Hot Topics

Cape Fear River (193)

This page presents information about new and important developments that impact the Cape Fear River and its watershed.  Additional topics will be added to this page as they come up.  Some are about controversial issues (e.g., GenX in the Cape Fear River); while others are inspirational examples (e.g., the Jordan Lake One Water Association).

For each topic, links to a wide variety of credible websites are provided for additional information.  In most cases, the links will be to mass media sites.  Where available multiple links will be provided.  For others only one source will be given if that is all that is available.   The following table of contents lists the topics in the order that they are presented on this webpage:

  •       GenX in the Cape Fear River

  • Jordan Lake One Water Association

  • Future of the Cape Fear River

  • Atlantic Coast Pipeline

If there are other Hot Topics you would like to see included, please let us know by completing the form at the end of this webpage.

 

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GenX in the Cape Fear River

An unregulated chemical compound (GenX) is one of the most serious and complex issues facing the Cape Fear River between Fayetteville and Wilmington.  As a result there has been a lot of media coverage.  Here we present some of the most significant articles that cover a wide range of issues.

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 Photograph of Treated Wastewater flowing from an outfall pipe from the
Chemours plant into the Cape Fear River.  (Source: WRAL news – See Below)

The following article does an excellent job of laying out a detailed timeline about the history of GenX in the Cape Fear River  The first article in 1971 said “Commercial production begins at the Fayetteville Works plant, built by chemical company DuPont. The plant is located about 15 miles south of Fayetteville on the border of Cumberland and Bladen counties. It sits along the Cape Fear River, the primary source of drinking water for Brunswick, Bladen, New Hanover and Pender counties.” The most recent article (Nov. 30, 2017) saidThe partial suspension of Chemours’ permit regulating the wastewater released in the areas where the company produces GenX and other fluorinated compounds takes effect.” There are dozens of points in time between these two dates. Timeline: Tracking the route of GenX in the Cape Fear River. by WRAL November 22, 2017 (Includes 47:11 Video of Governor Cooper’s Press Conference on July 27, 2018).

“One of about 85,000 chemicals registered in the United States are not tested for in drinking water. One of them is GenX, a man-made compound that manufacturing facilities have discharged into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River for decades. In the second of a two-part series, NewsHour Weekend visits the area, where residents are asking questions about the chemical’s health effects.”  How an unregulated chemical entered a North Carolina community’s drinking water. Dec 17, 2017 PBS News Hours. (Includes 10:30 Video)

 

Chemours Aerial View Wilmington Star News

Photo from Wilmington Star News

“Some 60,000 Wilmington, N.C., residents get their drinking water from the Cape Fear River.  DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours manufacture chemicals at a plant upstream from the city.  The plant is situated on a 2,100-acre property on the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville. It is there where a chemical called GenX — a potentially cancer-causing substance that is a byproduct of DuPont and Chemours’ manufacturing processes — is produced.” N.C. drinking water tainted with chemical byproduct for decades?  CBS News June 26, 2017 (Includes 5:16 Video).

“GenX, which has sparked concern and outrage among Wilmington-area residents since word surfaced last month that elevated levels of the chemical were found in the Cape Fear River, may be the least of people’s worries, a North Carolina State University scientist said Friday. “GenX is only a small fraction of the total level of fluorochemicals that we have found in the river, and the other levels are some times 50 to 100 times higher,” said Detlef Knappe, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at N.C. State and one of the state’s top researchers for Gen X and other contaminants in drinking water.   NCSU scientist: GenX not only toxic chemical in Cape Fear River, July 28, 2017 by WRAL News (Includes 2:49 video)

genx investigation - cbs News

Photo from CBS News

“North Carolina finds itself trying to assess the risk from an industrial chemical few knew lurked in waters feeding municipal drinking water plants… GenX is an excellent example of a compound that few experts expected to find in public waterways until they did.”  Another Unwelcome Contaminant in the Cape Fear River,  J by North Carolina Health News.

