White Paper: Why the Eastern Shore Pipelines are a Bad Investment for Maryland

The Eastern Shore of Maryland–ground zero for sea-level rise caused by global warming–is facing two proposed gas pipelines. We are  concerned that expanding gas infrastructure to the area is an expensive, short-sighted option for the region. While studies have shown that there are cheaper, viable alternatives to gas, including electrification and geothermal energy, the State of Maryland didn’t consider any of these options. Instead, it only requested applications for a gas pipeline to supply gas to two state-run facilities.

The economics of gas are faltering, with hundreds of gas companies expected to declare bankruptcy by the end of next year. These bankruptcies, combined with Maryland’s commitment to tackling climate change through electrification of buildings, raises concerns that investing in new gas infrastructure will lock ratepayers into paying for decades for a product that will not be viable for that long. 

This new white paper, prepared by CCAN with help from our partners at the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Wicomico Environmental Trust, outlines our concerns about the economics of these pipeline projects, details how Maryland has cheaper, cleaner options, and also debunks the promise of “renewable” natural gas.

Through a Newcomer’s Eyes: Grounding Myself in People and Place Along the Mountain Valley Pipeline Route

By Elle de la Cancela

Maury called me throughout the whole drive over.

It was welcomed, as I trekked my way through the mountains and into Monroe County, West Virginia. He told me where to stop for cheap gas, which snacks I should grab, and the turns I would take down gravel roads to get to Sweet Springs. I knew nothing of the area. I had only just moved from New York to Richmond three weeks earlier — my car was still heavy from the last of my things. 

I was there to tour the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Told that my new position with CCAN would include fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, I knew I had to get a handle on the project and get in touch with the local resistance fighters. I had spent the week prior preparing myself, planning the logistics and buying supplies. But I was overwhelmed with what I actually witnessed. The contrast between the kind, caring folks I met and the sheer negligence of a company hell-bent on delivering unneeded fracked gas through farms, backyards, and public land was dizzying.

 

Maury Johnson in front of the right-of-way by his property

I arrived at Sweet Springs Resort, currently non-functioning but with a deep history. Maury Johnson acted as my tour guide these first few days. An expert in the area, he has filed over 180 violations (of sediment and erosion control, incorrect storage, among others) caused by the pipeline he has personally identified along the route. He explained that Sweet Springs Resort, named for the hot springs nearby, was a hotel for a period of time and the current property owner planned to restore it. When I inquired further into the past, he said that this spring originally belonged to native peoples (mostly likely historical Eastern Sioux lands of the Yesa Confederacy, but he never specified), and that there had been a massacre to acquire the land. This was an orienting way to start my trip: the aggressive reminder that we are all on stolen land. As I interacted with those whose properties were taken through eminent domain to build the pipeline, I remembered the long history of abuse and land theft. 

Before we began our destruction tour, Maury pointed out three different water bottling plants and a few other springs resorts, touting that Peters Mountain has some of the best water in the world. Water is not just an attraction, but a source of manufacturing and a major economic driver. The pipeline’s presence threatens that. We first must consider the runoff, erosion and sediment deposited in this karst zone (meaning that there are underwater rivers and caves throughout the region) from construction alone. And keep in mind that with every project there is a possibility of leakage, which would poison the water in the whole region. This is not just folks’ drinking water and health we’re talking about (which should be reason enough to halt the project), but their livelihoods. 

We drove in our separate SUVs, communicating by walkie talkie because of COVID concerns and its rising rates in the county. Maury stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture of a box turtle (they’re doing a study, he informed me) and safely delivered it to the other side. I can think of no better way to describe the folks in this fight — attentive and driven to preserve life. As we pulled up to the right-of-way at Pence Springs, my heart sunk. Lush green hills were stripped down to a 125-foot clearing. Along the edges of the stream were splitweed and ironweed, yellows and purples dotting the water before it opened up to a massive treeless zone. Here the pipe had already been put in the ground. It hasn’t held any gas and never will, if we have anything to do with it.

Other areas I came across were not nearly as “finished.” While MVP claims that they are 92% done, I cannot say I saw even half of that during my time. At only a few locations did I see the yellow topped markers indicating that the pipe was in the ground. Most of the route was vast dead zones. In the most “completed” areas, pipe was welded and staged with no trench to be seen. In other areas, the pipe wasn’t even staged — segmented and piled, left out to bake in the sun for years since they were placed there. These pipes and their coating aren’t supposed to sit out for more than one year, but I saw some dated 2017. 

Pipe dated 2017

In other areas, it seemed utterly uncleared. Because of the stop work orders in place (status uncertain due to the recent biological opinion), several sections in Giles County had time to regrow for the past two years. Nature is resilient; the ecosystem in these areas will restore itself. As long as we stop gas from ever entering these pipes, there is a chance to bring these areas back.

