The Mebane City council met earlier this week to determine whether or not to approve two land use permits necessary for the development of a Buc-ee’s gas station within the city’s jurisdiction along I-40. The Buc-ee’s would have 120 fuel positions, or 60 fuel tanks, which would mean roughly 25 underground fuel storage tanks holding 30,000 gallons of fuel.
We have concerns about Underground Storage Tank leaks or incidents, which would contaminate groundwater and the two adjacent tributaries to Back Creek. Just 10 gallons of petroleum hydrocarbons can contaminate up to 12 million gallons of drinking water.
The hearing began at 6pm, but the council allowed Buc-ee’s attorneys and engineers to present well into the night. At 9:30pm the public hearing finally started. 46 people spoke against the development, and 25 spoke for the development. At 1:45 in the morning, the council unanimously voted to approve the land use permit. In the second process of the hearing that night, the council unanimously voted to approve the special use condition for the permit. That decision came at 2:45am after more lengthy presentations from Buc-ee’s attorneys and engineers, and expert testimony provided by Emily and others.
Ayo Wilson, Director of Clean Energy & Climate Justice of the West End Revitalization Association (WERA) and Haw River Assembly Board President, responded:
“Mebane City Council dismissed the concerned, informed voices of its citizens and the vote from the Mebane Planning Board in favor of corporate profits that will never see the light of day in the City. Buc-ee’s executives claim to be friendly and supportive of clean energy and electric vehicles, while doing nothing to accommodate that as we see clean energy initiatives gain traction around the nation. A business with massive fossil fuel infrastructure claiming to be a friend of the environment is an assault on common sense. Buc-ee’s will bring only environmental degradation and contamination while adding more stress on Mebane’s infrastructure as communities of color, and low-income communities continue to be intentionally excluded. Buc-ee’s is a bad step backwards for all of NC.”
Emily Sutton, Haw Riverkeeper with the Haw River Assembly responded:
“I’m encouraged by the tenacity of our community members to stay well into the early hours of the morning to speak out against this project. Though the council has approved these initial permits, we will continue to push Buc-ee’s to follow through on their promises for environmental safeguards. This company has much work to do to build trust in this community, and it can start by going beyond bare minimum requirements to protect our communities and our water quality.”