“Brockovich has been involved in the GenX issues from afar, but now she is in Wilmington to see the problem at hand, first hand. ‘We as people have gotten very comfortable and compliant that we just turn on the tap and you’re going to have good water’,” Brockovich said.  Erin Brockovich stays busy with GenX while visiting Wilmington, August 17, 2017 by WWAY News (Includes 1:51 Video.)

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Photo from Fayetteville Observor

“Chemours and state regulators have reached an agreement to end discharge of GenX and two other chemical Substances from its Fayetteville works plant into the Cape Fear River.  Along with no new discharges, company will turn over confidential business information to state regulators.”  NC, Chemours strike deal on toxic GenX, September 11, 2017 by Wilmington Star News.

“The state Department of Environmental Quality has cited Chemours for failing to report a spill of a GenX precursor into the Cape Fear River last month, raising the possibility of fining the company for the first time since scientists discovered the unregulated compound in drinking water late last year.  DEQ issued a notice of violation to demand details about the size and duration of an Oct. 6 spill of dimer acid fluoride – which effectively breaks down in water into the equivalent of GenX – at the company’s Fayetteville Works facility in Bladen County. GenX is a poorly studied and unregulated contaminant in a family of chemicals linked to cancer and other negative health effects.” NC regulators cite Chemours over unreported spill. November 14, 2017. WRAL News

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Photo from WHQR

“For people who work to protect the environment, the chemical’s presence in the water highlights what’s wrong with the regulatory process.,, The state of America’s water has been at issue for years. GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River is a small part of a bigger story about the degradation of the country’s drinking water and a regulatory system that can’t address it.” Toxic GenX: The ‘canary in the coal mine’ by Wilmington Star News.

“Chemours did not report a spill that resulted in a GenX spike in the Cape Fear River until approached by regulators, according to a N.C. Department of Environmental Quality news release.  DEQ said Thursday it will take additional enforcement actions against Chemours as a result of the spill, which was identified after Environmental Protection Agency tests from early October showed a significant spike in the concentrations of GenX found in the river.”  Chemours’ spill in October results in more GenX in Cape Fear River. November 9, 2017 by Fayetteville Observer.

Protestors - Starnews online

 Photo from Wilmington Star News

“Just over halfway through 2017, the number of protest notices filed with the Wilmington Police Department is nearly double those seen in the entirety of 2016.  Since Jan. 1, WPD has received at least 36 notice of intent to picket forms, up significantly from the 22 in 2016. The organizations filing the notices stick closely to political causes, from the Women Organizing for Wilmington!, who gather weekly on a variety of issues, to groups speaking out specifically against GenX, to advocacy for the preservation of the planet.”  Protesting is up in Wilmington thanks to politics, GenX, August 14, 2017. Wilmongton Star News

Information about GenX and the most recent news articles are compiled by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) CFPUA is the utility that provides drinking water to all the businesses and residential customers in the Wilmington area.  Their website is an excellent source of up-to-date and accurate information collected from a wide variety of sources.

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Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) service area From CFPUA.
Areas shaded in blue receive water from the Cape Fear River

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Jordan Lake One Water Association

The Jordan Lake watershed is a massive regional resource utilized by 10 counties, 27 municipalities, and nearly 700,000 water customers (see Figure below), and is continuing to be more populous every day. As challenges with water quality and water supply increase with growing populations, the need for water resources dialogue that crosses jurisdictional lines becomes more and more imperative. This type of cooperation is intuitive and simple in concept, but can be very challenging and complex in implementation.