During my time on the route, I was able to visit the Yellow Finch Tree Sit as they marked their two-year anniversary. The right-of-way here looked particularly rotten —  horrible, steep, brown, with big white tarps over it — a band-aid to control MVP’s numerous erosion violations. It looked like a black diamond ski slope with its steep drop-offs, but far wider than any expert run would be. I hiked up a logging road, imagining what a terrible sight it must have been for those at camp as thousands of trees like the ones they were sitting in were trucked out. With a wave of death snaking through the hills in one direction, the other view held a hand-felled cut, leading right up to a remaining stand of trees on the route. From this height, I could see a little bit of white amidst the canopy — a poster draped over one of the sits. As gut-wrenching as it was to see all of that barren land, this little section imbued some much-needed hope in me. I hiked down to get a look at the sits from below. 

There were three platforms about fifty feet up in the trees. They had buckets and pulley systems, banners and tarps. Beneath them were big umbrella-like barriers to prevent anyone from climbing up. MVP had only sent one surveyor who had climbed once – to spike a tree, killing it, where a sitter’s platform was staged. These folks are willing to put their bodies on the line and break the law for what they know is right. It reminded me of other fights against injustice, and the presumed “illegality” of human bodies when they are in certain spaces. Social justice and environmental justice are joined in so many ways — like how climate refugees will only increase with extreme weather

Anniversary day was a weird one – celebratory for the staying power of the Yellow Finch tree-sitters — but deeply tired. Yellow Finch hasn’t had many visitors other than stalwart suppliers due to COVID-19, but last weekend about ten of us visitors sat apart from each other in the dirt, trying to make the most of it. Folks walked around drinking beer and eating cakes with antifascist slogans. While morale was high that day, there was the explicit hope that we all wouldn’t be there next year. These tree-sitters want to go home, to not have to face another winter out here in the cold. In full organizer mode, I asked what I could do to help – did they need material resources, what sorts of media should I send their way, etc. At one point, I received a blank stare: “Just stop the pipeline.” It was a sobering moment. The tree sits are a stalling method for the tedious legal, policy, and media work – for those of us who are down here safely on land to do our jobs and stop this pipeline from ever being completed. We all have our place in this fight; we too have a vital part to play.

My trip was coming to a close around Labor Day, which I spent with Russell Chisholm, the leader of a coalition of local “preserve” groups called POWHR. I drove into the Newport Village Green to meet him, welcomed by a sign stating “You are now entering the blast zone.” Unlike my experiences with Maury, we didn’t visit the private landowners affected, but instead travelled along the Forest Service land that had been permitted for construction. The thought of this alone is unsettling — a forest that is supposed to serve the public good and is highly frequented by campers is now zoned to have a massive 42-in pipeline running through it. Forty-two inches is a huge diameter: I stood next to these wide tunnels, and realized I could easily crawl inside.

We approached the right-of-way through the Jefferson National Forest, a steep path that included several hard right angles. As we pulled in, we saw that posted up on a tree were notices that this area — of public land — was off-limits due to construction. To circumvent our inability to walk the site, Russell brought out a drone — a very helpful tool in catching when and where construction begins again. That day it showed me a longer stretch than I could imagine — a trail of brown bobbing over ridges through the otherwise verdant forest. The aerial view from the drone showed me the magnitude of this project — of how much has gone to waste when the MVP is cancelled like the long-fought Atlantic Coast Pipeline. 

There are countless other horror stories I could share: of retirement dream homes built from scratch t on old family property that was completely bisected by the pipeline; of flower beds outside kitchen windows torn up for an easement less than 100 feet away; of a sinkhole caused by boring into CARST zones near a couple’s chicken coops; of an organic farm that will disappear if the pipe is filled with gas. I have the happier stories, as well: of posters, walls and cars painted in anti-pipeline slogans; the jokes and onion rings among the trees; the fresh country eggs that were gifted to me for breakfast; the folks that opened their homes and their hearts to me as I slept in their backyards. 

I drove the three hours back to Richmond meditating on what I had seen. Resolved and directed, I am acutely aware of my place in the fight. You too have a place. 

The fight’s not over. September 11 is the FINAL DAY to submit comments to FERC to oppose the extension to the MVP. The deadline to file a comment is 5pm this evening. You can sign the CCAN public comment here or file a personal comment of your own through FERC with this toolkit

Please also donate to Appalachians Against Pipelines in support of the Yellow Finch Tree Sit, POWHR or CCAN. We will always be outspent by MVP — only we can fund our collective liberation.  

