On Saturday I went to my stepson’s graduation from St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland. It was a beautiful day, and attending family were filled with love and pride as we took in this milestone. We snapped lots of pictures when the ceremony was over, with big smiles on our faces, attuned to both the impressive accomplishments achieved and the opportunities on the road ahead.
Speaking of the road ahead, it turns out Dominion’s Cove Point was on the way home, very close to the college. My husband Gregg and I decided to drive by the dormant liquid natural gas (LNG) import facility that Dominion Resources of Virginia hopes to turn into an export facility as soon as possible. I wanted to see for myself how close the facility is to family residences. I had heard they were just across a two-lane road and, lo and behold, they are!
I got out of the car to take a few photos, and as soon as I got back in, security pulled up behind us, lights flashing. They asked what I was doing there. I explained that I had heard about Dominion Cove Point and wanted to see for myself how close the LNG facility was to the community. He asked for my ID and then went around and took down Gregg’s license plate. He was on his walkie-talkie the entire time and continued to detain us there, as if we were a threat of some sort. After a few minutes, Gregg said we had been detained long enough, and we parted ways.
Really? Was it necessary to detain us for taking a couple of photographs outside of the facility? Who’s the real threat to security? A concerned citizen or a proposed LNG export facility that has the proven potential to explode right beside a residential neighborhood? The answer should be a no brainer. Apparently it’s not.
Domion Cove Point’s LNG export facility is currently being rubber-stamped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Despite the insistence by concerned citizens, environmental organizations, health professionals and faith leaders that FERC conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), FERC instead conducted an Environmental Assessment (EA). It is a profoundly inadequate study of the potential impacts this LNG export facility would have on the environment and public heath and safety.
I am not going to go into the extensive details on the EA in this post (see links below). What I am going to say is that not conducting an EIS makes a bold statement that people are expendable, that the risks to their lives, to their health and safety, is the price we must pay in order for Dominion Resources and related gas industry companies to make obscene profits by shipping our natural gas overseas to India and Japan.
Not conducting an EIS says that it doesn’t matter that this LNG export operation will allow for intolerable amounts of methane to enter our atmosphere – a greenhouse gas 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over 20 years – at a time when we desperately need to stop contributing to climate change.
Not conducting and EIS says it doesn’t matter that a web of pipelines and compressor stations will cross the state and region, putting in jeopardy the safety and health of communities. Pipelines leak and explode. Compressor stations can explode, too. They also pour tons of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds into the air and, therefore, into the lungs of children, their families and their communities. The current compressor station Dominion is ready to build in Myersville, Maryland – despite the town’s objections – is less than a mile from the town’s elementary school.
Not conducting an EIS says that FERC, Dominion and the gas industry don’t care about people in states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia – people whose health and economic welfare are being ravaged by fracking, which will increase in activity to an intolerable degree once the LNG export facility is built. Fracking is poisoning drinking water and air at an alarming rate, and the effects to citizen’s health are significant and disastrous. Dominion acts as if the LNG terminal has nothing to do with fracking, but, in fact, fracked gas is what they will convert to liquid natural gas. They plan to transport per day through Maryland four times the amount of fracked gas that all of Maryland uses in one day!
I am stunned that citizens are not the priority when it comes to the construction of this LNG export facility that is smack dab in the middle of a neighbor and next to a big, beautiful park filled with baseball fields, picnic areas, playgrounds and children. An LNG export facility has never been built in a residential neighborhood for good reason!
There are thousands and thousands of us in the region and across the country that are not going to allow this LNG export terminal to be fast-tracked. The natural gas industry has pockets as deep as they get, but the mothers, fathers, grandparents, students and others who wish to safeguard our natural resources and protect our fellow citizens and our future are a force that won’t back down. We stand for the security of people over profit. This kind of security should be a no brainer, but apparently it’s not.