The Jordan Lake One Water Association (JLOWA) is a new collaborative entity, administered by TJCOG and supported by diverse stakeholders from Greensboro to Raleigh, that seeks to facilitate cooperation and holistic resource management in the Jordan Lake watershed. The Association is comprised of local governments, conservation groups, universities, water utilities, agriculture, and private industry stakeholders interested in sharing the cost of water quality and quantity improvements in order to realize watershed-wide social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Jordan Lake Watershed

Map from Triangle J Council of Governments

The One-Water concept is well developed and used by a number of groups from around the country and beyond.  Several professional associations have excellent websites.  Publication and other learning tools are available.  These are listed below (Click on the name of the organization to go right to their website.)

US Water Alliance

The US Water Alliance is the hub for the one water movement, and their web site is a gateway to connect with resources and one water leaders. Check out their website for resources and offerings to help shape your community’s one water future. The US Water Alliance recently developed a publication of One Water Roadmap: The Sustainable Management of Life’s Most Essential Resource, a detailed guide for how to tackle our nation’s most pressing water challenges.  This report makes a compelling case for the One Water approach—we highlight successful strategies and powerful real-world examples of One Water management in practice. The roadmap highlights the bold approaches that water utilities, businesses, agricultural groups, and municipalities, are implementing to build a secure water future for all. The roadmap is organized around six arenas for action where we are making progress: Reliable and Resilient Utilities, Thriving Cities, Competitive Business and Industry, Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Social and Economic Inclusion, and Healthy Waterways.  An Executive Summary is also available by clicking here.

One Water Approach - US Water Alliance

Graphic from US Water Alliance

Water Resource Foundation

Since the Water Research Foundation’s founding in 1966, we have funded more than 1,500 drinking water-related projects valued at over $500 million. Additionally, over 20 years ago, WRF began addressing the broadening research needs of our subscribers and the water sector as a whole. Over that time WRF has sponsored over 180 projects, valued at more than $69 million, on wastewater, reuse, desalination, and stormwater.  In 2013, WRF’s Board of Utility Leaders developed a strategic plan to ensure that WRF’s research agenda effectively addressed all areas of One Water, and in 2016, this enhanced focus can be seen through projects addressing the needs of the entire water community.  Their website includes an informative and interesting video about the One Water concept.  It also includes  examples from the more than 40 projects that WRF funded in 2016, demonstrating WRF’s commitment to address needs relating to drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and reuse.

oneWaterImages from Water Foundation

Graphic from Water Resource Alliance

One Water, One Future

What is “one water”? Our planet has a finite amount of available fresh water. Water is an essential resource that moves through a cycle of use and reuse in watersheds around the world. Wherever it is in this cycle, water has value. The one water approach views all water – drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, greywater and more – as resources that must be managed holistically and sustainably.  At the same time, water is life. It sustains us. It grows our food and makes our economies flow. Looking ahead, we see a future where all water is valued. By uniting diverse interests on a variety of water issues, from aging infrastructure to drought and flooding, we can secure a sustainable water future, now and for future generations. This is the One Water, One Future movement.

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Photo from ‘One Water’: Concept for the future

‘One Water’: Concept for the future?

One Water is a collaborative project at the University of Miami aimed at engaging the media to bring awareness to the global water challenge. This project is made possible by major funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and enables journalists, communities and media makers from around the world to address the world’s water challenge from their unique perspectives allowing local voices to join the global conversation about water. One Water has created an international network of journalists and media makers with the purpose of generating the most compelling journalism relating to water, human life and the environment.

The challenges facing the planet with regard to the provisioning of safe potable water are many. Filmed in 15 countries, the movie One Water highlights a world where water is exquisitely abundant in some places and dangerously lacking in others. It celebrates the ways water has touched human lives around the globe and leaves audiences with a fundamental question, is water a human right or a commodity? Through a starkly emotional journey, spectators are invited to witness and are encouraged to recognize this global crisis as their very own as watching scenes from all over the world reveal how water is inspiring innovation, compassion and hope. The film began as a non-verbal visual story that allowed audiences all over the world to understand its visual message without the hindrance of a language barrier. Over time, One Water has evolved, and screenings now include along with the non-verbal film, a feature film narrated by Donna E. Shalala, and a television version narrated by Martin Sheen which debuted on Planet Green.  Click here to check out the three versions of their excellent video.

