Advocacy Groups Criticize Maryland Board of Public Works Decision in Wake of Climate Change and Justice Concerns
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Leading environmental and justice groups expressed shock today after members of the Board of Public Works voted 3 to 0 to approve a key permit for the Del-Mar Pipeline to carry fracked gas into the Eastern Shore region of Maryland. The Del-Mar Pipeline is one of the two controversial, dirty-energy pipelines proposed for the region in an era of rapid climate change and environmental justice sensitivity.
Although Wednesday’s vote does not guarantee the pipeline will be built, it does signal that opponents of the project — including the NAACP and Chesapeake Climate Action Network — are running out of options for fighting it. The Del-Mar 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.
“By approving the Del-Mar pipeline, the Board has elected to ignore numerous climate change and environmental justice concerns,” CCAN’s Maryland campaign coordinator Anthony Field said. “Building this pipeline will set back the state’s climate goals while further burdening vulnerable communities on the Eastern Shore.”
For months, the Hogan Administration has put its thumb on the scale in favor of this project. While studies have shown that there are cheaper and 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 fracked gas to two state-run facilities.
“The proposed pipeline will produce large quantities of deadly methane that will accelerate global heating,” said John Groutt of the Wicomico Environmental Trust. “The Delmarva Peninsula is the third most threatened area of the country for flooding. Intruding salt water is already destroying productive agricultural land and forests, and this will increase with this project. The same energy could be supplied easily and more cheaply by solar and wind without the harmful side effects.”
The two proposed pipelines are part of the Hogan Administration’s plans to spend $103 million significantly 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.
“This is not a smart decision,” Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Director Josh Tulkin said. “Greenlighting another fracked gas pipeline is like throwing more gasoline on the climate crisis. This project undermines the state’s climate goals and contradicts the recommendations of the Maryland Climate Commission, which is led by the Governor’s own Secretary of the Environment.”
As a next step, CCAN will continue to fight the pipeline, including the Chesapeake Utilities portion which is expected to come before the Board in the next couple of months.
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.