so much my problem." What they don’t realize is, it is in their backyard. It may not literally be in their backyard today, but if this pipeline is built, it will be in their mailbox when they get their utility bill. They don’t realize that this company will be able to build this project, approach the state utility commission, or FERC, and get rate increases to pay for it. Figure out 14 percent of $5 billion, and that’s what they stand to gain, to say nothing of the 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day that they move through it. It’s really hard for us. We’re small groups with limited resources and these are big multinational companies that have got the financial resources and got their PR people to help get their message out. So, if you could help us get our message out to the public: Yes, it’s a finite number of people who are directly impacted, but the general public at large is impacted as well. If you can help us get that message out, maybe we can achieve our goal of stopping this pipeline. Thank you so much for being here today.

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