45,000+ Tell Dominion Energy: Fire Tom Farrell Immediately

Environmental advocates deliver massive nationwide petition to Dominion leadership, shareholders

RICHMOND, VA — In the wake of the high-profile cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, environmental organizations announced that more than 45,000 people signed a petition calling on Dominion Energy to fire Tom Farrell from the company. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE PETITION IN FULL

“Typically, when a CEO wastes billions of dollars of customers’ money, leads the company in an entirely wrong direction for years upon years, lets down Wall Street and shareholders, that person is let go,” Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated. “It’s long past time for Dominion’s board to give Tom Farrell a pink slip. It’s time to start a new era of truly responsible leadership in one of the country’s largest utilities.” 

Tom Farrell has served as CEO of this utility giant for more than a decade. He was the main cheerleader for the ACP when it was first proposed. He continued pushing for it even as a massive grassroots movement grew in opposition to it, drawing nationwide attention from the likes of former Vice President Al Gore, who called it a “reckless, racist ripoff.” The pipeline was held up for years through delays as permit after permit were thrown out for not holding up. Yet for years, under the leadership of Farrell, Dominion Energy claimed that the ACP was on track, that it would be a great boon for shareholders — which was its primary goal. Eventually, legal complications led to ballooning expenses which made clear that the financial argument didn’t hold up either. 

Dominion Energy recently announced that Farrell would step down as CEO and become Executive Chair of the Dominion Board of Directors. But the company’s new CEO will report to him, and Farrell will still have a heavy hand in planning Dominion’s future. Farrell himself said in response, “I’m not going anywhere.”

The petition states in part: “Farrell has proven himself to be an ill-equipped leader — a business model built on extraction, environmental injustice, and political corruption will not be tolerated.” It is supported by Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 198 methods, Climate Hawks Vote, Corporate Accountability, Daily Kos, and Friends of the Earth Action. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE PETITION IN FULL

Contact: Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Another Maryland Coal Plant Suddenly Retires

GenOn Files to Deactivate Another MD Coal-Fired Power Plant in 2021

Sudden announcement underscores the need for economic transition of Maryland’s remaining coal plantThursday, August 13, 2020Contact: 

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD –  Earlier this week, GenOn Holdings filed for deactivation of their two coal-fired power units at the Chalk Point Generating Station. The filing formally initiates the retirement process and establishes the retirement date for the two units on June 1, 2021. The announcement comes as GenOn’s Dickerson coal plant prepares to retire today. Chalk Point is one of six large power plants in Maryland that entered 2020 still burning expensive, climate-polluting coal and facing the unviability of fossil fuels in Maryland’s clean energy future leaving workers with uncertainty.  

In 2019, Maryland’s six coal plants generated less than 10% of the electricity sold in the state but emitted over half of the climate-disrupting carbon dioxide from in-state power plants. The coal industry is in a precipitous decline in today’s energy market because outdated dirty fuels have been unable to compete with less costly and cleaner energy sources like wind and solar. The decline has been further accelerated by the urgent need to address toxic pollution, public health, and the existential threat of the climate crisis. 

Despite the Chalk Point announcement, and GenOn’s closure of the coal-burning units at the Dickerson plant this month, Marylanders in Charles County will still have to contend with serious pollution from the GenOn-owned Morgantown coal plant. The Morgantown coal-fired power plant has faced a sharp decline in use, but its operation still harms Maryland’s air and water. GenOn, the out-of-state operator of these coal plants, has a history of failing to comply with environmental regulations and fighting against clean water protections.

The speed of the decline of the coal industry underscores the need for the state to develop a plan to support impacted communities and workers. 

The Senior Campaign Representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign David Smedick released the following statement in response

“Today’s announcement is yet another indicator that the coal industry is quickly dwindling and being outcompeted by affordable clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The two coal units at Chalk Point have been operating and emitting toxic pollution for over 50 years using out-dated technology. Now, impacted workers and communities that have been subjected to the environmental and public health risks caused by these units have less than 11 months to prepare for this impact without robust full fossil fuel transition support programs in place, all during a global pandemic and economic crisis. 

“Maryland urgently needs a statewide, coordinated plan to manage the inevitable transition off of dirty coal to clean energy. We need our state elected officials to bring together front line community members, impacted workers, local advocates, and industry leaders to construct a plan that advances the state beyond coal while providing ample support to our most impacted workers and communities.”

