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The battle has just begun for two Brunswick County residents determined to stop the proposed North Carolina International Terminal (NCIT) port from becoming a reality.
Former members of No Port Southport, a grassroots group created solely to stop NCIT, Toby Bronstein and Mike Rice have created Save the Cape, Inc. as a permanent group.
“We have taken the next step to convert the grassroots organization focused on one project to an permanent organization ready to take on similar projects,” Bronstein said. “The model for Save the Cape is Save the Bay at Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Born in 1970 of an effort to oppose a nuclear power plant on the bay, the organization has grown to a permanent, fully staffed operation now considered essential to provide the environmental balance in regional decisions. We have the same ambition, and this area has the same need.”
She and Rice stated by the time they were able to organize No Port Southport, they had already lost valuable time in which the opposition was able to gain advantages by moving forward unopposed. The creation of a permanent group would enable the activation of members a lot quicker and allow the group a more equal footing, they said.
“Save the Cape was founded in August,” Bronstein said. “We needed more permanence in order to have the strength to counter the Corps of Engineers, commissioners, etc. We believe in taking the battle to Raleigh and to Washington, D.C., because that is where the true battle happens.”
The group is seeking the cooperation of small environmental groups in the area to work together. It is far easier to stop something of this nature at the outset rather than after they are committed, said Rice.
“Tourism is critically important to North Carolina. If this port came in, it would devastate the beaches,” Bronstein said, noting the proposed dredging of a 600-foot-wide and 52-feet-deep channel starting 17 miles offshore to accommodate large container ships.
“Such a channel cannot follow the existing channel past Southport, but must be cut through shallow water (1 foot deep), islands and marshland to the east of Battery Island.”
While the newly formed group’s first mission is to stop the port, it plans to be ready and on guard against future projects members also feel would devastate the communities they are working to preserve and protect.
“Our first critical step in preserving and protecting the lower Cape Fear region is to stop the NCIT from ever seeing the light of day,” Rice said. “This $3.2 billion project…will have an irrevocable, catastrophic impact on the delicate ecological balance of this region.”
“Why should people in Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach care? First, the ships bring in invasive species and secondly because the trucks will be barreling past their door,” Bronstein said. “The greatest threat is truck traffic. There will be 4,400 trucks a day going past the high school on [Hwy.] 211. Not to mention the diesel pollution from the trucks, trains and ships. The pollution isn’t confined to Southport but it blows with the wind. The health risks in the communities due to the diesel exhaust from the ships and trucks is going to raise the death rate and lower life expectancy.”
The group is in the process of attaining non-profit status. The founders are building their membership base and say they are looking for like-minded people to join their fight to save the Cape Fear region.
To sign up for the group’s newsletter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the group’s vision and research, visit www.savethecape.org or join the conversation on Facebook. Emails may also be sent to email@example.com.