‘Stop Cove Point’ Coalition Delivers Over 40,000 Public Comments to MD Regulators

Cove Point PSC Comment Delivery

‘Stop Cove Point’ Coalition Delivers Over 40,000 Public Comments Urging MD Regulators to Reject Fracked Gas Export Facility

On deadline for public input, health, faith, environmental, student, and community leaders hand-deliver record number of comments to Public Service Commission headquarters

Opponents warn Cove Point plan would cause rising heating bills, pollution and climate change costs—all to boost the gas industry’s bottom line

BALTIMORE—Health, faith, environmental, community and business leaders converged in Baltimore this morning to hand-deliver a record 40,000 public comments urging the Maryland Public Service Commission to reject a controversial liquefied natural gas export facility proposed at Cove Point in southern Maryland. Today is the final day for public input on a key state-level permit that Virginia-based Dominion Resources needs to construct the Cove Point facility, which would take gas piped from fracking wells across Appalachia, liquefy it along the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to Asia.

The activists carried a giant replica of a rising heating bill “courtesy of Dominion,” along with boxes containing over 40,000 comments to the Public Service Commission headquarters. The comments were collected by 19 community, regional and national groups, from Lusby-based Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community to western Maryland-based Citizen Shale to Environmental Action and CREDO. At a press conference preceding the delivery, speakers outlined the overwhelming case that Dominion’s proposal would harm the “public interest”—which is the basic criterion the PSC must consider.

Activists cited studies commissioned by Dominion and the Department of Energy that confirm exporting gas from Cove Point would raise energy costs and lower real wages at home—ultimately harming every sector of the economy except the gas industry and hitting low-income, elderly and other vulnerable Marylanders especially hard. The proposed 130-megawatt gas-fired power plant and liquefaction facility that Dominion is seeking the PSC’s permission to build would force the public to bear the costs of rising heating bills, worsening climate change, increased smog pollution, and degraded quality of life in Calvert County—all in exchange for zero electricity to Maryland’s grid. The Public Service Commission must rule on Dominion’s application by May 30, 2014.

Groups contributing to the public comment delivery include: Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizen Shale, CREDO, Earthworks, Environmental Action, Food & Water Watch, Green America, HoCo Climate Change, Interfaith Power & Light (MD.DC.NoVA), Maryland Environmental Health Network, Maryland Sierra Club, Maryland Student Climate Coalition, Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community, Oil Change International, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and 350.org.

Statements from groups and community leaders delivering comments to the Public Service Commission today included:

Zack Malitz, CREDO’s campaign manager: “If Gov. O’Malley lets the Cove Point project go through, he will be responsible for unleashing a massive expansion of fracking and exposing Marylanders to huge risks from the project. Gov. O’Malley must stand up to the fracking industry and reject this dangerous project.”

Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake: “Chesapeake communities depend on the Bay and local rivers for food, livelihood and way of life – all of which are threatened by the substantial increase in tanker traffic, and dumping of billions of gallons of wastewater into this large and complex estuary. The only ones who stand to benefit from this project are the gas companies. Everyone else—from Bay fisherman to residents living downstream from fracking fields—will suffer.”

Sue Allison, Lusby mother and member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community: “I’m a mother raising two daughters within 2,200 feet from the single containment LNG storage tanks at the Cove Point terminal. I believe that the PSC decision could be a matter of life or death for the families in my neighborhood, given the catastrophic events that took place at an Algerian LNG export facility in 2004 and the terrible events at an LNG facility in Plymouth, Washington on Monday. It is unimaginable that the PSC would consider approving a power station for the first LNG export facility to ever to be built in a residential area—within 4,500 feet of about 360 homes and next door to a public park.”

Fran Teplitz, Policy Director of Green America, which released a letter yesterday with the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council from 50 Maryland businesses urging the PSC to reject the Cove Point project: “Maryland business leaders and associations realize that our state’s economic vitality going forward depends on our development of clean energy. The Cove Point LNG facility is a threat to human and environmental health while producing far fewer jobs than renewable energy can.”

Heather Kangas, a Baltimore resident and student at the University of Maryland School of Social Work: “As a social work student with a fixed income, higher gas prices will impact my budget while Dominion continues to profit from dirty energy. The clients I work with as a social worker will also face a financial burden and hardship.”

Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director for Food & Water Watch: “The proposed Cove Point gas export facility is an economic and environmental disaster waiting to happen. The ramifications of this project will not only be regional. The social, environmental, and economic ramifications of this project will have a domino effect nationally that will be a burden to future generations of Americans.”

Gina Angiola, Board Member, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility: “The Cove Point LNG facility is a direct threat to the health of residents living nearby due to the additional air pollution it will create, the additional strain it will place on water supplies, and the potential for fires, explosions, and other catastrophic events—as just occurred Monday at a natural gas storage facility in Washington state. Most critically, it will contribute further to climate change, the biggest public health threat we face. For the health and well-being of Maryland residents, we urge the MD Public Service Commission to deny Dominion’s permit for this project.”

Chiquita Younger, a Lusby native and Program Associate at Interfaith Power & Light (MD.DC.NoVA): “Congregations across Maryland feel called to protect our climate and our water, so they have sent in comments opposing Dominion’s plans to build a major climate polluter that will export fracked gas. But I’m here to deliver their messages today to the Public Service Commission myself because, for me, this is personal. I grew up in Lusby, and my family has deep roots here. I’m here to speak out for my niece, my sister, my mother, my grandmother, and all those in Calvert County who have not been able to get their questions answered about the pollution Cove Point will cause and the dangers it poses to their neighborhoods.”

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “The Public Service Commission has all the evidence it needs and, as shown today, a popular mandate to reject Dominion’s Cove Point application. The more than 38,000 public comments submitted today help to shine a bright light on clear facts Dominion would rather keep hidden, namely that their plan promises to sacrifice our climate, our economy and our environment to let an already rich industry get richer.”

View a summary of the economic, environmental and quality of life case against a PSC permit for Cove Point.

View the full post-hearing brief submitted to the PSC by the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Contact:
Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, 717-439-0346 (cell), kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org

###