We have been one blessed organization, enjoying the knowledge, skills, and expertise of Hope Taylor, our former Executive Director for 22 years. Even before Hope took on the ED role in 1999, she was an active participant and volunteer of Clean Water for North Carolina (CWFNC). As your new ED, I have some big shoes to fill and the shoulders of a giant on which to stand.
As I stepped into this amazing position, I was honored that Hope offered to stay onboard for several weeks through the transition and to remain an active participant in our incredible non-profit. With Hope officially retiring on April 30th, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the years of service and accomplishments Hope has led in her tenure with impacts well into our future.
Establishing Clean Water for All
CWFNC was established in 1984 as the Clean Water Fund of North Carolina with a group of volunteers who, quite literally, met around a kitchen table in Charlotte. This remarkable group of individuals was committed to working with communities to protect against environmental pollution of our water, air, and environments, and most notably to make the state’s environmental policies more just and inclusive. CWFNC is guided by these goals set forth by our founders and the principles of Environmental Justice.
Under Hope’s leadership, CWFNC has stood with communities of color and low wealth to fight against a number of pipelines, factories, and other developments that would have harmed these neighboring and downstream communities. Her environmental justice work included outreach, education, and advocacy for protection of water and air quality where cumulative impacts have treated impacted communities as “sacrifice zones” such that residents are routinely expected to either put up with even more pollution or just move away; communities that have already disproportionately sacrificed so much for generations.
Hope has put her biochemistry and public health expertise to fantastic use to cut through the technical jargon of air and water permit applications, as well as proposed legislation and rulemaking.
In the early 2000s, she used that expertise to spotlight a number of physical, chemical, and biological dangers posed by the Evergreen Packaging / Blue Ridge Paper mill to downstream neighbors in Western North Carolina and Tennessee. Armed with allies, the impacted rural and low wealth communities were able to ensure proper protections of the Pigeon River, and CWFNC continues to monitor the mill and river to this day.
In the early 2010s, Hope also led CWFNC to inform the community about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) during a time of renewed interest by the oil and gas industry. Hope warned of the industry’s expected rush to legalize fracking and obtain mineral rights. She formed the Frack Free NC Alliance with many other grassroots groups and worked with allies at the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic to assist local communities in preemptively protecting themselves from these fracking interests. The efforts included drafting a model ordinances and resolutions to ban fracking.
Since 2014, Hope also led the way to fight the Atlantic Coast Pipeline which was slated to run primarily through African-American, Native American, and low wealth communities. Coordinating with several ally organizations and communities, CWFNC worked tirelessly through the various stages of numerous permitting organizations to stop the pipeline.
After years of these challenges, including legal battles in courts, Duke and Dominion CANCELLED their plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on July 6, 2020.
Thank You and Farewell
These are just a few snapshots of major contributions Hope has made to protect communities in North Carolina, and we will be forever grateful for her leadership. With all these accomplishments and great programs in place, our team will carry on this important work leading the way for safe, affordable water for all and holding polluters accountable to prevent harm and empower communities.
Please join us in celebrating Hope’s accomplishments and wish her a warm farewell.