All press inquiries should be directed to Communications Director Kelly Trout.
email: [email protected]
In response to rising concerns, senators ask Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to "engage the public to the fullest extent possible"
Letter requests prompt response to calls for public meetings in Montgomery, Frederick, Garrett, Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties
ANNAPOLIS—Maryland’s powerful U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin have weighed in on the growing Cove Point gas export controversy by calling on federal officials to respond to a request for public meetings all across the state. In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the senators said expressions of concern from health, faith, environmental, and community leaders statewide have led them to ask FERC to respond promptly to a request for public meetings on Cove Point in Garrett, Frederick, Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties.
To date, FERC has agreed to hold only one public meeting—in Calvert County—for the proposed $3.8 billion Cove Point "liquefaction" and export facility for fracked gas. The project would take 770 million cubic feet of gas per day from all across the Marcellus Shale region of Appalachia, liquefy it to 260 degrees below zero, and then ship it to Asia via special tanker ships entering the Chesapeake Bay.
An outpouring of concern has emerged in recent months from citizens across the state—over possible new pipelines, fracking hazards, rising gas prices, and an increase in global warming pollution. Activists say these impacts would affect the entire state and therefore warrant official public meetings statewide in which FERC takes public comments and responds to these concerns.
Peaceful sit-in by central Maryland mothers, county commission candidate and Frederick resident follows Cumberland protest last week
Protesters demand justice for Frederick Co. residents facing pollution from Dominion gas compressor linked to Cove Point
FREDERICK—One week following a peaceful sit-in that led to four arrests in Cumberland, four central Maryland residents were arrested today outside the Frederick County Courthouse protesting Virginia-based Dominion Resources' plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. With signs reading "FERC: Don't Bully Frederick Co." and "We Demand Justice for Myersville," the four protesters—including a county commission candidate, an asthma sufferer, a mother, and a Frederick resident who grew up playing baseball in Cove Point Park—blocked the courthouse entrance and demanded a full and fair federal environmental impact review of Dominion's controversial $3.8 billion plan.
From Cumberland to Frederick, protesters are drawing attention to the interconnected, statewide impacts that could be triggered by the Cove Point export facility, including the invasion of dangerous gas fracking wells and related gas pipeline and compressor infrastructure.
"Dominion doesn't respect the wishes of the citizens of Myersville, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is failing to protect the public," said Steve Bruns, a Frederick resident who is running for a seat on the county commission. "Dominion has sued the Town of Myersville and the Maryland Department of the Environment to force its gas compressor project on our county. This sort of contempt for the health and safety of the people of Maryland is unacceptable in a democratic society. Our government isn't getting the message, so we're here today to crank up the volume."
Local minister joins western MD students and resident for peaceful sit-in demanding a full federal Environmental Impact Statement for $3.8 billion project that could fast-track fracking
CUMBERLAND—A local Unitarian minister and three western Maryland residents were arrested just before noon today outside the Allegany County Courthouse in Cumberland for peacefully protesting Virginia-based Dominion Resources' plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. The protesters blocked the courthouse entrance to demand justice in the controversial federal handling of the massive $3.8 billion project, which would take nearly a billion cubic feet of gas per day from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it on the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to Asia.
"I am here today as both a citizen of this beautiful state and as a minister deeply concerned that the proposed Cove Point gas export facility would take us in exactly the wrong direction," said Reverend Terence Ellen, a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Greater Cumberland. "It is inconceivable to me that a project so huge and so potentially harmful to our health and welfare would not even receive a full Environmental Impact Statement. We're sitting in today because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is failing to serve the public."
Joining Rev. Ellen were three young people, including two native residents of Cumberland who are students at Frostburg University and a local Frostburg resident who has seen the impacts of fracking elsewhere. With signs reading "Don't Bring Fracking to W. Maryland" and "This Is Our Public Comment!" they specifically called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conduct a full and fair Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Cove Point. They also appealed to Governor Martin O'Malley and members of Congress to break their silence and join them in demanding this most rigorous and participatory type of environmental review.
As key state permit hearing begins, grassroots activists from across Maryland march around the Public Service Commission headquarters
Protesters appeal to Governor O’Malley, Senators Cardin and Mikulski to demand a full federal environmental impact review
BALTIMORE—Today, as a key state permit hearing began in downtown Baltimore, activists from every corner of Maryland and from across the Mid-Atlantic marched from a nearby plaza to the doorstep of the Public Service Commission to send one clear message to state leaders: “Stop Cove Point.” This controversial $3.8 billion 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.
See photos from Thursday's rally at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chesapeakeclimate/sets/72157641279897563/
The 700-strong demonstration, estimated to be the largest environmental protest in Baltimore city history, united people whose land, homes and health are threatened by the new regionwide wave of harmful fracking, climate change pollution, and explosion-prone gas infrastructure that Dominion’s plan could trigger. Analysis shows that the process of drilling, piping, liquefying and exporting gas is as bad as—or worse—for the climate than burning coal. In fact, Cove Point would become the single biggest trigger of planet-heating pollution in the state of Maryland.
Rally participants literally carried their “Stop Cove Point” message to the Public Service Commission—marching a 100-foot-long gas pipeline prop emblazoned with those words around the agency’s headquarters. Inside, attorneys representing environmental groups testified against Dominion’s application for a permit to build a 130-megawatt gas-fired “liquefaction” complex at Cove Point. By every measure—including raising prices for ratepayers, impacting air and water, and degrading local quality of life—they argued that Dominion’s plan would overwhelmingly benefit the gas industry at the expense of Maryland’s economy and environment.
