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Water flows downhill and along the path of least resistance. Money, on the other hand, seems to only rise like steam in a pipe — channeled upward.
That’s certainly the case with the fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The vast majority of the financial benefits go to the top of the polluting corporations building it, while we, their customers, are left paying for it. The pollution, sediment and health effects, though, all flow down onto the people and communities in the pipeline’s path, while Duke Energy and the pipeline’s builders get the product distilled from it.
That’s why last Saturday, residents from all over North Carolina and and I walked down Old Bailey Road in Nash County from Little Sapony Creek to Big Sapony Creek. We wanted to remind ourselves, our neighbors and our governor that our homes, schools, farms and drinking water are downstream of Duke’s planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
We chose this stretch of land because Gov. Roy Cooper’s family comes from an area called Elm Grove in Nash County — right between the Little Sapony Creek and the Big Sapony Creek. In fact, Cooper’s father pointed out how important this land was to him and the its people in his book “Between the Creeks: My Sapony Adventures,” saying he felt “privileged to live between the creeks with family, close friends, and with nature at its finest.”
Duke Energy likely chose this land because it’s largely rural, low-income and relatively powerless compared to its lobbying and campaign donations. In other words, they think this area is the path of least resistance.
Now Cooper is the person best positioned to protect the nature, people and land between those creeks. It’s disappointing to me and many others down east that he has not done more to stop Duke Energy from building its fracked gas pipeline through our land. Similar projects in other states have resulted in severe erosion, waterways choked with mud and even millions of gallons of drilling fluid getting spilled.
Of course, Duke Energy doesn’t care. They expect to make plenty of money off the pipeline and can afford to drink clean, pure, bottled water in their Charlotte headquarters. Down here, though, we need someone to fight for us, our land, and our water. Duke’s scheme uses eminent domain to take our land — mine included — pollute our water, and then charge us to pay for it through higher utility bills.
It used to be that the water one of us drank was the water that all of us drank. That’s why I invited Governor Cooper to walk with us — to remind him that the water we drink now is the water he drank as a boy.
I plan to send him a jar of water from Sapony Creek — hopefully it will sit on his desk as a reminder of where he came from and that we are all downstream of somewhere.