Ahead of Vote, Dozens of Organizations Call on State to Reject Proposed Investments in Controversial Gas Retrofits at State Facility on the Eastern Shore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Anne Havemann, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, (202) 997-2466

Retrofits are Premature and Would Increase Use of Fossil Fuels, Hurt Maryland’s  Push for More Renewable Energy and Create Health and Safety Risks

Citing climate change, environmental, and public health concerns, 32 environmental organizations are calling on the Maryland Board of Public Works to reject a proposal to invest half a million dollars for retrofits at the Eastern Correctional Institution, which would allow the state facility to begin to convert to burning fracked gas. The Eastern Correctional Institution will be an end-user of two pipelines that have not yet been fully permitted, and these investments are premature. The groups’ overarching concerns stem from plans to expand fracked gas pipelines on the Eastern Shore as part of a project to switch energy production at two state facilities to fracked gas.

The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company (ESNG) is seeking approval to build 19 miles of new pipeline that would carry fracked gas from Delaware into Maryland. The seven miles of the “Del-Mar” Pipeline to be built in Maryland would connect with a separate 11-mile pipeline proposed by Chesapeake Utilities. 

The Chesapeake Utilities project is designed to provide fracked gas to two state facilities, Eastern Correctional Institution (ECI) and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), which would both switch their heating systems from other sources to fracked gas as part of this plan. 

The organizations are urging the Board, made up of the governor, state comptroller and treasurer, to halt investments in the project and recommit to renewable energy sources for state institutions. 

“Given that Maryland has banned fracking, it defies our state’s existing energy policy to bring the same public health risks to our residents by way of pipelines,” the letter states. “Moreover, enabling fossil fuel production runs counter to our state’s goals of increasing renewable energy production. We are appalled that the request for proposals put out by the State of Maryland to repower the university and prison foreclosed the possibility of clean energy by only requesting applications for fracked gas. We are equally angered that this proposal to repower with dangerous fracked gas is being touted as a ‘clean alternative.’” 

Click here for a copy of the letter.

UMES and ECI currently use environmentally harmful sources to heat their facilities (UMES relies on propane and oil and ECI relies on burning wood chips). By converting to fracked gas, however, these facilities are trading one harmful source for another. 

The Board of Public Works is expected to consider two contracts totaling $514,250 for planning and engineering of the ECI power plant conversion at its July 1st meeting. 

“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.”    

The construction and operation of the Del-Mar Pipeline would impact 1,239 square feet of streams and over 16,000 square feet of wetlands in Maryland. ESNG plans to install its pipeline through at least one older, forested wetland that is vulnerable to construction-related impacts using the destructive “open trench” method of construction. While the specifics of the 11-mile Chesapeake Utilities pipeline are not yet known, similar impacts to our regional water resources are likely. 

“As a kid growing up on the Eastern Shore, I knew there was nothing you could ever offer me that would get me to allow you to poison my marsh,” said Dan O’Hare, President of Wicomico Environmental Trust. “We know pipelines leak. And when they do, they will make our community sick. We will suffer. We know fracked gas is one of the main culprits in causing the waters to rise and destroy our coasts. What value could there possibly be to us to allow this remnant of the dying industrial era to endanger our wetlands, our water, and the health of our community?”

“As someone with a background in environmental studies and marine science, I do not support UMES’s decision to utilize fracked gas as a means to heat the facilities when alternatives were not properly considered,” said Madeline Farmer, a graduate student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. “The decision to support a fracked-gas pipeline is inconsistent with UMES’s reputation as one of the most eco-friendly Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country. As one of the greenest HBCUs, it’s important that we continue to lead the green movement and set an example for other universities across the State of Maryland and the nation.”

The Eastern Shore of Maryland has been called “ground zero” for sea level rise due to climate change. It makes no sense to invest in pipelines that will lock the state into decades of reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. 

In addition to violating the spirit of Maryland’s renewable energy commitments and fracking ban, the pipelines would also endanger public health. 

“We are concerned that we are being asked to put our environment and public health at risk for a pipeline that we may not have use for in the near future as our state and the country moves towards clean energy,” the letter states. 

