The development of Cove Point, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility located right on the Chesapeake Bay in Southern Maryland, is the linchpin in this plan. Dominion's Cove Point facility is the first LNG export terminal slated for the East Coast. It would 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.
The Public Service Commission is taking public comment about Cove Point. Be sure to submit your public comment here.
On February 20th, over 700 people gathered in Baltimore to say 'Stop Cove Point.' Read about it here.
Exporting Fracked Gas to the World through Maryland
Dominion Energy wants Cove Point, originally built during the 1970s to import gas, to become the first liquefied natural gas export facility approved on the East Coast. The project would cost upwards of $3.8 billion dollars, require the construction of an energy-intensive plant on-site to liquefy and cool the gas, draw a surge of tanker traffic into the Bay—and enable the export of over one billion cubic feet of carbon-emitting fracked natural gas per day.
The rapid expansion of fracking has led to a glut of gas in the U.S. Exporting LNG is the industry's opportunity to drive up gas prices at home and drive up its own profits—at our communities' expense.
The Consequences for our Communities
LNG exports will increase pollution and health risks from gas drilling, processing and transport at home, turning our communities into industrial sacrifice zones for energy being shipped elsewhere.
More Dangerous Fracking
If the Cove Point export facility is approved, it will provide a strong economic incentive for companies to expand fracking across our region, including in Maryland, where no drilling yet occurs. In other states, the expansion of fracking has caused drinking water contamination, air pollution, illnesses and even earthquakes.
Risking the Chesapeake Bay Economy and Ecology
The Chesapeake Bay supports more than a trillion dollars in economic activity through seafood and tourism. Exporting gas from Cove Point would increase traffic of massive, 1,000-foot long tankers carrying volatile, potentially explosive liquid fuel. Harmful emissions from those tankers would worsen local air quality. They would also dump billions of gallons of dirty ballast wastewater into the Bay each year. Construction of the gas liquefaction facility would require the clearing of forests and barging in of heavy construction materials along the Patuxent River, further threatening the network of rivers, wetlands and forests that attract tourists and support rare species of plants, animals and migratory birds.
A Web of Destructive Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
To support the export of LNG on the East Coast, new pipelines will be needed throughout the Marcellus shale states to get gas from new drilling wells to the export terminal. Pipelines, which inevitably leak and rupture causing dangerous explosions and fires, would snake through our waterways, backyards and farms. Noisy, polluting compressor stations could be required from Fairfax, Virginia to Frederick, Maryland and everywhere in between to keep gas moving through pipelines. Residents of the small, rural town of Myersville, Maryland are already fighting a 16,000-horsepower compressor station that Dominion wants to construct, which would be located just a mile from their elementary school.
Making Natural Gas More Expensive at Home
If all the proposed LNG export projects in the U.S. are approved, the result would be the export of more than 40 percent of our current production of natural gas. This means more competition at home, and thus, higher prices for domestic consumers and industries.
According to the NERA Economic Consulting Analysis commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, exporting natural gas harms every major sector of the U.S. economy, except the gas industry. In the graphic above, negative numbers represent economic loss, positive numbers equal economic gain.
The Consequences for our Climate
Cove Point is our region's line in the sand on climate change. Looking at the big picture impacts of fracking, the International Energy Agency concludes that a worldwide reliance on fracked gas would lead to six degrees Fahrenheit of atmospheric warming, in other words, cooking the planet.
LNG exports are even more energy intensive than gas drilled and burned at home. After the gas is transported, liquefied for export and then re-gasified to burn, the lifecycle emissions of exported LNG are 15 percent higher than gas consumed domestically. To power liquefying and cooling operations, Cove Point would require construction of a new gas plant on-site that would be Maryland's fourth-largest climate polluter. From start to finish of the LNG export process, Cove Point would trigger more planet-heating pollution than Maryland's entire fleet of seven coal-fired power plants combined.
