Environmental and community groups are bitterly denouncing FERC decision to approve permits for the LNG export facility proposed at Cove Point in southern Maryland.
They said FERC’s decision defies the facts that the massive facility, proposed by Dominion Resources, will incentivize environmental damage from fracking across the mid-Atlantic region and, according to federal data, would likely contribute more to global warming over the next two decades than if Asian countries burned their own coal.
Groups that have intervened in the FERC case emphasized that they are assessing issues on which to file a motion for rehearing—a necessary step before appeal. They vowed to continue the fight to protect communities across Maryland and the region from the potentially unprecedented pollution and safety risks Dominion’s Cove Point project would trigger.
They also called the Cove Point decision a simultaneous stain on the records of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Congressman Steny Hoyer and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, who failed to substantively challenge FERC’s reckless process, including the agency’s refusal to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement.
The Dominion Cove Point project would take gas from fracking wells across Appalachia and liquefy it along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay for export to Asia.
“The project would be the first LNG export facility ever built so close to so many homes, the first built in close proximity to Marcellus Shale fracking operations, and a potential trigger of more global warming pollution than all seven of Maryland’s existing coal-fired power plants combined,” say the environmental and community leaders.
“Yet, in its final order, FERC affirmed its highly limited Environmental Assessment, which omitted credible analysis of the project’s lifecycle global warming pollution, potentially catastrophic threat to hundreds of nearby residents, pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and risk to the critically endangered right whale, along with all the pollution associated with driving demand for upstream fracking and fracked gas infrastructure,” according to their statement.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Earthjustice, the nonprofit law organization that has been representing the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Patuxent Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club are poised to petition FERC and potentially to sue the agency to challenge the environmental review.
A coalition of state, national and community groups opposing the project submitted more than 150,000 comments to FERC by the June public comment deadline. In mid-July, more than 1,000 people marched on FERC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters calling on the agency to halt approvals of all LNG export projects, including the Dominion Cove Point facility, followed the next day by a sit-in that led to 25 arrests.
Press Release, October 1, 2014; Image: John H. Gray, Earthjustice.org