Columbia Gas’s Potomac Pipeline Threatens Water, Health, Communities, and Climate

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Shepherdstown, WV — Today, hundreds of clean water activists joined hands across the Potomac River to protest plans by Columbia Gas to revive a fracked gas pipeline project that has already been rejected by the state of Maryland. Attendees at Sunday’s event stood hand-in-hand on the James Rumsey Bridge, which spans the Potomac River, the river the pipeline would cross, threatening the drinking water for six million people. Activists chanted anti-pipeline slogans and threw flowers over the bridge into the river.

Construction of fracked gas pipelines threatens water quality because destabilization of the soil leads to runoff and sediment entering waterways, which pollutes them and can kill fish and wildlife. Construction crews sometimes also release drilling fluid into waterways, threatening water quality at the site and downstream. In addition to the threats they pose to clean water, gas pipelines can explode, causing serious injuries and even death. The methane gas they carry leaks along the way, and is linked to breathing problems, premature births, and even cancer. Methane is also a dangerous greenhouse gas, 87 times more potent than carbon at trapping heat over its first twenty years in the atmosphere.

In response, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Director Mary Anne Hitt released the following statement:

“We have said over and over again that we don’t want fracking, we don’t want fracked gas, and we certainly don’t want Columbia Gas’s dirty, dangerous fracked gas Potomac Pipeline. It’s been rejected by residents, by politicians, and by the courts, and it’s past time Columbia gets the hint. The Sierra Club is proud to join hands across the Potomac to show Columbia Gas they should once and for all stop trying to resuscitate this zombie pipeline.”

Brent Walls, Potomac Riverkeeper Network:

“This has been a three year long battle against Columbia Gas. We have made a lot of great strides and garnered the support of thousands of people in communities, hundreds of elected officials and this event shows the strength of our movement and that we won’t back down.”

Brooke Harper,

“On the heels of the climate strikes, where millions mobilized across the globe, we feel the need to continue to answer the cry of the youth to stop fossil fuels. We are here today to show our united opposition to the Potomac Pipeline and its harm to the community.”

Benita Keller, Eastern Panhandle Green Coalition:

“Eastern Panhandle Green Coalition is honored to stand in unity and to hold hands with all the people who are fighting the Potomac Pipeline, Rockwool, and all that threatens our land, our air, our water.” 

Mary Mattlage, Eastern Panhandle Protectors:

“To risk the health and safety of our residents and to destroy a thriving agricultural and tourist industry and competitive economy in favor of toxic industry and an obsolete and dangerous infrastructure is shortsighted and frankly, stupid.”

Paula Jean Swearingen, Climate & Workers Rights Activist:

“We’ve seen this type of exploitation far too often in the southern coalfields. A monopoly comes in that feeds the pockets of local politicians. It exploits and risks destroying our community and when it has sucked out every ounce of profit it can they pack up and leave the community with the damage. As a coal miner’s daughter our water ran black and purple and orange. I have a grandchild on the way – and I am not going to leave this world to the coal barons, pipeline profiteers, or insurance companies who trade lives and destroy the world for profit.”


Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or
Zack Gerdes, (240) 764-5402 or

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