Delegate Kumar Barve (D17), Chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, released the following statement:

“The closing of the Dickerson and Chalk Points coal-fired power units are the latest in a long market trend away from burning dirty coal and towards efficient clean energy.  While the decline of the industry is happening at a frenetic pace, some of these plants remain online and are still dumping heavy pollution in Maryland’s air. The time is now to pass legislation to break free of coal and incentivize cleaner resources while investing in creation of family supporting jobs in technologies like energy storage and grid upgrades.   ”

Willie Flowers, President, NAACP Maryland State Conference, released the following statement:

“The closing of Chalk Point demonstrates the collective power of a community united. Many voices, including those of the NAACP, and other activists, were unified in demanding “a better way” to deliver clean energy to the State of Maryland.  The NAACP Maryland State Conference, is working with industry and political leaders to take this monumental win to the next level. Our efforts to transition to renewable energy will continue as we launch our Maryland Solar Equity Initiative 2020. We hope Marylanders will support us as we partner with civic, corporate and the legislature to provide job training and placement, homeowner education and legislative guidance to spread the good word about renewable energy.  These plant closings validate our efforts and inspire us to continue doing what we do. ”  

Senator Brian Feldman (D15), Vice-Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement:

“Given the conversations I am part of with legislative leaders and energy policy makers from around the country and even internationally, the closures of Dickerson in my Senate district and now Chalk Point, were not surprising.  As Maryland transitions off of coal, it is our responsibility to lead a conversation among all stakeholders to develop a thoughtful transition plan for the sake of the workers, ratepayers, and vulnerable residents who suffer from adverse health effects caused by these facilities.”

Senator Chris West (D42), released the following statement:

“The declining economics of coal are undeniable and the market has shown we have cleaner and more efficient ways to produce energy. As a parent, I’m also eager to address our climate crisis. The General Assembly must show leadership and set a firm date to move off coal-fired electricity and establish a plan that takes care of hard-working Marylanders and provides certainty for workers, local government and ratepayers during  this unavoidable transition.”

Leah Kelly, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, released the following statement:

“The coal units at Chalk Point have been operating for over 50 years, discharging toxic pollutants into waterways and releasing greenhouse gases and health-harming pollutants into the air every year. This dinosaur technology is no longer competitive with cleaner energy sources. Maryland needs to move forward as quickly as possible with industries like offshore wind that can provide clean energy and good-paying jobs.”

Janet Gingold, Chair & Lily Fountain, Vice Chair of Sierra Club Prince Georges County Group, released a statement: 

“GenOn’s decision to deactivate the Chalk Point coal units emphasizes the need for the state to step up to provide support for displaced workers to transition to jobs in the clean energy economy. We are looking forward to the decreased levels of air and water pollution, acid rain, greenhouse gases, and global and local climate change, as well as decreased rates of asthma, heart and lung diseases from the closure of the Chalk Point Coal Units.” 

Anne Havemann, General Counsel with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, released the following statement: 

“The coal industry is collapsing, and Maryland needs to prepare for it. Laying off workers in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis is not the way forward. Instead, let’s chart a path towards clean, renewable energy that provides jobs for workers currently in the fossil fuel industry and elsewhere. With fossil fuels on the way out, and in the midst of an unprecedented economic recession caused by an international pandemic, Maryland should prioritize rebuilding with clean energy and climate solutions. Maryland needs a climate stimulus.”

Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Director of Faithful Advocacy for Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), released the following statement:

“People of faith know that caring for our communities means transitioning away from coal as a power source. We see the closing of the Chalk Point coal units as essential for the health of our state, our climate, our neighbors, and ourselves. 

“But as people of faith, we care also for our neighbors who work at Chalk Point. We’ve called on our elected officials to provide funding for a just transition so that we could avoid this very situation—workers and their families given less than a year to plan for the loss of their livelihoods. Faithful Marylanders know that a clean energy economy is our future, and our communities are depending on our elected officials to chart the path forward.”

Chispa Maryland Director Ramon Palencia-Calvo, Released the following statement 

“Plant closures in Maryland will affect workers, communities and families, leaving them in especially precarious conditions during uncertain economic times and under a pandemic. The Chalk Point closing underscores the need for an equitable, enforceable transition plan for moving Maryland off coal and towards a clean energy economy that supports workers and communities.” 

Frederick Tutman, Riverkeeper at Patuxent Riverkeeper released the following statement:

“Residents in the Brandywine area and of course the Patuxent River have suffered enough from the persistent and egregious environmental problems  caused by this plant and its various coal related waste streams and other impacts for decades. The posture of this plant with its neighbors and the environment has generally reflected environmental indifference and injustice throughout its tenure. It’s high time for a change, and even one more day of coal power generation at Chalk Point is too much. But we’ll take this latest bid for an alternate fuel source as a long overdue step in the right direction.”

Contact: Pablo Willis, pablo.willis@sierraclub.org; Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org

Photo at the top from a 2011 CCAN candlelight vigil against coal

“What Are You?” – How Struggles with Multiculturalism Have Informed My Activism

By Zamir Ticknor

“What Am I?”  

