Op-Ed Pushing Atlantic Coast Pipeline Fails to Disclose Duke Energy Funding

Anti-fracking pipeline protestors dressed like characters from the Wizard of Oz

By Derek Seidman, originally posted at LittleSis.org

The battle over the Atlantic Coast pipeline is heating up in North Carolina, and Duke Energy’s paid agents are out doing the pipeline’s bidding — though most North Carolinians wouldn’t know it by reading the paper.

In a September 21st op-ed in the News & Observer entitled “Atlantic Coast Pipeline would Fuel Growth of NC Manufacturing,” author Steve Yost advocates strongly for North Carolina’s approval of the Atlantic Coast pipeline.

Among other assertions, Yost states, with no evidence or sources provided, that: “At stake are more than 4,400 jobs supported by its construction” in North Carolina. (More on this jobs claim, and where it actually comes from, below).

Yost’s bio line at the end of the op-ed merely reads: “Steve Yost is president of the N.C. Economic Development Association.”

However, readers of the op-ed in the News & Observer — the paper of Raleigh, North Carolina’s second largest city — wouldn’t know that Yost makes his bread and butter advancing the interests of Duke Energy, the Charlotte-based fossil fuel corporate giant that has a 47 percent stake in the Atlantic Coast pipeline.

One of the N.C. Economic Development Association's (NCEDAsponsors and funders is Duke Energy. The NCEDA site states that its sponsors’ “support” helps them to “educate economic development professionals and provide advocacy for important legislative issues that affect North Carolina’s economy.”

Duke Energy is also the top sponsor of NCEDA’s upcoming October 2017 fall conference. The webpage for the conference reads: “NCEDA 2017 Fall Conference, presented by Duke Energy.”

John Nelms, Senior Economic Manager of Duke Energy, also sits on the NCEDA board.

Yost also doesn’t disclose in the op-ed that he is president of North Carolina’s Southeast (NCS), which describes itself as “a regional public-private partnership that markets the southeast region, nationally and globally to encourage new economic growth.”

Duke is a funder of NCS — it is listed in the 2015-2016 NCS catalogue as one of its “private partners” that gives “sustained financial support.”

John Nelms of Duke also sits on the NCS board. David Fountain, the president of North Carolina Duke Energy, was the keynote speaker at NCS’s 2017 annual meeting.

Yost has other ties to Duke. He’s a member of the N.C. Coalition for Global Competitiveness, which Duke funds. Yost’s NCS was a sponsor of a 2016 “Duke Energy Economic Development Session,” which Yost spoke at.


See the ties between Steve Yost and Duke Energy mapped out at LittleSis.org

Thursday’s News & Observer op-ed isn’t the first time Yost has pushed for the Atlantic Coast pipeline in the press while not disclosing that he is funded by Duke. A March 2016 letter to the editor, for example, strongly advocated for the Duke-backed pipeline.

Yost’s close ties to Duke Energy and the Atlantic Coast pipeline also helps explain his unsourced claim that the pipeline will create 4,400 jobs in North Carolina. The number, in fact, comes from PR material promoted and paid for by Dominion Energy, who has a 48 percent stake in the pipeline. The jobs number is also being pushed by an astroturf front group that is funded by the American Petroleum Institute.

The battle over the Atlantic Coast pipeline is heating up in North Carolina after the state’s Department of Environmental Quality recently decided to delay its ruling on a water permit for the pipeline, requesting “more site-specific detail to ensure that downstream water quality is protected.” Meanwhile, opponents have been stepping up their protests against the pipeline.

As North Carolinians read the arguments of people like Steve Yost who support the pipeline, they should know that Yost and his organization are funded by Duke Energy, which is set to profit off of the pipeline.

Main image: Anti-pipeline protest in Virginia, which the Atlantic Coast pipeline will also cross. Credit: Anne MeadorCC BY-NC-ND 2.0