Tuesday 19 June 2018

TransCanada wants to build a fracked-gas pipeline underneath our treasured Potomac River and C&O Canal. This company has shown its reckless disregard for public safety and the environment, and now it wants to threaten our own drinking water and communities for a pipeline that won't benefit Marylanders in any way.

The December 19th Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) hearing in Hancock, MD, was absolutely packed with opponents of the pipeline. Over two hundred attended, and the majority spoke in opposition. And because of this MDE scheduled a second hearing on January 22nd at the Hancock High School from 6-10 p.m.in Hancock, MD (snow date — January 25).

Yes, MDE is holding a second public hearing, but they are playing fast and loose with the truth on the 401 process. Several nonprofit groups and residents, including us, have decided to boycott this hearing. We are asking that if you make public comments, to then join us outside the hearing to show your solidarity. See Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Wall’s blog on why and how here.

For nine months, we have explained, through every means possible, our concerns and recommended actions, and we have been ignored.

  • MDE should NOT move forward with approval until all information for a thorough review is available to the public; so far, MDE has failed to clearly explain the confusing federal/state permitting process, causing confusion and limiting public feedback on this controversial pipeline.
  • MDE should require individual 401 certifications for wetland and stream crossings, rather than relying on the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • MDE has ignored requests from Maryland residents to ask FERC to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement.

We are not going to be pacified by just public hearings. They have heard everything we want to say. Now, we want action! Add your voice to stop fracked gas pipeline under the Potomac and join us on January 22nd in Hancock! (Rally from 6:00 - 7:00pm; hearing runs from 6:00pm to 10:00pm.)

If you signed up to speak at the first hearing but didn’t get a chance, you are welcome to make your voice heard during this hearing. We will simply ask you to make a statement of solidarity during your comments and then rejoin the broader boycott of citizens outside. Click Here for Info on Boycott and Tips on Commenting

Please RSVP here on our Eventbrite so we know you’re coming.

Click here to submit comments by January 25th opposing the Potomac Pipeline. Help us urge Governor Hogan to REJECT this dangerous pipeline!

In addition to the MDE Dec. 19th hearing, more than 100 people turned out for the WVA Department of Environmental Protection January 9th hearing on the stormwater permit for the Mountaineer Gas Pipeline that would connect to the TransCanada pipeline. This pipeline also threatens the Potomac River. You can still submit comments to WVDEP by January 19th.

Can’t make it to the hearing? Don’t live in Maryland? You can comment on the permit, too!

Maryland Department of the Environment is accepting comments on the Nontidal Wetlands & Waterways Permit through January 25, 2018 for the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project! Take action today & tell them to reject the pipeline!

P.S. With support from hundreds of our members, we were able to help build a powerful grassroots movement to ban fracking in Maryland. Please consider making a generous donation to help us in this next fight to keep fossil fuel infrastructure from causing irreversible harm to our water supplies!

READ MORE ABOUT NO POTOMAC PIPELINE CAMPAIGN

We need your help! The health of the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River depend on it.

Tell the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) that Exelon Corporation – the owner and operator of Conowingo Dam – must play a role in the cleanup efforts around the Dam.

The Conowingo Dam, on the Susquehanna River, has held back sediment and other pollutants for decades, but recent research shows that the Dam reservoir has filled up with sediment and associated nutrients much faster than expected. 

At least 100 million tons of sediment need to be removed!

If a major, catastrophic-level storm happens, this sediment can and will be mobilized and delivered downstream – smothering aquatic grasses that provide food, habitats and oxygen for marine life in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not a matter of if a major, catastrophic-level storm will happen, but when.

Exelon Corporation has recently filed an application with MDE to re-license the Dam for another 46 years. MDE has the opportunity to approve, deny or place “conditions” on the Dam’s license through this process – and can require that Exelon take steps to mitigate some of the environmental harms this Dam has caused.

MDE needs to hear from you on this important issue! We can’t wait another 46 years before taking action!

The public has until January 15, 2018 to submit written comments to MDE on the re-licensing of Conowingo Dam.

Read our blog for more more info.

 

The Conowingo Dam, on the Susquehanna River, has held back sediment and other pollutants for decades, but recent research shows that the Dam reservoir has filled up with sediment and associated nutrients much faster than expected.

This enormous artificial repository can be scoured by high flow events, re-mobilized, and delivered downstream by one catastrophic-level storm (think Hurricane Agnes level). If mobilized and delivered downstream, this sediment can and will smother aquatic grasses that provide food, habitats and oxygen for marine life in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not a matter of if a major, catastrophic-level storm will happen, but when.

Recently, the owner and operator of Conowingo Dam – Exelon Corporation – filed an application with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to re-license the Dam for another 46 years. Exelon is required to obtain a 401 Water Quality Certification from MDE, which is a requirement under the Clean Water Act that the Dam will continue to meet the State’s water quality standards. MDE has the opportunity to approve, deny or place “conditions” on the Dam’s license through this process. 

On December 5th, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper attended a hearing on this re-licensing and recommended that MDE place conditions on the Dam’s license to ensure that Exelon plays a role in the cleanup efforts around the Dam. Without these necessary conditions, MDE must deny the application outright due to its major deficiencies.

Conowingo Dam is a ticking time bomb that requires some major cleanup efforts. The state must address two separate problems - the sediment that is trapped in the Dam’s reservoir and the sediment now flowing through the Dam due to the Dam’s inability to trap any more sediment. This will require dredging the trapped sediment, a suite of upstream best management practices to minimize the sediment flowing through the dam, and resiliency measures downstream to ameliorate the effects of a sediment scour event – like a major storm. 

We recommend that MDE require a myriad of cleanup actions as a condition on the license in order to address the complex problem that is Conowingo Dam. One type of cleanup effort alone will not be enough. For instance, while best management practices (BMPs) upstream can and should be a part of the cleanup efforts, previous studies have shown that if every single upstream BMP were instituted, they would only address about 15-20% of the sediment flow coming downstream and through the dam. Unfortunately, these practices would also do nothing to ameliorate the risk of the trapped sediment behind the Dam from releasing during a catastrophic storm. 

There is an obligation, not only under the state’s 401 Water Quality Certification, but under the Federal Power Act to address water quality improvements and ensure public benefits, like access and public recreation, which will be impacted if not addressed through this license. 

Over the next 46 years, Exelon will bring in billions in revenue for the operation of this Dam, and the Federal Power Act requires a public benefit for using the public resource of the Susquehanna River. Exelon may not continue to profit from this public resource without remediating all of the environmental problems the Dam has created.

If Maryland doesn’t deal with the trapped sediment behind the dam, all of our efforts to clean up the bay and meet the state’s 2025 Total Maximum Daily Load (TDML) goals will be devastated by one major storm. Maryland cannot wait to start these cleanup efforts – Maryland must partner with Exelon and other stakeholders and start the process now.

Ask MDE to ensure that Exelon plays a role in waterway cleanup efforts during the re-licensing of Conowingo Dam. We can’t wait another 46 years before taking action! 

The public has until January 15, 2018 to submit written comments to MDE on the re-licensing of Conowingo Dam.

DOWNLOAD BACKGROUND INFO:

Waterkeepers Chesapeake & Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Comments Conowingo Dam 401 water quality certificate application, Sept. 2017

FlowWest LSRWA Modeling Review Final Report, August 2017

 

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