The following organizations have signed on to the letter sent to the Board of Public Works:

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

Greenbelt Climate Action Network

Manokin River Keepers

Maryland Legislative Coalition

Parkertown Car Care

Maryland Chapter, Lower Eastern Shore Sierra Club

Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter

Earthworks

Talbot County Hunger Coalition

Lower Shore Progressive Caucus

Audubon Maryland-DC

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association

Ridge to Reefs

Talbot Preservation Alliance

Assateague Coastal Trust   

Organization of Environmental States

Wicomico Environmental Trust

ShoreRivers

Howard County Climate Action

Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community

Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee

Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace

Clean Air Prince Georges

Wicomico Interfaith Alliance

Wicomico County Creekwatchers

Environmental Justice Ministry Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church

Indivisible Howard County

Harford County Climate Action

The Climate Mobilization, Montgomery County

League of Women Voters of Maryland

Cecil Solidarity

Virginia Withholds Key Permit for “Header Injustice Project”

CCAN Statement: “This was a needed win in these trying times”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2020
CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889
Anne Havemann, General Counsel, anne@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-2146
Lauren Landis, Grassroots Coordinator, lauren@chesapeakeclimate.org, 757-634-9567

Richmond, VA — Today, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued a preliminary ruling against a controversial fracked-gas expansion project referred to as the “Header Injustice Project” by affected communities. Under the terms of the decision, the utility may re-apply for a permit but must comply with certain conditions that could prove extremely difficult to meet.  If the utility, Virginia Natural Gas (VNG), can show by December 31, 2020, that its main customer — the 1050-megawatt C4GT gas plant — has the financing it needs to build, VNG must also submit information about needed environmental justice analyses and confirm that it will protect VNG’s customers from unnecessary rate increases. 

The second condition related to cost protections might prove especially challenging for VNG to meet. To shield VNG’s customers from “holding the bag” for the costs of the project should the gas plant cease operation, the Commission is requiring that the capital cost of the project must be recovered over 20 years instead of the 70 years proposed. VNG’s own rebuttal testimony recognized that “[t]here is a very real risk that if the entire cost of the Project is required to be amortized over 20 years that the Project will be cost prohibitive and not be completed.” 

The Commission found that there was a “very real risk” that C4GT might shut down before VNG fully recovered the costs of the Project. In its 2020 session, the Virginia General Assembly voted to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will raise the cost of all carbon-emitting facilities in Virginia, making it more difficult for merchant facilities like C4GT, which sell energy and capacity into the regional power grid, to make a profit. 

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Sierra Club, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, intervened in the proceeding and consistently raised concerns about the potential impacts to ratepayers from the proposed 70-year cost-recovery period, among other issues. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation also intervened as did the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Appalachian Voices and Virginia Interfaith Power & Light. 

Anne Havemann, CCAN General Counsel, stated:

“This was a needed win in these trying times. The Header Injustice Project is so named because it is an absolute travesty in terms of environmental justice. Major components would go through majority-minority communities, and virtual hearings were held about an issue that would impact areas that have limited internet access. As a result, these communities, with little knowledge or say in the project, would have been the worst impacted by its harms: toxic air pollution, noise, threats of explosion. This is the textbook definition of environmental racism. 

“But, at the end of the day, it was the arguments around need and cost that moved the needle. This decision recognizes that there is great risk in continuing investments in fossil fuel infrastructure and affirms that ratepayers should not be forced to subsidize these projects. Virginia is on the pathway to 100% clean electricity. Fracked gas should no longer enter the equation. 

“We thank the SCC Commissioners who did the right thing today. The tide is turning in Virginia toward clean energy and toward justice. We hope that Governor Northam is paying attention and will use his authority to reject the other terrible fracked-gas projects proposed in the Commonwealth, including Dominion’s Buckingham Compressor Station.” 

Additional information: 

Virginia Natural Gas is calling the proposal the “Header Improvement Project.” But the organizations fighting it call it the “Header Injustice Project” because it would harm countless communities. 

The proposal is for three new gas pipelines, totaling 24 miles, and three new or expanded gas compressor stations from Northern Virginia, through the middle of the state, and to the shore in Hampton Roads. The primary purpose of HIP is to supply gas to the C4GT merchant gas plant proposed for Charles County City. This merchant plant would be located about a mile from the proposed Chickahominy Power Station, a separate gas-fired merchant power plant that would be the largest in the state of Virginia. VNG wants this network of fracked-gas infrastructure to be up and running by the end of 2022.

The project has been tangled in justice concerns from the beginning. The massive gas plant the project is intended to serve is one of two such plants proposed  to be built in a community with higher minority populations than the Virginia average. And one key component of the HIP project itself — the Gidley Compressor Station — is also proposed for a predominantly Black community. Yet there has been no environmental justice review carried out. 