Mom and me celebrating Eid

I remember wearing my bright, aqua blue Panjabi with exquisite designs on the collars– that my family bought when I was in my home country of Bangladesh– at my high school’s international night this year. While I was munching on delightful roshroshogulla, a Bangladeshi dessert, I vividly remember a tall, poised, Indian man awkwardly yet confidently strolling towards me; he then blatantly stared at my Panjabi and my light skin. I recall him posing the following question: “Are you even Bangladeshi? You’re too white to be a true Bangladeshi.” His thoughts along with my lingering enigmas in regards to my culture led me to question my identity solely because I am lighter than most Bangladeshis- this was not an enjoyable feeling then and that still remains true today.

When discussing the racial, ethnic, and cultural identity of individuals, it is professedly dormant for people to assume that identity can be summed up in one word: Black, white, Latinx, Jewish, Muslim, Bangladeshi, American, etc. The concept of identity is much more complex than that. In today’s world, people immigrate and move around quite often whether it’s because of economic hardship or political sovereignty; the world is not as sectioned off as it has been in the past. With advancements in technology, specifically in modes of transportation, the world has unquestionably become more accessible. With more diversity among inhabitants in certain areas, there will subsequently be a higher percentage of interracial relationships. So in future generations, there’ll be a higher percentage of multiracial individuals. According to the US Census Bureau in 2010, nine million Americans identify as two races or more, myself included. 

Reminders from Multicultural Youth  

The USA is a country where people from all over the globe come for better opportunities and seek to build a more fruitful life for themselves and their children. My mother did this to better her education from the developing country of Bangladesh. And as a biracial Bangladeshi-American, I would like to provide the reminders that this country is built on immigrants, refugees, asylees, international students, from every single corner of the world. Multicultural families create children with valid, multilayered identities, which are the future of race, and it is time that they are discussed in a serious, open-minded, and accepting manner.

My nanu and I on a rickshaw, a common mode of transportation in Bangladesh

Multiculturalist Stigmas  

Biracial or multicultural identity is something that is not discussed sufficiently. This is partially because people often aren’t properly informed on how to ask a sensitive question about cultural identity. For many multicultural people, we’re familiar with the “what are you” question. I am sure that this question, when asked, makes you feel dehumanized and objectified as if you lack a valid and worthy identity. Aside from the fact that there’s a huge distinction between asking questions out of curiosity versus ignorance, being different doesn’t give bystanders a non-expiring free pass to always ask any cultural/identity-related question that comes to mind. It is most definitely different depending on the situation and the person. I myself welcome questions the majority of the time, but others may not appreciate constant questions. The topic of racial, cultural, and ethnic identity can be a sensitive one, but it’s absolutely necessary to be well-educated on racial relations and identity issues as a person of an increasingly diverse world. 

So, let’s break the stigma. Let us spark dialogue about multicultural identity to our peers, our parents, and our society. Challenge your enigmas- question your culture in order to learn from it; this has led me to finally vocalize confidently that I am proud to be multicultural and biracial, and you should be proud of your identity. Without the tall, poised Indian man who posed a question to me, I believe that I would have never found my true self, and I would have never been able to undeniably write this message. Diverse cultural backgrounds are a gift, and though I may never wholly be a part of one culture, I get a taste of lifestyles that most people never do. 

Me with a man in the market, specifically a bangle shop. Bangles are traditional ornaments worn mostly by women from the Indian subcontinent.

As a person who identifies as multicultural, I am a bridge for cultures to cross, continuing to attempt paving my way into an American society. 

Instead of saying “I am stuck between two cultures and communities, and I feel like I don’t belong in either”, I have reframed my multiculturalism to: “I’m grateful I have the option to move between differing cultures and communities and choose values and beliefs that serve me.”

Multiculturalism in Activism   

Some might argue that it’s not important to find our identity–molding you into a norm rather than an epitome: American instead of Bangladeshi and American. But, the language we use to describe ourselves frames our reality. My multicultural identity as a Bangladeshi-American shapes my perspective on the climate crisis, as I see the effects in my home country of Bangladesh and in the United States. My multicultural identity allows me to visualize and gain a personal perspective on environmental racism apparent in pipeline routes in Virginia, and even in predominantly POC communities/countries across the globe. My cultural roots in Bangladesh give me a somewhat personalized issue of the global refugee crisis, and have informed my lesson planning to a Syrian refugee I teach English to every week. 

Being multicultural allows me to view the climate crisis in a multidimensional, personalized way. Instead of automatically boycotting fast fashion, my perspective has informed me of how the fast fashion industry may be the only way of supporting millions of people across the world, especially in my home country of Bangladesh in the huge textiles industry; if these people were to lose their jobs, where would they go? Being vegan also comes with privilege, bringing socioeconomic inequalities and cultural differences in the forefront of my mind, informed by my multicultural upbringing. 

Identity matters. If only I knew more about what mine was, and I will, someday. 

