Environmental groups are expressing outrage and vowing resistance following the federal approval of a controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Calvert County, Maryland.
The Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, proposed by energy company Dominion, would be the nation's first such terminal on the East Coast. There are three existing LNG export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico, while 14 other LNG export proposals await approval.
Cove Point would use an existing LNG terminal site on the Chesapeake Bay, and, according to a statement from Dominion President Diane Leopold, it will take advantage of the nation's "burgeoning surplus of natural gas."
The decision to approve the fiercely opposed project was issued Monday by the the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
FERC states that the project "is in the public interest."
In a press statement, Dominion welcomed the news, and said the project would bring "significant economic, environmental and geopolitical benefits."
But critics charge that the multi-billion dollar project, slated to export up to 5.75 metric tons of liquefied natural gas annually, will enable more fracking, contribute to further climate change, threaten public health and divert funds that should instead be invested in renewable energy projects.
"FERC’s decision to allow LNG exports from Cove Point is fundamentally flawed because the agency failed to consider the simple fact that exporting LNG will mean more drilling and fracking, and that means more climate pollution, more risk of contaminated groundwater, and more threats to the health of people who live near gas wells," Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign, said in a media statement. "FERC should be standing up for the public good, not the interests of dirty polluters."
Critics also said they would pursue legal avenues to challenge the decision.
"I think the message from the citizens, in receiving this news, is don't mourn... organize," said Tracey Eno, a member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, during a press call Tuesday. "And this is not the end. This is not a done deal and we will continue to be vigilant about every single step."
"We could take more dramatic actions," Eno continued, "because at this point we have nothing to lose, because we have everything to lose."