Furthermore, holding regulatory hearings for the project during the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns in itself because internet coverage in the area surrounding the Gidley Compressor falls below the state average, leaving residents unable to access information and participate in the process. The first hearing on the HIP proposal was held up by technical issues.

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 A coalition called the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) Coalition has formed to stop this project. Learn more here: www.stophip.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 

Add “Prison Reform” to your Climate Activist To-Do List. Yes, really.

Racial Injustice in the time of COVID-19 

As we’ve seen so often during the coronavirus crisis, we know that COVID-19 does not impact all people equally. In the United States, we have seen the virus expose the dark divisions in health and income disparities between white Americans and Black and Latinx Americans. Moreover, the ongoing protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others at the hands of police have revealed the systemic racism that keeps populations in our society unequal. Activists and educators have pointed to the statistics that show even more severe inconsistencies between Black and white Americans in the level of services accessible in the form of access to jobs, healthcare, affordable housing, and education. However, out of all populations that COVID-19 is hitting the hardest, Americans in prison are dying at a disproportionate rates and spreading COVID-19 faster than outside populations, due to the intersections of of racial injustice, poor health outcomes, and lack of basic medical care that is lacking in our prisons and jails. 

These disparities should cause alarm for anyone wishing for America to move towards a more just and equal society. For us as climate activists, we already know the data shows us that communities of color bear the brunt of fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts. We should examine how to help every community in our society have a higher chance of survival against the virus, so that we can begin to create the truly green and safe future that we strive towards. 

How does the legacy of white supremacy impact the current criminal justice system? 

In the United States, 70 percent of American prisoners are non-white – part of this has been fueled by decades of mandatory minimum sentencing for crimes that fall under the categories targeted by the “War on Drugs” or “broken windows” policing strategies. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander in her award-winning book “The New Jim Crow” argues that the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a system that upholds racism, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. “People of color are being incarcerated at far higher rates than their counterparts, while neighborhoods that are economically or politically disenfranchised will also have an accumulation” said Barun Mathema, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. A 2016 study by the Sentencing Project found that Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of whites, and at least ten times the rate in five states.

What does this mean during COVID-19? During the COVID-19 crisis, these inequalities are even more magnified. People in prisons are often at heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 due to close proximity, inability to practice social distancing, lack of adequate sanitation and hygiene, high incidence of underlying medical conditions, and lack of adequate medical care in prisons and jails. Even in non-pandemic times, prisons and jails fail at providing the most basic of physical and mental healthcare. And noting the earlier statistics on which groups make up the majority of prisons (Black and Brown people of color), we see that the intersections of race and COVID-19 are a death sentence for the most vulnerable populations in our country. This needs to change. 

Connecting the Dots: COVID-19, Climate, Injustice

Some of you might be asking now: Why should we work to make reforms now to the criminal justice system during COVID-19? Racial injustice has fueled this crisis in America’s prisons, and just as with calls to reform police departments because of brutality, we should also seek to reform this system for the better overall public health and sustainability of our communities. 

If it weren’t enough that prisons are pushed to extremes during a pandemic, we face the duality of knowing that climate change impacts are hitting us already, and the more extreme impacts that we know will come if fossil fuel pollution is left unchecked. If we recognize that people of color are the ones most often on the frontlines of climate change, we must also recognize that prison populations are also on the front lines of climate change. Organizer Jay Ware notes that imprisoned people also suffer from climate catastrophes, “whether this is families fleeing climate change in the Global South being detained and separated into immigrant detention facilities or other black, brown, and poor white prisoners from typically toxic neighborhoods ecologically who are held in toxic prisons.” Not only are the climate impacts experienced prior to incarceration by families and communities, but for people currently living in prison, climate impacts of intense heat, extreme cold, and flooding inflict both physical and psychological suffering

“Every time a large-scale hurricane approaches a coastal stretch of the United States, gruesome stories surface concerning prison officials who refuse to evacuate their prisons. The consequences of this malign neglect can be devastating, and sometimes fatal. During Hurricane Katrina, thousands of prisoners were left to rot in waist-high water; in 2017, Hurricane Harvey saw 3,000 prisoners in Texas stranded without food or water for days; in 2018, prisoners within the evacuation zone on Florida’s coast were left to fend for themselves when Hurricane Michael hit; and when Hurricane Florence rolled through South Carolina, the state declined to evacuate more than a thousand people across multiple prisons.” – Kim Kelly, “The Climate Disaster Inside America’s Prisons” 