Me at a mustard farm in rural Bangladesh, where parts of my family and family friends lived

1,500+ Marylanders to Hogan Administration: Reject the Eastern Shore Pipeline Project

On the Heels of Massive Fracked-Gas Pipeline Shutdowns Nationally, Hogan Administration Considering Approval for a New Pipeline down the Eastern Shore of Maryland

SALISBURY, MD — Today, environmental organizations announced that more than 1,500 public comments were submitted to the Maryland Department of Environment opposing the Del-Mar Pipeline project. As the department considers its recommendation to the Board of Public Works on the project’s application for a Wetlands License, the comments explain how this pipeline would threaten the Eastern Shore’s wetlands ecosystems and contribute to climate change. 

Anthony Field, Maryland Grassroots Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “This proposed fracked-gas pipeline is a bad bet for Maryland. At a time when the climate crisis is imminent and the fracked-gas industry is failing, expanding fracked-gas expansion is financially and morally irresponsible. The state should invest in a truly clean and safe future for Marylanders, instead of pumping millions into near obsolete infrastructure that fuels the climate crisis while threatening local ecosystems.”

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) — a subsidiary of Chesapeake Utilities — wants to build 19+ miles of new pipeline to carry fracked gas from Delaware through Maryland, to connect with another fracked-gas pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities that would bring fracked gas to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and the Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI). These two proposed pipelines would threaten the region’s ecosystems and drinking water supplies, and could cause irreparable damage to the land and climate. 

These comments come just after two massive national fracked-gas pipelines were cancelled or ordered to shut down. Companies behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled the project due to ballooning costs and legal uncertainties. And the Dakota Access pipeline was ordered to shut down for an environmental review.  Meanwhile, in late June, the fracking giant Chesapeake Energy filed for bankruptcy. These setbacks for the industry demonstrate that fracking is a risky investment, for the climate, the environment, and the economy. 

Susan Olsen, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Lower Eastern Shore Group, stated: “We submitted these comments today to tell our leaders what we’ve been telling them for years: Marylanders don’t want fracking, we don’t want fracked gas, and we don’t want dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipelines. It makes no sense to build unnecessary fracked gas pipelines when we could be investing in the clean, renewable energy sources that are affordable and abundant right now. We banned fracking in 2017, we threw out the Potomac Pipeline in 2019, and we should reject the Eastern Shore Pipeline now.”

The pipeline is already under construction in Delaware to carry gas from that state into Maryland. The seven miles of pipeline proposed for Maryland would supply concentrated animal feeding operations, businesses, and residential areas. The two “anchor” customers for gas delivery are the Eastern Correctional Institute (ECI) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Somerset County. If built, the Del-Mar pipeline would trigger the second pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities connecting the prison to the university. The installation of the Del-Mar pipeline will impact 1,239 square feet of streams and more than 30,000 square feet of wetlands and wetland buffers. It is anticipated to come online in late 2021. 

These two pipelines are part of the Hogan Administration’s plans to spend $103 million massively increasing fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state. This includes $30.3 million administered by the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) new Maryland Gas Expansion Fund “for the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.” The remaining $70 million is recoverable from MD ratepayers. Read more about it here.

Contact: Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Environmental Groups Speak Out Against the Eastern Shore Pipeline for Fracked Gas

On the Heels of Massive Fracked-Gas Pipeline Shutdowns Nationally, Hogan Administration Considering Approval for a New Pipeline down the Eastern Shore of Maryland

SALISBURY, MD — Today, dozens of organizations and Maryland residents are speaking out against the proposed Eastern Shore Pipeline as the Hogan Administration holds a key virtual hearing on the project beginning at 6:00pm.  

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) wants to build 19+ miles of new pipeline to carry fracked gas from Delaware through Maryland, to connect with another fracked-gas pipeline proposed by the Chesapeake Utilities that would bring fracked gas to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) and the Eastern Correctional Institution. These two proposed pipelines would threaten the region’s ecosystems and drinking water supplies, and could cause irreparable damage to the land and climate. 

“The era of fossil fuels is over,” said Anthony Field, Maryland Grassroots Organizer at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “We simply cannot be building new infrastructure for toxic methane gas. Eastern Shore officials should promote the speedy development of clean energy sources like offshore wind instead.” 

This hearing comes just after two massive national fracked-gas pipelines were cancelled or ordered to shut down. Companies behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancelled the project due to ballooning costs and legal uncertainties. And the Dakota Access pipeline was ordered to shut down for an environmental review.  Meanwhile, in late June, the fracking giant Chesapeake Energy filed for bankruptcy. These setbacks for the industry demonstrate that fracking is a risky investment, for the climate, the environment, and the economy. 