Demonstrators also called for leadership, not more silence, from Maryland’s elected officials, especially Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski. Speakers called on them to ensure that federal regulators give the people of Maryland the full and customary Environmental Impact Statement typically required for a project of Cove Point's size and scope—the type of review backed by 81 percent of Maryland voters in a recent poll.
Independent study provides lawmakers and the public with first Maryland-specific risk assessment, coming on the heels of violent gas well explosion in PA
Advocates call on the General Assembly to pass SB 745 to ensure that communities get the facts and legislators have a say in state drilling decision
ANNAPOLIS—In the wake of a gas well explosion and fire in nearby Pennsylvania that injured one worker and left another still missing, Maryland community and environmental groups released a study today showing that allowing controversial hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for gas in the Free State would expose communities’ air, water and land to high levels of risk.
The study, conducted by experts at one of the world’s leading independent environmental consultancies, used Maryland-specific data to examine ten major drilling impact areas—including water use, water contamination, air pollution, traffic, noise, biodiversity, land use and visual scarring—across every stage of the drilling process. In nine of ten categories, Maryland received a “high” or “very high” cumulative risk grade, with earthquake risks receiving the only “low” classification. (View the full study here. Download a summary of key findings and methodology here.)
Environmental litigation prevails, local coal ash communities to gain some protection
Washington, D.C. – Late yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to finalize first-ever federal regulations for the disposal of coal ash by December 19, 2014, according to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by environmental and public health groups and a Native American tribe. The settlement does not dictate the content of the final regulation, but it confirms that the agency will finalize a rule by a date certain after years of delay.
A copy of the settlement can be found here: http://earthjustice.org/documents/legal-document/pdf/coal-ash-consent-decree
The settlement is in response to a lawsuit brought in 2012 by Earthjustice on behalf of Appalachian Voices (NC); Chesapeake Climate Action Network (MD); Environmental Integrity Project (DC, PA); Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KY); Moapa Band of Paiutes (NV); Montana Environmental Information Center (MT); Physicians for Social Responsibility (DC); Prairie Rivers Network (IL); Sierra Club (CA); Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (eight southeast states); and Western North Carolina Alliance (NC).
Responding to grassroots backlash, a bipartisan House majority joins the Senate in voting to repeal the arbitrary $64 tax on fuel-efficient vehicles
RICHMOND— On Thursday, the Virginia House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly for legislation (HB 975) to repeal the hybrid car tax. The bipartisan 89-9 vote follows a 35-3 vote in the Senate earlier this week, all but ensuring that the repeal legislation will become law as Governor McAuliffe has committed to signing it.
CCAN applauds 10-5 Finance Committee vote as a win for the environment and climate change solutions in Richmond
RICHMOND--This morning the Senate Finance Committee voted 10-5 across party lines to advance legislation to repeal the hybrid car tax (SB 127). Dawone Robinson, Virginia Policy Coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, issued the following statement:
Sierra Club legal case challenging Dominion Resources brings activists from across Maryland in show of support
100 demonstrators gather with placards to ask appeals court for justice as Dominion seeks to fast-track massive fossil fuel export facility on the Chesapeake Bay
ANNAPOLIS—Demonstrators from across Maryland gathered at the steps of an Annapolis courthouse Wednesday to support the Sierra Club in a landmark case that could determine the long-term scope and size of gas "fracking" in Maryland and surrounding states. As demonstrators waved placards and held banners outside, oral arguments began inside the courthouse on the Sierra Club's case challenging Dominion Resources' plan to export natural gas to Asia through the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland Sierra Club director Josh Tulkin told demonstrators that Dominion, in proposing a $3.8 billion plant in Calvert County to liquefy and export gas from as far away as Ohio, is breaking an explicit and pre-existing legal agreement with the environmental group. That agreement gives the Sierra Club the ability to reject any significant changes to the purpose or "footprint" of the company's existing facility that presently only imports liquefied natural gas (LNG) from overseas. The facility is located at Cove Point in southern Calvert County.
As key August deadline looms, Western MD landowners and environmental leaders call passage of statutory protections imperative this year
Rally-goers display map of gas basins at risk of being fracked across MD, including just south of Annapolis, to underscore the statewide threat
ANNAPOLIS—More than 100 grassroots supporters of fracking moratorium legislation rallied across from the State House in Annapolis on Wednesday to declare 2014 a make-or-break year for General Assembly passage of statutory drilling protections. Western Maryland and statewide environmental leaders warned that, with Governor O'Malley's three-year executive order halting drilling permits set to expire in August, the decision as to whether or not to frack in Maryland could be made shortly thereafter—regardless of the results of as-yet-incomplete risk studies or the will of the General Assembly.
Rally-goers underscored these stakes by asking arriving lawmakers if they were prepared to sign a "waiver" ceding their "right to protect my constituents from the dangerous impacts of fracking." Activists, who travelled to Annapolis from as far afield as western Maryland, Frederick, Baltimore, the DC suburbs, and southern Maryland, also displayed a large map of the five gas basins stretching statewide that are at risk of being fracked. Over the border in Virginia, a Texas-based gas company has already declared its intent to begin fracking in the Taylorsville basin—which extends underneath Charles, Prince George's, Calvert, St. Mary's and Anne Arundel counties—within the next 18 months.