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Photo from ‘One Water’: Concept for the future

The Jordan Lake One Water Association (JLOWA) builds on and applies the information found on these websites. The JLOWA group will be focusing on determining the mission, objectives, and structure of the group over the coming months. Meetings will involve advancing conversations about integrated water management, the state of the legislative environment, and the future of our watersheds in order to foster more integrated and innovative approaches to tackling issues associated with growing regional populations in the Jordan Lake Watershed.

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Photograph of Jordan Lake Dam by Jen Schmitz

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Cape Fear River (51)

Future of the Cape Fear River

This is the title of an article published in the Wilmington Star on December 31, 2017.  Here, local leaders talk about what they think the Cape Fear region will look like in 150 years.  Asking today’s community leaders what they think the region will look like in 150 years gets you a host of answers. But most agree that the region certainly will feature more people calling Southeastern North Carolina home.

“Asking today’s community leaders what they think the region will look like in 150 years gets you a host of answers. But most agree that the region certainly will feature more people calling Southeastern North Carolina home,,, Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners said ‘much has changed since 1867, so in 2167 there likely will be marvels we can’t imagine today… White said he believes many of things that make the region so attractive now, like beaches and good weather, will keep it attractive in the future.”

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chesapeakeclimate.org

Photo from Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Imagine selecting the supermarket’s finest-quality produce, filling your buggy to the brim, skipping the checkout line and flinging a fistful of change at the cashier on your way out the door.  Don’t give this a try — you’ll promptly be arrested on larceny charges. Theft is theft, and imitating payment by scattering pennies is no substitute for ringing up those heirloom tomatoes.  Yet conduct that would be criminal for a consumer is perfectly legal for corporations, which use eminent domain powers to snatch people’s land out from under them, then pay a price of their choosing for the purloined property.  Unless deals are struck with about 60 landowners, private developers will resort to eminent domain in order to stitch together a Wilson County corridor for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Our Opinion: Pipeline land grab sets stage for limit on eminent domain.  June 27, 2017, The Wilson Times

wfae.org

Photo from WFAE

Opponents of a natural gas pipeline told state officials Tuesday that it will harm the environment and is not needed, but supporters said the pipeline is safe and will create jobs.  The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing at Fayetteville Technical Community on a water quality certification application for the proposed pipeline. Opponents said the state should rely more on renewable energy such solar and wind power.  Supporters said the pipeline will provide a clean source of power that will lower the cost of energy. Pipeline opponents outnumber supporters at public hearing.  July 18, 2017, The Fayetteville Observer

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WPA Network for Media Action

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is hosting a public hearing on a water quality certification application for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Fayetteville Technical Community College.  The proposed 600-mile pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina will end in Robeson County. The route goes through eastern Cumberland County and the northeast corner of Sampson County. …Here are five key things to know about the project ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.  Here are five thigs  1. What’s on the hearing agenda? 2. What do supporters say? 3. What do opponents say? 4. When could it be built? 5. How can I weigh in? Atlantic Coast Pipeline hearing: 5 things to know.  Jul 18, 2017.  The Fayetteville Observer

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Photo from Appalachian Mountain Advocates

The state Department of Environmental Quality sent a letter Thursday to the company that wants to build the pipeline asking for more information. The department is reviewing the company’s application for a water quality certification. Jeff Poupart, water quality section chief for the department’s Division of Water Resources, sent the letter to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which was formed by the three companies that want to build the pipeline. … Poupart said in his letter that the state needs more information about how the pipeline would cross streams, how water quality would be protected, the parameters for testing drinking water from wells, the location and rate of test water discharge, erosion control from construction, and the cumulative impact of the pipeline. The letter says that any work done before the permit is issued may be a violation of state law and regulations. State delays decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit.  September 15, 2017.  The Fayetteville Observer

