A natural gas export terminal being proposed near a small coastal town in Maryland would increase toxic gas fracking operations around the region, hurt the environment, speed up climate change, and do little for "energy independence" in the United States, campaigners warned at the "the largest environmental protest in Baltimore history" on Thursday.
At issue is the proposal to convert the Dominion Cove Point Liquid Natural Gas import terminal into an export terminal, a plan which is up for approval with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, Maryland's Public Service Commission in Baltimore has the power to veto the proposed 130-megawatt power plant that energy company Dominion needs to build for the export operation, the Baltimore Sun reports.
On Thursday, the commission held a hearing on Dominion's proposal, which drew over 700 protesters from around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region to its doorstep.
"The controversial $3.8 billion Cove Point project, proposed by Virginia-based Dominion Resources, would take gas from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it along the Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland, and export it to Asia," writes the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who has helped lead the charge against the project.
Among a long list of grievances with the proposed facility, campaigners a CCAN argue it would:
- "Trigger more greenhouse gas emissions than any other single source of climate pollution in Maryland."
- Initiate a "web of new pipelines and processing plants across Maryland and Virginia in order to export fracked natural gas to overseas markets,"
- And "Drive demand for a surge of new hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," for gas in our region and require an expanding network of new fossil fuel infrastructure."
"While the gas industry would profit, we would pay the price of scarred landscapes, polluted air and waterways, livelihoods at risk, and worsened climate change," they write.
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On Thursday protesters carried a 100-foot-long faux gas pipeline reading the words "Stop Cove Point" through Baltimore, stopping at the large rally held outside of the hearing.
“We know it will take a movement to go up against the deep pockets of Dominion, and that movement is here today, representing people from across Maryland and the region who know the major impacts of this project in their local communities," said Josh Tulkin, director of Maryland Sierra Club, at the rally. "From the streets to the courts, we’ll continue challenging Dominion every step of the way. The stakes for our bay, our communities, and our climate are simply too high to do anything less.”
Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr., CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus stated:
The climate crisis is our lunch-counter moment of the 21st century. If we don’t win this one, we all lose. Yet now Dominion is standing at Maryland’s door, trying to block its path to a fossil-free future. Today, we send this message to Dominion: We will organize, we will mobilize, we will fight in every peaceful way possible to ensure clean solar panels and wind turbines crisscross our region – not your planet-wrecking vision of new fracking wells, pipelines, and compressors.”
Inside the hearing Sierra Club attorney Joshua Berman, argued that Dominion's reasons for building the site were misleading and, infact, the export terminal would cause an increase in domestic natural gas prices and, in turn, increase the domestic use of coal.
U.S. Department of Energy has already given Dominion its approval to go ahead with the terminal. It was unclear after Thursday's hearing whether or not it will be approved by the Baltimore Commission.