PEMBROKE — For the second time in two months, the Lumbee Tribal Council on Thursday rejected a resolution regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The council voted 10-7 to kill a resolution calling on tribal administration to form a committee of community members, legal experts, council members and others to come up with a “Plan of Action” to address the pipeline’s effect on health, the environment and cultural resources, and establish better communication between the tribe and the builders of the pipeline that would carry natural gas from West Virginia to a point near Pembroke.
Eighteen of the council’s 21 members were present for Thursday’s meeting. Council Speaker Anita Hammonds Blanks abstained.
The resolution came out of the council’s Health Committee and was presented to the full council by committee Chairwoman Jan Lowry. Lowry explained the resolution allows Chairman Harvey Godwin to place whomever he wants on the committee. It also called for the pipeline’s builders to hire tribe members to help construct the pipeline and provide special training for tribe first responders so they could better handle emergency situations.
The resolution called for Godwin to have a plan of action in place no later than Aug. 20.
Multiple members of the council and one audience member objected to the resolution because they believed some of the wording suggested failure to pass past resolutions and reach agreements with the pipeline’s builders was the fault of tribal administration and Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. in particular.
“Throwing the administration under the bus it looks like to me,” Councilman Frank Cooper said.
He could never vote for the resolution, Cooper said.
“There’s some good words in this and there is some trash in this,” he said.
Other council members argued that an important aspect of the resolution is that it would tell tribe members that the council has tried to come up with a plan to address the pipeline’s effects on the people and the land and that the council has tried to reach agreements with the builders.
“I think people need to know that it wasn’t the council,” Councilwoman Barbara Lowery said.
Councilman Corbin Eddings urged the council members to move beyond casting blame and work together to come up with an action plan.
Hammonds asked Eddings what he meant by “work together.”
“That’s the problem,” Eddings said.
Eddings also argued that the council needed to show that whatever is done regarding the pipeline shouldn’t appear to be all about money. The resolution stipulated how money received from any agreement with the pipeline’s builders would be spent, yet the full council hasn’t approved how such money would be spent.
“It’s bigger than just these funds,” Eddings said.
When other council members objected to his speaking about money, Eddings forcefully pointed out that a proposed agreement stipulated that each of the four tribes who signed the agreement would received $1 million, half to be paid when the last tribe signed the agreement and the rest to be paid 30 days later.
“If ya’ll vote for this you are betraying the people,” Jonathan Jacobs shouted angrily while pointing a finger at the council.
Blanks called for order as others in the audience applauded Jacobs. Jacobs said there was no need to throw him out because he was leaving.
Godwin left the council chamber before the debate of the resolution to attend a wake.
A motion was made to send the resolution back to the Health Committee. It failed on an 11-7 vote.
On June 21 the council voted to rescind a resolution calling upon the builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to consult with the tribe about the environment and cultural resources. That vote also came after heated debate and a public comment period during which 11 people spoke against the resolution, some saying it was about being paid by the builders to not fight construction of the pipeline.
In other business, the council members approved:
— Shifting $649,194.38 from two budget line items into the Rehabilitation line item to pay for repairs to tribal members’ homes.
— Moving $55,069.97 from an unrestricted line item so tribal employees can be paid.
— A resolution allowing the tribe to become partners in a dental health study to be undertaken by The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, East Carolina University and New York University and funded by the National Institute of Health.
— Giving $1,200 to the Dixie Youth Belles softball team to help pay for the team’s participation in the upcoming world series tournament in Louisiana. The team won the age 15 and under state Dixie Youth championship on Wednesday.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]