If we're going to preserve a safe climate, we can't open the floodgates to fracked gas exports on the East Coast—just like we can't build the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline to the Gulf Coast or new coal export terminals on the West Coast. We can and must invest instead in clean energy, making our region a leader in offshore wind power, new solar installations and energy efficiency, technologies that will create jobs and grow our economy permanently and safely.
International Trade Deal Threatens to Fast-Track LNG Exports
The United States is negotiating a far-reaching and massive international trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Broadly, the deal would give multinational corporates new rights to challenge local and state laws that protect our environment, public safety, and health—simply for cutting into their profits. Because the trade pact includes countries that are top importers of natural gas it would provide economic incentives to expand fracking and natural gas exports along the East Coast. A diverse coalition is forming to fight the TPP, and CCAN has partnered with Public Citizen and the Sierra Club on educational events in Maryland.
- Sign the petition: Call on Governor Martin O'Malley to oppose Cove Point and help protect Marylanders from the unacceptable pollution impacts of LNG exports.
- Join the Rally & March to Stop Cove Point February 20th in Baltimore: As a key hearing unfolds at the Public Service Commission, we'll hold the largest environmental protest ever organized in downtown Baltimore to draw a region-wide line in the sand against Cove Point. Click here to RSVP. Buses are available from Frederick, Columbia, Calvert County, and Takoma Park. To reserve a bus seat, click here.
- Submit a Public Comment: Call on the Maryland Public Service Commission to deny Dominion's permit application to construct its Cove Point gas liquefaction and export operation.
- Call Sens. Cardin and Mikulski: MD deserves a full Environmental Impact Statement on Cove Point fracked gas exports.
- Sign up to help organize actions: Let us know how you or your organization or community group can help as we prepare for a big rally in February in Baltimore -- and beyond.
- Fact sheet: Get the facts on the dangers of fracked gas exports at Cove Point versus the benefits of expanding Maryland's clean energy supply.
- Fact Sheet: Get the facts on how the proposed Cove Point LNG export facility threatens southern Maryland.
- Read the Politico op-ed on Cove Point by 350 co-founder Bill McKibben and CCAN director Mike Tidwell. Learn how the Cove Point fight leads directly to President Obama, and get the facts on why Dominion's plan is "radical and absurd on its face, benefits no one in the long run but the super-rich fossil-fuel industry and does real harm to an already ailing global climate."
- Download a map of Maryland Gas Basins according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
- Infographic: See how the LNG processing plant proposed for Cove Point would be Maryland's fourth largest climate polluter.
- Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions analysis: View the analysis showing that LNG exports at Cove Point would trigger as much or more lifecycle greenhouse gas pollution than all seven of Maryland's seven coal-fired power plants combined. Click here for a detailed breakdown of how the lifecycle pollution of Cove Point fracked gas would likely be as bad if not worse for the climate than coal.
- Dominion Fracked Gas Facility Explosion: Get the facts about the as-yet-unexplained explosion at the Dominion Blue Racer facility in West Virginia.
- Letter to Dominion: Why did a dominion fracked gas facility explode this past September? Environmental health, community and faith groups want answers.
- Read CCAN's response letter refuting Dominion's claims.
- Baltimore Sun editorial: "Cove Point deserves closer examination," 12/2/2013
- Washington Post op-ed: Read CCAN Director Mike Tidwell's breakdown of the climate consequences of Dominion's LNG export plan.
- Baltimore Sun op-ed: Read CCAN Chief Policy Analyst James McGarry's summary of why fracked gas exports are a bad deal for Marylanders.
- Polling data: See the results of statewide polling showing that 81 percent of Maryland voters believe that a full federal environmental impact statement should be required for the proposed fracked gas export facility at Cove Point.
- Letters to Governor O'Malley: In September, 122 local, state and national groups called on the governor to publicly oppose the Cove Point LNG export terminal. In October, a coalition of groups urged the governor to, as a first step, demand that federal regulators complete a full federal environmental impact statement on the project.
- Learn more: Read more about the threat of U.S. LNG exports from the Sierra Club.