Columbia Gas Takes Shocking and Unprecedented Attempt to Force “Potomac Pipeline” Through Maryland State Land

CCAN: “Such a Corporate Takeover of the Maryland’s Public Land has Never Been Attempted Before”

HANCOCK, MD — Yesterday, Columbia Gas filed a complaint in condemnation for the right-of-way to build a highly controversial fracked-gas pipeline underneath the Western Maryland Rail/Trail. Known as the “Potomac Pipeline,” this pipeline would drill under the Potomac River and put the drinking water of 6 million people at risk. In January, the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously rejected this right-of-way easement for the project, which is proposed by a subsidiary of notorious energy company TransCanada.

The Board of Public Works, which includes Governor Larry Hogan, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, is responsible for protecting Maryland’s “public works,” including state-owned land. It rejected TransCanada’s proposal in January citing the fact that Maryland stood to bear no benefits of the pipeline and all of the harm. The company is now attempting to seize the land through eminent domain proceedings in federal court. To our knowledge, no pipeline company has ever tried to condemn state-owned land in Maryland.

Statement from Brooke Harper, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

“We didn’t expect Columbia Gas to give up on building the unnecessary and harmful Potomac Pipeline, but we never expected for them to condemn Maryland’s own land through eminent domain proceedings in federal court. As far as we know, such a corporate takeover of Maryland’s public land has never been attempted before.

“This is an arrogant overreach by a company — owned by Canadian energy giant TransCanada — desperate to rake in shareholder profits while locking the region into decades of reliance on fossil fuels.”

Statement from Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper:

“We strongly oppose Columbia Gas’ unprecedented attack on Maryland’s inherent, sovereign authority to manage state parkland for the public’s benefit. It is outrageous that a Texas pipeline company wants to dictate to the State of Maryland where and when it will build a private gas pipeline that provides no benefit and will only endanger Maryland’s natural resources and communities. The risk to the Potomac River and downstream drinking water supplies is clear, and was echoed in the Board of Public Works’ unanimous vote to deny Columbia Gas access to state property for its ill fated pipeline. Maryland state lands are held in trust for the public to use and enjoy, not for private pipeline companies to despoil.”

Statement from Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club:

“We’re not surprised that TransCanada is once again trying to put their profits over the safety of our communities, so I’m sure they won’t be surprised to see Marylanders fighting them again. We stopped this zombie pipeline once before and we’ll do it again.”

 

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About the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

About the Sierra Club:

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About the Potomac Riverkeeper Network:

Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with three regional Waterkeeper branches: Potomac Riverkeeper, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and Shenandoah Riverkeeper. Our mission is to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams. We stop pollution to promote safe drinking water, protect healthy habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment. For more information, visit http://www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org.

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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.