Furthermore, with the threads of mass incarceration, health inequality, and the climate crisis seemingly intertwined – some officials look to prisons for help in fighting climate change. In California, during the unprecedented fire season in 2018 and onwards, prison labor has been used to fight wildfires. Prisoners in California’s Conservation Camp program were fighting the fires alongside civilian employees, earning just $1.45 a day for their work, significantly less than minimum wage that their counterparts earn, but carrying all of the dangerous risks that fighting fires entail. If you do not see the issues with labor exploitation during a climate crisis, the ACLU makes it clear: “We should use incarceration as a last resort to protect public safety — not to create or maintain a pool of cheap labor for the government.” 

Next Steps on Criminal Justice Reform 

So where do we go from here? What would reform look like? An immediate next step that all climate activists must take is to dedicate some of your time as activists to guarantee that the human rights of all Americans are being protected, now during the COVID-19 crisis and into the future when we know that climate impacts will arrive in our cities and communities. 

Since it has been noted that one of the main causes of COVID-19 spreading quickly throughout the prison system is due to prison overcrowding – one solution proposed is to reduce the overall number of people in prison – something that health experts and criminal justice reform advocates now agree on. Activists have been calling for this for many years, because we already know prisons are stacked with more and more individuals serving extremely long sentences for nonviolent offenses.  

Human Rights Watch, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to human rights issues, recommends releasing: 

  • those held for minor offenses
  • those nearing the end of their sentence
  • those jailed for technical violations of probation or parole
  • incarcerated children, older, and otherwise medically vulnerable people, and people who are caregivers to vulnerable people
  • detainees who have not been charged
  • detainees held in pretrial detention, unless they pose a serious and concrete risk to others

in order to best stop the rampant spread of COVID-19 and other health ailments. 

Research released in April by the ACLU found that if prison reform measures were taken, the U.S. could “save as many as 23,000 people in jail and 76,000 in the broader community if we stop arrests for all but the most serious offenses and double the rate of release for those already detained.” 

And it’s not just activists sounding the alarm on this issue either – our government must take notice and take action towards reform. On April 6, Attorney General William Barr sent a memo to federal prosecutors urging them to consider Covid-19 risks when making bail decisions. The memo cited the risk of in increasing jail populations during the pandemic, as well as concerns about risks to individuals. The memo still instructs prosecutors to detain people who pose a public safety threat, despite concerns about the virus. If the Trump Administration recognizes this as a problem, it’s clearly even more serious than they let on. 

Concluding Thoughts 

Finding solutions for all of the intersecting systems of climate justice, racial justice, and mass incarceration can feel overwhelming. But we can draw some conclusions from analyzing all of this information: The same systems that result in a fossil fuel-burning power plant located closer to a Black neighborhood is the same system that resulted in higher incarceration rates for Black Americans and ultimately higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. If we want to fix one of these problems, we actually need to solve both, because climate justice is inherently linked to rectifying racial injustice. 

If we want to create a more sustainable future with clean energy, access to family-supporting jobs, and homes safe from climate impacts of extreme heat, storms, and rising seas, we first need to work to improve the systems that keep us unequal: the unequal access to affordable healthcare and safe homes. For a truly just transition, there can be no one left behind. 

Here are some organizations that are working on this issue in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region that I would encourage you to learn more from and support: 

If you’re confused or have more questions, I would love to talk with you more about this issue, please feel free to email me at stacy[at]chesapeakeclimate.org 

Resources for Further Reading: 

References

Groups Sue Trump’s EPA Over Rollback of Toxic Emissions Standards

Under the cover of Covid, EPA is putting thousands of lives at risk 

For Immediate Release – June 19, 2020

Contacts: 
Siham Zniber, Press Secretary, | szniber@earthjustice.org
Neil Gormley, Earthjustice attorney, | ngormley@earthjustice.org | 202.797.5239
James Pew, Earthjustice attorney, | jpew@earthjustice.org  | 202.745.5214
Brian Willis, Sierra Club, Brian.Willis@sierraclub.org
Lisa Caruso, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, lcaruso@cbf.org | 202.746.2504
Katie Edwards, Clean Air Council kedwards@cleanair.org

Washington, D.C. – Today, civil rights and environmental organizations represented by Earthjustice sued Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency for gutting the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which regulate toxic emissions from coal- and oil-burning power plants. Since MATS took effect in 2015, it has reduced mercury and other air pollutants, which are linked to brain poisoning, breathing illnesses, heart disease, and cancer, among other health impacts that particularly affect children and communities of color. MATS is estimated to save as many as 11,000 lives each year. 

