Last week, we joined forces with fourteen local and national organizations to host a speaker’s panel in Raleigh, North Carolina, breaking the false narrative that gas is a bridge fuel to a stable climate.

The panel was the third installment in our “Bridge Fuel” Myth series, but it was unique in that it connected many local issues that North Carolinians face to the problem of gas more widely.

The event was moderated by Donna Chavis, Senior Fossil Fuel Campaigner with Friends of the Earth U.S., and included Climate Reality Project and NC Poor Peoples’ Campaigner William Barber III, former EPA Manager of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice Sherri White-Williamson, UNC-Pembroke student government Vice President Jorden Revels, and Oil Change International Research Analyst Lorne Stockman.

In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper continues to endorse new fossil gas infrastructure – which is completely misaligned with what climate science says we need to do to stay within Paris climate limits.

Just days before the event, Dr. Drew Shindell, a long-time climatologist at NASA and a coordinating lead author of last year’s Special Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released an open letter to Cooper imploring him to instate a “permanent moratorium” on new gas infrastructure in North Carolina.

The pressure falls specifically on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is currently headed to the Supreme Court after being repeatedly contested by affected communities and local environmental groups.

The first speaker was Jorden Revels, who spoke about the impact that fossil gas infrastructure and other projects have disproportionately placed on Indigienous communities and communities-of-color.

“Ever since the early 1900s, the impacts of capital projects have been perpetuated upon our peoples, with corporations trying to secure our natural resources for profit,” he said in his talk.

Second, William Barber III spoke to the intersectionality of environmental justice and the climate crisis, including the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.

“When you look at the climate science, when you look at environmental justice, and the economics…the talking points do not hold. Natural gas pipelines as a climate solution is a lie,” he stated.

Next, Lorne Stockman delivered a robust presentation on our recent report, Burning the Gas ‘Bridge Fuel’ Myth: Why Gas Is Not Clean, Cheap, or Necessary.

Recognizing that methane leakage is often the focus of arguments against gas, Stockman focused on other key arguments such as how gas breaks the carbon budget, coal-to-gas switching fails to cut emissions enough, and how new gas infrastructure locks-in emissions for decades to come.

“It’s clear from carbon budgets,” he said, “that we can’t be building more pipelines and gas power plants which enable more drilling and gas production.”

Lastly, Sherri White-Williamson took the stage, discussing the historical and pervasive grip the oil and gas industry has held across low-income and communities-of-color across the United States for decades.

From Richmond, CA to Mossville, LA, Manchester in Houston and Corpus Christi, TX, fossil fuel corporations and their infrastructure have poisoned communities for decades, choosing these regions because more affluent, white neighborhoods had the means to mobilize against such infrastructure.

Closing with a quote from Rev. Benjamin Chavis: “The issue of environmental racism is an issue of life and death. It is not just an issue of some form of prejudice, where someone doesn’t like you because of the color of your skin. This is an issue that will take your life away – if you don’t get involved.”

Gas has played a controversial role in North Carolina for a long time. Last year, the state legislature gave over $7 million to school districts that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross through, after Gov. Cooper brokered a deal with Dominion and Duke Energy to fast-track the pipeline.

Two hours later, the Department of Environmental Quality granted a key water quality permit that would allow the project to proceed.

Clearly #GasIsNotABridgeFuel to renewable energy, nor a viable climate solution for North Carolina. From the local impacts of gas infrastructure in North Carolina, to the historical and disproportionate burdens the oil and gas industry has placed on low-income and communities – the economic, scientific and moral arguments from our speakers make it clear that gas is a fast track to environmental and climate disaster.

 


One Comment

  • Dear Ms. Chavis:

    I was so very impressed by your presentation for the Friends of the Earth conference call this past week. I would like to draft a letter to my Congressional representatives with respect to the Atlantic Coast pipelines and Appalachian Trail issues. Could you kindly provide written details such as , but not exclusively, permit numbers, dates and bill number for where authorization would appear as a rider.

    Could you also kindly explain the process of how I would add your organization as a signatory of the letter. This was mentioned briefly on the call but I respectfully request the specific logistics.

    I look forward to hearing from you in the near future so I may submit the letter prior to the November Congressional deadline.

    Sincerely,

    Adrienne B. Naumann, Esq.

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