February 20, 2019

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation and their right to protect their land from extractive pipeline projects. 


We have witnessed the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en peacefully defend their territory from the illegal encroachment of the TransCanada Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Chevron Pacific Trails Pipeline, and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, among others. We are inspired by and grateful for the Wet’suwet’en for protecting their land, the water which flows through it, the forests which grow from it, and the animal and human communities that live upon it. We affirm the sovereignty of the Wet’suwet’en people to have jurisdiction and authority over their unceded territory for future generations to come.


We have also witnessed contractors for fossil fuel corporations repeatedly trespass on Wet’suwet’en land. Further, beginning on February 9 and continuing for the following days, we watched the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) invade the unceded Wet’suwet’en territory and forcibly arrest and remove Wet’suwet’en leaders and Indigenous land defenders from the Unist’ot’en and Gidimt’en camps. In no uncertain terms, we condemn the Canadian federal and provincial governments and the fossil fuel corporations for their actions in violation of Wet’suwet’en, Canadian, and international law. We demand that the Canadian federal and provincial governments honor the jurisdiction of the Wet’suwet’en people. We demand that all pipeline and extractivist projects cease on Wet’suwet’en territory not having the necessary free, prior, and informed consent from all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, as required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).


The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) is a grassroots, people of color-led coalition of community organizations and their supporters who work with low income communities and people of color on issues of climate, environmental, racial, and social injustice. We organize across the current land of the Coharie, Lumbee, Haliwa-Saponi, Sappony, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of Saponi Nation, Waccamaw-Siouan, and Eastern Band of Cherokee. We also know this land presently known as North Carolina is the traditional homelands of the Occaneechi, Eno, Shakori, Catawba, Cheraw, Cherokee, Creek, Tuscarora, and many other Indigenous nations.


We empathize with the struggle to defend our communities against the intrusion of gas pipelines, as we are also engaged in a struggle against Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which is planned to carry fracked gas from West Virginia and Pennsylvania through Virginia and North Carolina. According to Professor Ryan Emanuel, a hydrologist and enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) used flawed methodology in determining that the ACP would not have a disproportionate environmental justice impact on the Indigenous and African American communities of Eastern North Carolina. However, we know that extractive energy corporations plan to route their pipelines through communities that do not have economic or political clout, mistakenly banking on facing little resistance by targeting poor communities and communities of color. Dr. Emanuel found that, despite making up 1.2% of North Carolina’s population, Native Americans represent 13% of those living within one mile of the proposed pipeline route through North Carolina, impacting a quarter of the state’s Native American population. This is disproportionality an environmental justice impact. Our network of organizations based in communities targeted by the ACP has made clear we will resist the ACP plowing through our communities.


Fossil fuel pipelines challenge the rightful sovereignty of Indigenous people, jeopardize the land and water of the communities through which they pass, wreak havoc on the land and water from where the fuel is extracted, and pollute the air at the point where the fuel is burned, further plunging our planet into climate catastrophe. From North Carolina to Wet’suwet’en territory, we call for an end to fossil fuel pipelines and extractive projects! No to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline! No to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline! RCMP and fossil fuel corporations out of Wet’suwet’en territory! The Canadian government must respect Wet’suwet’en sovereignty! 


In solidarity,

The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network


For more information on how to support, please see the Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit: unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit2020/