A coalition of concerned environmentalists and Calvert County residents descended upon downtown Baltimore today to make a point: They don't want a liquified natural gas transport facility in their backyard.
That backyard is the Chesapeake Bay, where Virginia-based Dominion Resources already operates an LNG facility at Cove Point, in the Chesapeake Bay near Lusby, MD. The company wishes to export natural gas because the price has dropped domestically, thanks to the natural-gas boom in the Marcellus Shale and other places. Companies can make lots of money exporting the gas to countries like India and China.
Earlier this month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave conditional approval to the facility. But activists say it's not over yet. They are urging Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to oppose the facility. They're appealing to O'Malley's desire to be green - he has been an active participant on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is focused on reducing greenhouse emissions and investing in wind energy and other green technologies. exporting liquified natural gas is an energy-intensive process, and along the way there is danger of fuel spills and other mishaps that can pollute the Bay. They also worry that the facility would increase the demand for gas production elsewhere in the watershed, destroying forestland and hurting streams.
Today, the group demonstrated outside the Public Service Commission, whose five members are appointed by the state's governor. The commission will have a say on whether the project goes forward. The commission is expected to hold hearings on the matter next year.
They can expect to hear from a lot of constituents. Among them is Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman.
“The new gas lines, toxic chemicals, forest destruction and tanker traffic involved in Dominion’s export facility will risk the health and quality of life of communities along the Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River,” Tutman said at the event. “We’re asking Governor O’Malley to ensure a full and rigorous review of the consequences of this project. Our safety shouldn’t be sacrificed just so Dominion can sell gas to the highest overseas bidders.”
Added Calvert County waterman Pete Ide: “Those of us who depend on the Chesapeake Bay for our livelihoods deserve to have a say in this decision. I’ve witnessed firsthand how these massive LNG tankers spew clouds of pollution, contaminating the air in their path. We need a full accounting of the long-term economic and environmental harm that could come if Dominion turns the Bay into a channel for its export profits."