Despite unusually widespread opposition, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler – a former coal lobbyist – reversed the legal finding that it is “appropriate and necessary” to regulate power plants’ hazardous emissions, based on a new cost benefit analysis that economists say has “deep flaws.” The move weakened the rule’s legal foundation and invited court challenges from industry groups hostile to these protections. Coal company Westmoreland Mining Holdings quickly took the opportunity that Wheeler handed to them and went after MATS in court last month. Earthjustice clients are also intervening in Westmoreland’s lawsuit to stop coal barons in their tracks.

 “Wheeler deceitfully created a bogus excuse for coal companies to challenge the MATS rule in court even though he knows the rule saves thousands of lives every year,” said Earthjustice attorney Neil Gormley. “If Wheeler’s giveaway to his former clients is successful, our children will be poisoned while we’re preoccupied with the pandemic. This corrupt attack on our communities is immoral and must be stopped.”

EPA’s own analysis underscores the public health benefits of air pollution regulations. Thanks to MATS mercury pollution has decreased by more than 81 percent.  

“It’s just common sense to protect the most vulnerable populations from the highly toxic air pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants. The technology to keep people safe is being used today and it is affordable. Eliminating these basic protections is simply unconscionable,” said Anne Hedges, Deputy Director of the Montana Environmental Information Center.

“The Trump administration is needlessly jeopardizing standards that have advanced Bay cleanup efforts and protected the region’s most vulnerable children for years. We cannot allow this cynical move to undermine critical health and environmental protections that power plants are already meeting. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is proud to return to court with partners we’ve fought alongside since 2005 to make sure that does not happen,”said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Staff Attorney Ariel Solaski.

“Given Andrew Wheeler’s long history as a coal lobbyist, it’s no surprise  that his intent was to weaken the mercury standards and practically invite a coal company to then sue in court challenging the now-compromised rule,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Campaigns at the Sierra Club. “ We will continue to defend these life-saving standards and defeat Wheeler’s continuing attempts to fudge numbers in order to justify throwing out other clean air and water safeguards.”

“The Trump Administration’s efforts to gut clean air protections during a crisis of public health and justice is unconscionable,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This is an issue of environmental justice. Communities with higher air pollution rates face higher death rates from COVID-19, and Black and brown residents of this country are dying from the virus at three times the rate of white Americans. Now is the time to increase protections, not gut them.”

“Pennsylvania’s coal plants are uniformly located in areas where at least 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, as seen here, qualifying them as Environmental Justice Areas. This completely unnecessary and dangerous rollback of public health standards would directly harm our most vulnerable populations,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council.

Earthjustice filed this lawsuit on behalf of Air Alliance Houston, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Clean Air Council, Downwinders at Risk, Montana Environmental Information Center, and NAACP.

Read this Earthjustice report for more on the history and benefits of MATS. 

A copy of the filing can be found here.

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200 Clean Water Advocates Protest Fracked Gas Pipeline with ‘Hands Across the Potomac’

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, 350.org:

“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.”

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Contact:
Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or doug.jackson@sierraclub.org
Zack Gerdes, (240) 764-5402 or Zack.Gerdes@mdsierra.org

Thousands of Students and Their Supporters Go On Strike Across Maryland, Virginia, and DC

Washington, DC — Today, more than one thousand “climate strikes” are taking place across the world, along with dozens of actions in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. These are taking place as part of the “Global Climate Strike” mobilization to demand climate action just before the United Nations will hold a climate summit in New York City.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s Executive Director Mike Tidwell issued the following statement: 

“Today, across the DMV, thousands of students and their parents and friends are going on strike — leaving schools and jobs — to demand immediate action on the climate crisis. We at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network stand in complete solidarity with the young people who led today’s strike, which is why we are heeding their call to strike alongside them and demand strong climate action.

“What good is a classroom to a student who is handed a dead planet after graduation? And what better future can we offer young people than a safe global climate with cleaner air and cleaner water? Hats off to every student who stood up today to show their elders what true leadership is all about.”

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CONTACT: 

Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 608-620-8819, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org 

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org