Kelly Trout, email@example.com, 240-396-2022
First-of-Its-Kind Protest: Activists Pressure Senators Mikulski and Cardin at Offices Statewide to Demand Accountability on Flimsy Cove Point LNG Export Review
From Cumberland to Salisbury, Marylanders visit each of the Senators’ offices and issue a letter demanding full answers on climate change, fracking, and safety risks from $3.8 billion project
BALTIMORE—In a statewide series of demonstrations, Maryland residents gathered outside the district and Washington, DC offices of Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin on Thursday to decry the federal handling of a controversial proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility on the Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland. In the wake of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)’s release last week of a widely criticized draft “Environmental Assessment” for the $3.8 billion Cove Point project, the activists are appealing to the senators to protect the health, environment and safety of Maryland communities and demand that FERC conduct a full and fair review.
Carrying banners reading “EIS for Cove Point,” dozens of activists joined the Thursday demonstrations spanning the senators’ offices in Cumberland, Hagerstown, Rockville, Baltimore, Bowie, Greenbelt, Annapolis, Salisbury and DC. (Click here to view photos.)
In a letter delivered at each office, the activists underscored, “From climate pollution to fracking to human safety, FERC’s analysis falls far short of the depth Marylanders deserve.” The letter explains, “We came here today because the dangers to our communities and climate are too great to settle for anything but the most thorough review and the highest degree of public input. We demand an [Environmental Impact Statement], and we are here today to ask that you stand with us.”
Environmental, health, community and student groups across Maryland have denounced the draft federal environmental assessment – including via a full-page ad in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun — for sweeping many serious dangers of the project under the rug, from climate change pollution to expanded fracking to human safety risks in Calvert County. From the beginning, community and environmental groups have called for, at a minimum, a thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be conducted on the project, which requires a higher standard of scrutiny and public participation.
In order to demonstrate how critical the fight against Cove Point export facility is to the entire region, more than 50 groups in Maryland and throughout the Marcellus Shale region have formed the Cove Point Emergency Committee (CPEC). Groups in Pennsylvania and New York are concerned that the Cove Point facility would lead to more drilling and fracking in the Marcellus shale. The entire region would see the build out of pipelines and compressor stations required for the transport of gas, all of which come with safety and environmental risks for communities. Yesterday, in solidarity with the statewide demonstrations, CPEC promoted a call-in day, encouraging Maryland citizens to voice their concerns by contacting Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and asking them to call for an EIS for Cove Point.
Senators Cardin and Mikulski have added their voices to the Cove Point debate before, calling on FERC to hold statewide public meetings regarding the proposed facility. However, FERC ignored their request, and is planning to hold only one public meeting in Lusby, MD, on May 31st. Only a full and customary EIS, advocates contend, is acceptable for a project as massive and as potentially damaging as Cove Point.
The Cove Point export terminal, proposed by Virginia-based Dominion Resources, would take nearly a billion cubic feet of gas per day from fracking wells across Appalachia, liquefy it on the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to be burned in Asia.
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
Over the past year, the Cove Point project has attracted steady challenges on multiple fronts, ballooning into a regional controversy. In February, more than 700 people rallied outside the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) headquarters in Baltimore, urging the agency to reject controversial air and water pollution permits for the Cove Point project. In March, 16 national environmental groups penned a letter to President Obama demanding that he hold FERC accountable to conducting an EIS for Cove Point as a first step in reversing course on his administration’s fast-tracking of LNG exports. In April, a coalition of national, regional and community-based groups opposed to the project delivered over 40,000 public comments to the PSC. In May, advocates and a Dominion shareholder filed an official complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission over transparency concerns related to the project.