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An environmental victory


This is another of my photo essays on grassroots environmental activism.

For three and a half years, ever since a Tea Party takeover of the legislature has tried to fast-track fracking and off-shore oil drilling into North Carolina, a tenacious little organization called No Fracking in Stokes has fought to keep fracking out of Stokes County. To corporations and urban outsiders, Stokes County looks like a poor county with a backward population that would be just perfect for an environmental sacrifice zone — a good place for fracking, toxic waste dumps, and stuff that nobody else will put up with.

Those of us who actually live here beg to differ. To us, Stokes County is a place of unspoiled Vermont-like beauty in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have a river (the Dan River), our own mountain range (the Saura range), and the most popular state park in North Carolina (Hanging Rock State Park). Our economic roots are agriculture and tourism. The old cash crop of tobacco no longer brings in much money here. Manufacturing is long gone. We desperately need to revive our economy with forms of economic development that take advantage of, rather than ruin, our rural landscape and way of life.

Last night, the all-Republican board of county commissioners unanimously approved a three-year moratorium on fracking in Stokes County. This is the strongest action against fracking that the board can take under North Carolina law, because the pro-fracking legislature has done everything possible to tie the hands of, and to intimidate, local governments. This was a conservative county board telling its own party in the state capital to keep its money-grubbing hands off our county.

Though this issue has certainly caused turmoil in Stokes County these past three years, in the end the fracking issue has united this county as never before. You haven’t lived until you’ve witnessed a room full of people of all political stripes, including left-wing liberals like me, not to mention a large turnout from the African-American community, giving a standing ovation to a Republican board.

At the local level, the system still works.




















One Comment

  1. Jo wrote:

    I read this in the news today and immediately thought of your prior posts on this matter. This shows what a smart and determined group can do. Need some of their good common sense in Raleigh. Smart people protecting a wonderful way of life in my book.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

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