EXAMINING ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP IN GATES COUNTY, NC: THE COMPETING INTERESTS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL AND MILITARY READINESS
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Citizens of rural Gates County, NC, have organized to oppose the Navy’s siting of an outlying landing field (OLF) in their community, which would potentially displace people from their homes and businesses, restrict access to recreational land, and introduce noise and pollution. The Navy claims that it needs an OLF supplemental to its NAS Oceana base in Virginia to support its mission of military readiness. This study examines the myriad perspectives of the issue through the lens of environmental justice. Using relevant case law, oral arguments, Navy environmental policy documents, and press interviews with Navy personnel attached to the OLF project, I draw a profile of the Navy as a utilitarian environmental citizen. In contrast, video interviews with members of the citizens’ group give voice and dimensionality to a population with a deep sense of community and a demonstrated history of environmental stewardship—and that defines itself as fiercely patriotic. Finally, I chart the trade-offs involved in pursuit of a resolution. Through my association with the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, findings from this study will contribute to a “citizens’ EIS” being conducted by the citizens group, simultaneous to the Navy’s EIS.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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