Advocates & Elected Officials Rally in Support of State of Maryland’s Defense Against Columbia Gas Lawsuit

Organizations and elected officials held a press conference to show support for the state’s legal defense against Columbia Gas’ attempted land grab 

Baltimore, MD — Today, August 13th, state and local elected officials and advocates gathered in front of the Edward A. Garmatz U.S. Courthouse to support the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ “motion to dismiss” the eminent domain lawsuit by Columbia Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of TransCanada. Columbia Gas is suing to force the state to allow it to build a highly controversial fracked-gas pipeline underneath the Western Maryland Rail/Trail. In January, the Governor Hogan and the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously rejected this right-of-way easement for what is known as the “Potomac Pipeline” project.

Facebook Live video available to watch here

High-res photos available upon request

Advocates held a mock “people’s court” with speakers serving as witnesses to explain that Columbia Gas is guilty of endangering the drinking water for millions and going against the will of the people and elected officials of Maryland. Activists called on Columbia Gas to stop their attempt to override the State’s sovereignty and energy policy and for the federal court to dismiss the case.

This pipeline has faced two years of sustained opposition from the public, grassroots groups, and legislators representing Maryland, West Virginia, and DC. Last month, 62 Maryland Legislators released a public letter opposing the lawsuit and supporting the state’s legal defense. 

QUOTES

Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, District 20:

“As legislators, it’s our job to represent Marylanders and that’s why we strongly oppose a private corporation’s attempt to seize a public park, owned by the state and used regularly by Marylanders for bicycling, hiking, jogging, and inline skating, through the extraordinary power of eminent domain. Back in January, Maryland unequivocally denied Columbia Gas the right to use this land to build their pipeline. We continue to stand with Marylanders to tell Columbia Gas that we don’t want your unnecessary and harmful pipeline in our state.”

Patrick Grenter, Senior Campaign Representative of Sierra Club:

“Over and over again, Marylanders have stood up to say they don’t want fracking, they don’t want fracked gas, and they don’t want Columbia Gas’ dirty pipeline. We’re holding this rally in hopes that Columbia Gas will finally get the message — keep your dirty, dangerous pipeline out of Maryland.”

Brooke Harper, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network: 

“Our governor, our legislators, and Maryland residents have repeatedly rejected this pipeline. It’s enraging that Columbia Gas wants to force this dirty fracked gas pipeline underneath America’s River. We hope the courts will stand with the people today and dismiss Columbia Gas’ attempt to override our democracy for a dangerous fracked-gas pipeline.”

Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

“Columbia Gas is a corporate ‘bully’ that uses its fabricated need of fracked gas for corporate gains to their international shareholders. Columbia gas is guilty of pushing homeowners into signing contracts on a pipeline that not only endangers their drinking water, but their safety as well. And now, Columbia Gas is bullying the State of Maryland to give up it’s sovereign rights to state property.”

Tracy Cannon of Eastern Panhandle Protectors:

“Columbia Gas is guilty of working to build this poisonous pipeline with Mountaineer Gas of WV. This pipeline would be a dedicated line to one place- the highly polluting Rockwool insulation factory in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.”

CONTACT:
Doug Jackson, Sierra Club, 202.495.3045, doug.jackson@sierraclub.org 
Denise Robbins, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240.630.1889, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org 

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About the Sierra Club: 

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org

About Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org 

About the Potomac Riverkeeper Network:

Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with three regional Waterkeeper branches: Potomac Riverkeeper, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and Shenandoah Riverkeeper. Our mission is to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams. We stop pollution to promote safe drinking water, protect healthy habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment. For more information, visit http://www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org