poweredbyfact.org

Photo from Powered by Fact

Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has rejected story as rejected environmental plans by Duke Energy and three other energy companies to build an interstate pipeline to carry natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina.  The letter of disapproval from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is the first decision on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline from any state or federal government agency in the three states the project would traverse. Duke Energy is also expecting a decision this month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as to whether the $5 billion pipeline project is necessary.  The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said the 600-mile underground pipeline, which would travel through eight North Carolina counties, including Johnston and Nash, does not meet the state’s standards for erosion and sediment control.  N.C. says ‘no’ to 3-state natural gas pipeline.  October 10, 2017. The Fayetteville Observer

ncsea,org

If you look closely, you can see the signs scattered throughout Nash County, poking out from sprawling fields and sun-scorched patches of grass. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bright yellow with just one word: DANGER. Others are square and white with a circle and a slash. All of them have the same message, peppering a sleepy, rural stretch of land with a small yelp of protest: No Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. Across the state, however, a dedicated base of opponents has mobilized, from Asheville to Fayetteville. They worry that the pipeline will cause irreparable environmental damage, lead to rising utility costs, and disproportionately affect poor and minority communities.  In North Carolina alone, they point out, about thirty thousand Native Americans live along the proposed route.  Duke Energy Wants to Build a $5 Billion Pipeline Through Eastern North Carolina. They’ll Have to Go Through Marvin Winstead First. October 11, 2017. Indy Week.

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Photo from Indy Week

Since the project’s introduction, it’s been controversial. In North Carolina alone, it would cross more than 320 waterways and directly pass through the properties of about a thousand landowners. Opponents say it will cause irreparable environmental damage and disproportionately affect poor and minority communities; supporters point to potential job gains and the return of infrastructure to economically distressed parts of the state.  On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission took a decisive step in moving the project forward by granting the necessary federal approval for the pipeline. The decision was widely expected by critics, who say the agency routinely gives its blessing to infrastructure projects. FERC Approves Atlantic Coast Pipeline, But N.C. DEQ Can Stop it in its Tracks. Oct 17, 2017, INDY Week

wilsontimes.org

Photo from Wilson Times

An alliance of 21 local and state interest groups has begun an appeal process asking federal authorities to suspend approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  N.C. WARN, an opponent of the proposed $5 billion project to bring natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina, said in a release Monday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “cut corners, ignored environmental justice and climate destruction and usurped state authority in approving construction.” … The group contends FERC’s approval of the pipeline plans constitute an injustice toward African-American, Native American and low-income communities.  The agency’s “analysis of minority populations is remarkable in its contorted logic used to minimize the relative impact on people of color … In fact, in comparing the current ACP corridor to earlier proposed ACP routes, it is clear that the pipeline has been moved to areas of greater poverty and more people of color,” Runkle wrote. Groups appeal Atlantic Coast Pipeline approval.  November 15, 2017.  The Wilson Times.

sieraclib.org

Photo from Sierra Club

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is preparing to sue uncooperative property owners to gain access to their land so it can build a 600-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina.  The energy consortium, which includes Charlotte-based Duke Energy, said this week that about 20 percent of 2,900 landowners whose properties lie in the path of the proposed underground pipeline have not signed voluntary agreements to allow their land to be used for the project, including an estimated 200 property owners in eight North Carolina counties…. While the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has undisputed legal authority to use private land for the project, the looming court actions against rural residents touch on sensitive issues of property rights and farming traditions. Atlantic Coast Pipeline to take landowners to court to clear way for 600-mile project.  November 17, 2017, News and Observer

sustainablesandhills

Photo from Sustainable Sandhills

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is being touted as a vital supply line for economic development in eastern North Carolina, but it also would contribute to a major threat to the flood-prone region by exacerbating climate change…. Practical and immediate concerns need to be addressed, but the overarching reason to oppose a new pipeline that would carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day is that it takes North Carolina’s and the nation’s energy development in exactly the wrong direction. Money should be poured into the development of renewable energy and the generation of power on site rather than into the pumping in of fossil fuel from hundreds of miles away. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will slow conversion to more renewable energy. November 18, 2017, News and Observer.

