Cumberland Times-News

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November 23, 2013

Rally rejects fracking, gas export terminal

Speakers link Cove Point project to Marcellus Shale drilling in Western Maryland

CUMBERLAND — Speakers during the local stop in a statewide series of town hall meetings against a planned $3.8 billion gas export terminal in Cove Point said the project will bring further pressure to develop natural gas in Western Maryland. Speakers also said the planned natural gas terminal would move state policy away from a current emphasis on clean energy.

Cumberland’s stop for the meetings was Wednesday at the New Embassy Theatre, where about 50 people showed up.

Cove Point is in Calvert County on the Chesapeake Bay. The Cove Point project was linked to fracking by speakers and by informational material distributed to participants.

“If approved, the Cove Point export facility would provide a strong economic incentive for companies to expand fracking across our region, including in Maryland, where no drilling has yet occurred. In other states, the expansion of fracking has caused drinking water contamination, air pollution, illnesses and even earthquakes,” according to the informational material.

“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.

Jobs associated with the project and fracking “are a false promise here and a false promise for Calvert County,” 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.

CCAN’s Web site is at: http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/.

Dominion’s perspective on Cover Point can be found at: https://www.dom.com/business/gas-transmission/cove-point/index.jsp.

Matthew Bieniek can be contacted at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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