“If Cove Point happens, Western Maryland will be in the crosshairs,” said Paul Roberts, a member of the state’s Marcellus Shale advisory commission.
Maryland has been trying to move away from carbon fuels, and the Cove Point project, if approved, would be a radical change in direction, said Leslie Morrison, Healthy Communities Campaign director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Cove Point is ... a pollution worst-case scenario,” Morrison said. The fossil fuel emissions used to transport the gas and process and export the gas overseas will be as bad, if not worse, than pollution and carbon emissions caused by coal, Morrison said. “This is not, by any reasonable standard, clean energy.”
The proposal includes a 3,500 foot sound barrier. Methane escaping into the atmosphere is a powerful driver of global warming, Morrison said.
Increasing production of natural gas from fracking across the eastern U.S. will mean more and expanded pipelines criss-crossing the area and potentially leaking, Morrison said. Every 40 to 100 miles of pipeline to Cove Point would require a compressor station.
Cove Point would create more global warming than all of Maryland’s coal-fired power plants combined, Morrison said.
The price of natural gas will be driven up by the exports, Morrison said, meaning enormous profits for gas companies and Dominion, the project developer.
Ann Nau, a Myersville resident, is fighting Dominion’s plans to build a compressor station the size of a large barn in the town.
Federal law governs the project, which makes the fight tough, Nau said.
The Cove Point project still requires many permits. Dominion wants to bypass a full environmental impact statement for the project. Rally organizers said the public wants a full impact statement. Morrison pointed to a recent poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc., which found that 81 percent of Marylanders believe a full impact statement should be required.
Organizers also recognized local environmental heroes, including the organization Citizen Shale, the mayor of Mountain Lake Park, Britten L. (Leo) Martin Jr. and Roberts. Mountain Lake Park has passed an ordinance against fracking within the municipality.
The series of rallies throughout the state were backed by a number of environmental organizations.
“I’m not the hero in this. The heroes in this are the volunteers,” Martin said.