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Photo from Public Radio East

The planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline, already more than a year behind schedule, could face further delays as North Carolina officials once again seek additional information on the project’s potential impacts to the communities the pipeline will traverse.  The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday sent the pipeline’s developers a fourth round of questions about the economic benefits and environmental risks of the project. … In North Carolina, the project requires an air quality permit to operate a compressor station in Northampton County that will help push the gas through the pipeline…. It also requires a water quality permit to allow the underground pipeline to cross several hundred streams, creeks and other bodies of water. This permit hinges on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s responses to the fourth set of questions. The agency is asking for information previously requested but not adequately answered by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Atlantic Coast Pipeline faces another delay as NC officials push for more details. November 30, 2017, News and Observer

atlanticcoastpipeline.org

Photo from Atlantic Coast Pipeline

In the war over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, opponents have lots of criticisms. … They say the 600-mile pipeline would ruin scenic vistas, pollute streams, stomp landowners’ rights and drive up electricity rates. … During the cycle, from the wellheads to the plants where it would be burned to generate electricity, a small portion of what’s extracted would leak. And it would be mostly methane – a greenhouse gas that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated is 34 times more effective a blanket for trapping atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. With global warming causing massive polar ice melts that, in turn, nudge sea levels higher, the leap in logic is inescapable. ,,, As with so many other pipeline-related issues, the question of climate change impacts likely is headed for the courts.  Would the Atlantic Coast Pipeline increase the threat of sea level rise in Hampton Roads? Dec 2, 2017.  The Virginian-Pilot

whowhatwhy.org

Photo from Who, What, Why

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, already more than a year behind schedule, missed another deadline Wednesday when North Carolina regulators said they would not issue an environmental permit by Dec. 15 as had been expected.  The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality sent the pipeline’s developers a request for more information on Monday, saying the request indefinitely suspends the Dec. 15 deadline to issue an air-quality permit for a planned compressor station that will push the natural gas downstream through the underground pipeline…. Dozens of organizations have lined up against the project, saying it poses environmental risks and will effectively commit North Carolina to fossil fuels, as opposed to renewable resources, for decades to come. Atlantic Coast Pipeline blows another deadline as NC officials seek more info, December 07, 2017, News and Observer

nrdc.org trench

Photo from NRDC

Duke Energy and Dominion Energy have filed court documents to acquire land via eminent domain for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  The utilities want to build a natural gas pipeline along the I-95 corridor, connecting to fracking operations in West Virginia. Duke and Dominion are seeking seven chunks of private land in Nash and Cumberland Counties.  Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby says the condemnation complaints are a last resort.  “We’ve been fortunate to reach agreements with about 80 percent of the landowners, and in most of those cases it was after both sides made concessions,” Ruby said.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline Seeks Eminent Domain in NC.  Dec 7, 2017, WUNC Radio

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Map from NC Department of Environmental Quality

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC this month filed lawsuits in federal court against six property owners near Fayetteville and one in Nash County, about 100 miles north of Fayetteville, to access their land for the underground pipeline.  It’s part of an effort to begin construction next year, a spokesman said. The litigation asks the court to grant Atlantic the property by eminent domain. Even though the pipeline will be a private, for-profit, non-governmental entity, the company contends that federal law allows it to take control, similar to how the government forces people to sell their land for a public project like a road or public building.  If the landowners fail to respond within 21 days of being served the lawsuit, the company contends it could immediately go on their property. Payment would be decided later.  Atlantic wants permanent easements — the right to use land in which the pipeline will be built —plus temporary easements for construction.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline sues landowners.  December 8, 2017. The Fayetteville Observer

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Photo from RVA News

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