Today’s hearing, held by the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), is on the Wetland and Waterways permit on the Del-Mar pipeline proposed by ESNG. The pipeline is already under construction in Delaware to carry gas from that state into Maryland. The seven miles of pipeline proposed for Maryland would supply concentrated animal feeding operations, businesses, and residential areas. The two “anchor” customers for gas delivery are the Eastern Correctional Institute (ECI) and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Somerset County. If built, the Del-Mar pipeline would trigger the second pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities connecting the prison to the university. The installation of the Del-Mar pipeline will impact 1,239 square feet of streams and more than 16,000 square feet of wetlands. It’s anticipated to come online in late 2021. 

“With clean, renewable energy affordable and abundant right now, it makes no sense for the state to commit to burning dangerous fracked gas at ECI’s power plant,” said Susan Olsen, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Lower Eastern Shore Group. “Marylanders overwhelmingly prefer investing in clean energy solutions instead of committing to decades of dependence on fracked gas. At a time when Maryland is considering major budget cuts, we should not waste money on climate-disrupting fossil fuel projects.”

These two pipelines are part of the Hogan Administration’s plans to spend $103 million massively increasing fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state. This includes $30.3 million administered by the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) new Maryland Gas Expansion Fund “for the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.” The remaining $70 million is recoverable from MD ratepayers. Read more about it here.

Contact: Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889

###

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline is Dead. Dominion Energy and Duke Energy Abandon $8 billion, 600-mile Pipeline for Fracked Gas

After six years of protest by environmentalists, landowners, and justice organizations, the companies say court challenges prevent them from moving forward. Chesapeake Climate Action Network was proud to help lead the opposition within days of the original pipeline announcement in September 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Media reports today confirm that Dominion Energy and Duke Energy Corporation are finally abandoning the hugely controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The pipeline would have shipped fracked gas from West Virginia, through Virginia and into the Carolinas, while destroying critical forest habitat, farmland, human communities, and worsening climate change.

STATEMENT FROM MIKE TIDWELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CHESAPEAKE CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK:

“Just one day after July 4th, America is stunningly closer to true energy independence with the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The fossil fuel era is rapidly drawing to a close in Virginia and nationwide thanks to the ferocious six-year opposition to this destructive pipeline. That opposition was waged by environmentalists, farmers, justice groups and common residents across the region.

“This pipeline was a boondoggle from the moment it was announced by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell and then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in September 2014. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is proud to have been one of the first statewide environment groups to take up this cause, to organize our supporters, and to protest with everything from letters to the editor to civil disobedience.

“We want to thank all our partners in this long struggle. They include, but are not limited to, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Wild Virginia, Rick Webb, David Sligh, the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, Lewis Freeman, Bill and Lynn Limpert, Appalachian Voices, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Southern Environmental Law Center, Pastor Paul Wilson, Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Virginia Conservation Network, and so many more. Special thanks to current and past CCAN staff and board members who put everything they had – for years! – into stopping this pipeline. We never gave up!”

CONTACT:

Mike Tidwell, Director, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 608-320-6582, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org

##

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

D.C. Sues Big Oil for Lying About Climate Change

AG Karl Racine Files Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against Exxon, BP, Chevron, and Shell One Day After Minnesota AG Filed Consumer Protection Case Against Exxon & Koch Industries

WASHINGTON, D.C. – District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine today filed a consumer protection lawsuit against four of the world’s biggest oil companies — Exxon, BP, Chevron, and Shell — for knowingly concealing the role their products play in causing climate change harm.

The D.C. lawsuit comes one day after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a similar consumer fraud lawsuit against Exxon, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute. A consumer protection suit filed against Exxon by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey last year is now proceeding in state court.

“Two new lawsuits filed against Big Oil in two days shows the strength and momentum of legal efforts to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for lying about climate change,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity. “It has been a very bad week for corporate polluters and climate deniers, and a very good week in the fight to hold Big Oil accountable for its lies and deception. We applaud Attorney General Racine for bringing this case. The residents of D.C. deserve their day in court.” 

“The District of Columbia today stood up to mega polluters like ExxonMobil who have harmed vulnerable DC residents for decades,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “The heatwaves are bigger and the flooding from the Potomac is greater. The lawsuit filed today accurately asserts that these fossil fuel companies misled consumers about the harm of their products and the impacts of climate change. Now legal justice and compensation must flow to the Capital’s injured residents.”

A copy of the D.C. lawsuit is available here  https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/DC-v-Exxon-BP-Chevron-Shell-Filed-Complaint.pdf

This is the second consumer protection action filed in D.C. against Exxon in recent months. In May, the non-profit group Beyond Pesticides filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Exxon that asked the D.C. Superior Court to order the oil giant to cease its “false and deceptive marketing” about its role in climate change.

