Pipeline Opponents Announce Boycott of Hogan Administration’s Flawed Review Process for the “Potomac Pipeline” Carrying Fracked Gas

Hogan Administration appears ready to hand over to Trump officials the environmental review process for TransCanada’s dangerous pipeline through Maryland.

In first action of its kind under Governor Hogan, key environmental groups — including Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Potomac Riverkeeper and others — to boycott flawed regulatory process

ANNAPOLIS, MD- Today, a coalition of environmental organizations released a letter announcing they will boycott Governor Hogan’s review process for the proposed “Potomac Pipeline” for fracked gas.

The letter explained how the Hogan Administration is “failing to take adequate protective measures” regarding the controversial Potomac Pipeline, officially known as the Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project, a project of TransCanada. The pipeline would transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia through Maryland underneath the Potomac River. Watch the Facebook Live stream here.

The Administration has to-date failed to announce that it will do its own careful review of the pipeline as it passes through the state and under the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. The pipeline could potentially affect the drinking water for 6 million people in the region. Unless the Hogan Administration immediately launches its own “401 Certification” process that looks cumulatively at the impacts to Maryland’s water from this pipeline, the Governor will be handing over key regulatory powers to the Trump Administration.

“Hogan would rather trust the Trump administration than listen to his own constituents,” said Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We have asked the Governor for months to hold a transparent process with full citizen input on all major water quality issues, and he simply refuses. We have been left no choice but to boycott his dangerous and inadequate regulatory process, and ask all Marylanders to join us in demanding the Governor protect our drinking water.”

Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (D-20) stated: “Maryland legislators stood up against fracking last year by passing a permanent ban. Now, TransCanada wants to push fracking through the backdoor with this fracked-gas pipeline. We’re going to stand up again and protect our communities against this reckless and unnecessary project.”

Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18) stated: “We can’t allow Trump officials to take over protecting our state from the dangers of fracked-gas pipelines — it would be like asking the fox to protect the henhouse. It’s time to listen to the people who are most directly impacted, who don’t want this pipeline running through their backyards and poisoning their water. We need to put our family, friends and neighbors first and reject the Potomac Pipeline, and instead focus on creating 21st century clean energy jobs.”

For months, environmental groups have been asking Hogan’s Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct an individual water certification process — a power granted to states under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. An individual 401 process is the state’s opportunity to look at the pipeline in a holistic way and consider impacts such as erosion and sediment from tree clearing, impacts to drinking water resources, and impacts to karst geology that could harm the environment and health of communities across the region.  This process would allow for a formal public comment period and more detailed hearings on this matter. Despite multiple requests from the public, elected officials, and numerous impacted towns and counties, the Hogan Administration continues to rely on Trump-appointed regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers to review potential impacts from the fracked-gas pipeline project.

In recent weeks, the Montgomery County Council, Boonsboro Town Council and D.C. Council have sent letters asking Governor Hogan to reject the pipeline, while the Washington County Board of Commissioners sent a letter expressing concerns about the pipeline and asking him to “protect drinking water” and postpone approval for the pipeline until its dangers are addressed.

“For the past nine months, MDE has given the public incomplete and inconsistent information on how the Potomac Pipeline would be regulated,” said Katlyn Clark, Legal Fellow at Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “We have explained, through every means possible, our concerns and recommended actions, and we have been ignored. It’s past time for MDE and Governor Hogan to acknowledge the serious and potentially-devastating impacts of the Potomac Pipeline and use its authority to stop the pipeline, thereby protecting the drinking water of millions.”

“The state of Maryland rose up in unity to stop fracking this spring,” Brooke Harper, Environmental Justice Chair of the NAACP Maryland State Conference and Maryland Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated. “But now TransCanada wants to threaten our communities with fracked-gas infrastructure. Governor Hogan cannot allow this to happen. We will rise up again and again until this pipeline has been stopped.”

“By not doing a full environmental impact statement, Governor Hogan is breaking his promise to keep Marylanders safe from the threat of fracking,” said Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer, Food & Water Watch. “He’s positioning himself to approve TransCanada’s fracked-gas pipeline and thus endangering a critical water supply and millions of Marylanders. We won’t let him endanger our state without a fight.”

“MDE and this administration have failed to assess all the risks to the Potomac River and our drinking water by not including the Mountaineer Gas portion of this pipeline project in their review,” said Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper.

“MDE is trying to pass on their responsibility of completing a 401 water certification to the Army Corp of Engineers, thus NOT doing its job,” said Laura Steepleton, Organizer at Eastern Panhandle Protectors. “The department has ignored the factual risks of running pipelines through karst geology, and has remained silent when many organizations and thousands of residents requested that FERC do a full Environmental Impact Statement for the Potomac Pipeline. Marylanders and West Virginians are standing together to demand that MDE do its job!”

“As it stands, without a full and proper review and analysis of the environmental impact of this pipeline, MDE is failing to uphold its responsibility to all Marylanders,” said David Smedick, Policy Director for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We all depend on MDE to protect our water, air, and health, now and for future generations. Enabling new fossil fuel infrastructure places all Marylanders at risk and blatantly contradicts our goals to be a leader on climate action.”

The letter was signed by Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Potomac Riverkeeper Network; Food & Water Watch; Maryland Sierra Club; Waterkeepers Chesapeake; Frack Free Frostburg; Eastern Panhandle Protectors; Maryland Environmental Health Network; Women’s Action Coalition of Greater Allegany County; Rachel Carson Council; Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association; Savage River Watershed Association; and Montgomery Countryside Alliance.

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