Aug. 14–MEBANE — It was Mebane’s turn Monday, Aug. 13, to hear about the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, including a warning from the Occaneechi tribe in Pleasant Grove.
Caroline Hansley, an organizer for the environmental organization Sierra Club, gave council members numerous reasons why they should oppose the 72-mile natural gas pipeline during her 10-minute presentation.
She included the burden placed on landowners, the environmental impacts of existing pipelines, and the state’s push for renewable energy.
After answering a few questions from the council, she stepped aside to allow the public to comment.
Jason Crazy Bear Tircuit Keck, a member of the Louisiana band of the Choctaw nation who married a council member of the Occaneechi-Saponi tribe in Pleasant Grove, was one of two people to speak.
He told the council that the Occaneechi-Saponi have a longstanding reputation of cooperating with and defending the local farming community and that the pipeline is a major concern.
He further explained that his family in Louisiana has fought the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and the Standing Rock Pipeline in the Dakotas — which, he added, spilled 200,000 gallons of oil in November 2017 — and that he wanted to warn the council not to trust these companies.
“I’m going to end this, real quick, by letting you know that I am a firm believer in economy and profit and all of those things that make our town better, but I believe in it for the people and by the people. I don’t believe in it at the expense of the people,” Keck said.
He later told the Times-News that these companies claim “eminent domain,” which is defined as “the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation,” but said means nothing when you’re facing a Native American tribe that precedes the government.
Tom Boney, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Alamance News, was the second person to speak during public comments.
He criticized the council for not inviting a representative of the pipeline to give their side of the story after Hansley’s presentation.
“I just would note, Mr. Mayor, that, obviously, a number of local bodies are hearing the same presentation [and] so far most, which is two out of three, have heard from the pipeline at the same time so that you’re able to have a little more debate and a little more gleaning of the facts, or at least the points of contention about, ‘What are the facts?’ and I think the council has short-changed itself by only hearing from one side,” Boney said.
Mayor Glendel Stephenson responded by saying, “Tom, I would guess that the ‘other side,’ as you referred to them, was well-aware of [Hansley] being here tonight and they could have asked, just as well, to be here.”
In addition to the MVP discussion, the council heard requests for rezoning or special-use permits for the relocation of Warren’s Drug, Central Carolina Skin & Dermatology, a home day care center, and a Duke Energy power substation.
Reporter Jessica Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 336-506-3046. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicawtn.
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