Background on Climate Accountability Lawsuits:

The consumer protection lawsuits filed by Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia are among a growing number of cases that seek to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for climate change deception. Since 2017, more than a dozen city and county governments in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Washington have brought lawsuits under different claims to recover billions of dollars damages caused by the oil and gas industry’s deception about climate change. Learn about those other cases here.

Contact: Mike Meno, Center for Climate Integrity, mike@climateintegrity.org or 919-307-6637
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org or 240-460-5838

The Center for Climate Integrity, a project of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, launched in 2017 to educate the public and policymakers about the massive costs of coping with the damage attributable to global warming and to support efforts to make climate polluters pay their fair share.

For more information on what ExxonMobil and others in the industry knew about climate change and when, check out the Center for Climate Integrity’s “Smoking Guns” document archive or visit PayUpClimatePolluters.org.

###

We support “Defund the Police.” Here’s why, and what’s next

We are at a crucial point in history for racial justice. There are no neutral actors here: Silence itself is a dangerous act. 

That’s why we at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network are raising our voices for a world where Black Lives Matter. Not just because Black and Latinx Americans care most on average about climate change. Not just because the climate fight would be nothing without a diverse movement. Not just because we need every community to join us in our fight for climate solutions for it to succeed. Not just because we need to be able to protest without entire populations fearing for their lives. 

But because the fight for a safe climate future is a fight to save lives. And millions of Americans are fighting for their lives right now.

At this critical moment, we are following the lead of Black-led organizations at the forefront of this struggle. We are signing on in support of the broad movement to reduce funding for police and reinvest in communities under the banner of “Defund the Police.”

On Tuesday night, CCAN Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to support this movement. Click HERE to see the resolution. 

In practical terms, here’s what that means for us at CCAN: 

  • We will support efforts spearheaded by Black-led organizations to pressure our legislators to meaningfully divest from police programs that directly or indirectly give rise to brutality, and invest in public services and other public safety measures that don’t involve police force or incarceration. This means weighing in on state and local budget hearings, and encouraging our supporters to do the same. More on that below. 
  • We pledge to not pay for police services at CCAN events — like protests and conferences — unless absolutely necessary. Often, police departments require activists to pay for police presence at public marches and rallies. Our refusal to pay such fees will force us to make sure we’re asking the right questions up front and will help us to choose venues and vendors that share our values. We expect to formalize this new policy in the coming weeks.
  • We will connect our supporters with anti-racism trainings and resources and maximize trainings for staff to ensure that racial justice is a centerpiece of our climate campaigns.
  • We will invest in voter education campaigns to help protect vulnerable communities from voter suppression efforts — and encourage all voters to support leaders who advocate for meaningfully divesting from police to better fund social programs instead. 

You may be wondering, what do we mean by “Defund the Police?” It doesn’t mean getting rid of all police overnight — or necessarily ever — and it won’t mean the same thing in every city, town, or locality. It means redistributing the hundreds of millions of dollars we spend on policing back into essential public services that have been gutted over the last few decades as police budgets ballooned. It means mental health professionals answering calls about mental health crises, and addiction experts answering calls about opioid abuse, instead of armed officers. It means tackling our social problems with tools that could help solve them rather than resorting to violence and criminalization, a system that was borne out of racism and has intentionally disrupted and devastated Black, Brown, Indigenous and poor communities since its inception centuries ago.

This effort draws parallels to the fossil fuel divestment campaign as well. We’re not proposing eliminating all forms of energy, just the dirty ones; we still need to keep the lights on and the internet flowing, now more than ever in the era of coronavirus. Similarly, we still need systems to keep our communities safe. We’re just opening our minds to what those systems look like. And we’re taking our cues from the groups, communities, and thought-leaders most impacted by the current broken system.

If you’re still skeptical, click HERE to watch a video with CCAN Board Members Terence Ellen and Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. discussing what “Defund the Police” means for CCAN and why it’s important for climate activists to support it.

Here at CCAN, we know that the fight for climate justice and racial justice are one in the same. People of color disproportionately bear the impacts of climate change, from extreme storms to flooding from sea level rise to heat waves to air pollution. It’s also no coincidence that fossil-fueled power plants and refineries are disproportionately located in black neighborhoods, leading to poor air quality and putting people at higher risk for coronavirus. The forces behind the climate crisis are the same forces behind racial inequality. As Eric Holthaus put it, climate change is “what happens when the lives of marginalised people and non-human species are viewed as expendable.” We have to work together for permanent and durable solutions that protect every single person of every single race — particularly the most vulnerable — now and in the future. 

That’s why we will continue to shine light on police brutality and work for solutions everywhere to this ongoing tragedy. And we ask you to do the same. Please do what you can to use your voice to demand justice. 

Here’s where to start:

The fight for justice becomes more crucial every day. We’re glad to be fighting with you. 

In solidarity, 

The entire team at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund