Saturday 17 March 2018
Dominion has told the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) that it plans to emit eight times as many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as it's currently allowed from its fracked gas export terminal in Cove Point, Maryland — raising expected VOC emissions from 2.53 tons per year to 20.1 tons per year!
Dominion is asking to have its existing permit changed to remove any numeric limit of VOC pollution and also to change the way the pollution would be monitored. If this application is approved, it could set a precedent for other dangerous gas infrastructure projects.
Please send the PSC a comment today urging it to deny this application!
Hundreds of people came to a public hearing on this issue on October 2. Speaker after speaker testified against Dominion's permit change, but now we need to follow that up with submitting as many comments as possible. The more the PSC hears that this is a terrible idea, the more likely it is to reject Dominion's request.
All comments must be received by the PSC by 5 p.m. on Monday, October 16.
The PSC only accepts comments that are written and mailed, so please send yours today to the address below. Alternatively, you can submit comments electronically at, and We Are Cove Point will print them up and mail them in for you!
To send a comment directly to the PSC, make sure to include the permit number 9318 and mail it to:

David J. Collins, Executive Secretary
Maryland Public Service Commission
6 Saint Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202-6806 

Much more information about all of this is at Please help protect the air around Cove Point and stop a terrible decision that could have much broader ramifications!

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Joins Over 115 Waterkeeper Organizations and Other Groups In Opposition to Repeal of the Clean Water Rule

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps (Corps) of Engineers passed the Clean Water Rule, resulting in a victory for a variety of streams, ponds, and wetlands that were vulnerable to pollution. Waterkeepers Chesapeake submitted comments that were supportive of the rule’s passage. The Rule was based on sound science and received broad public support.

The Clean Water Rule was part of a larger effort to clarify the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. How WOTUS is defined is important because any waterway that meets the WOTUS definition receives Clean Water Act (CWA) protections. Under the Rule’s updated definition of WOTUS, CWA protections would extend to the drinking water sources of 117 million people across the United States – every one in three Americans.  

Despite this – earlier this year, President Trump urged the EPA to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This rule would rollback the new definition adopted in 2015, reverting us back to the less protective definitions of WOTUS that have been in place since the 1970s.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake joined over one hundred other Waterkeeper organizations across the United States in signing onto Waterkeeper Alliance’s comments on these detrimental rollbacks. Waterkeeper Alliance took a comprehensive look at the EPA’s proposed rescinding of the rule and found that it violates requirements under the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and Executive Order 13778. Further, Waterkeeper Alliance noted that neither EPA nor the Corps provided meaningful public participation required under federal law for these types of actions. The comments went on to state:

These failures are not mere technicalities and, if unaddressed, will severely undermine or eliminate fundamental CWA protections across the country – endangering our nation’s water resources…It would be difficult to overstate the critical importance of the CWA regulatory definition of “waters of the United States,” and thus this Proposed Rule, to the protection of human health, the wellbeing of communities, the success of local, state and national economies, and the functioning of our nation’s vast, interconnected aquatic ecosystems, as well as the many threatened and endangered species that depend upon those resources. If a stream, river, lake, or wetland is not included in the definition of “waters of the United States,” untreated toxic, biological, chemical, and radiological pollution can be discharged directly into those waters without meeting any of the CWA’s permitting and treatment requirements. Excluded waterways could be dredged, filled and polluted with impunity because the CWA’s most fundamental human health and environmental safeguard – the prohibition on unauthorized discharges in 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a) – would no longer apply. Because “isolated” waterways do not exist in reality but are merely a legal fiction of recent vintage, unregulated pollution discharged into waterways that fall outside the Agencies’ definition will not only harm those receiving waters, but will often travel through well-known hydrologic processes before harming other water resources, drinking water supplies, recreational waters, fisheries, industries, agriculture, and, ultimately, human beings.

In the Chesapeake region, streams and tributaries in the upper reaches of the Susquehanna, Potomac, Shenandoah, James and many other rivers would not receive protections under the Clean Water Act if the repeal of the Clean Water Rule is upheld. The repeal will mean more pollution to the lakes and streams we rely on for drinking water supply or for fishing and swimming, and a green light for the rampant destruction of wetlands that prevent dangerous flooding.

Clean water is essential for the health and sustainability of our families, communities and environment. Lest we forget -- we all live downstream. We have a responsibility, as a nation, to control pollution at its source and protect the drinking water sources of all residents – regardless of where they live. 

Waterkeepers Chesapeake will keep you informed with any updates on this rollback as we continue to fight its implementation.

To read the full comments, click here. 

In late August, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of a Southeastern natural gas pipeline under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Court found that FERC failed to quantify the climate impacts that would result from burning the natural gas that the Sabal Trail pipeline would deliver to power plants in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

According to the Court, FERC’s environmental impact statement (required under NEPA) for the project “should have either given a quantitative estimate of the downstream greenhouse emissions that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport or explained more specifically why it could not have done so… As we have noted, greenhouse-gas emissions are an indirect effect of authorizing this project, which FERC could reasonably foresee, and which the agency has legal authority to mitigate.”

The Court reasoned that quantifying greenhouse gas pollution from pipeline projects would enable FERC to compare potential emissions to other projects and to the total emissions from the state, region, and nation for emissions-control goals. This information is essential for ‘informed decision making’ and ‘informed public comment,’ according to the Court.

“The D.C. Circuit’s decision is long overdue – for too long FERC has rubberstamped project after project from the natural gas industry without fully considering the significant climate change impacts that these projects will cause. This is the first case in a line of cases to successfully challenge FERC’s lack of consideration for increased greenhouse gas emissions that result from major projects like this pipeline,” said Waterkeepers Chesapeake’s Executive Director, Betsy Nicholas.

For years, environmental organizations have argued that FERC must consider climate change impacts and greenhouse gas emissions when reviewing major projects, like the Sabal Trail pipeline.

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Earthjustice, and other environmental groups led one of the more recent challenges against FERC for failing to consider potential climate change impacts that would result from increased fracking due to the construction and operation of a fracked gas export facility in southern Maryland. Dominion Energy’s Cove Point facility is poised to cause more greenhouse gas pollution than all of Maryland’s coal-fired power plants combined. While, the Court ultimately found that FERC was not required to consider ‘indirect effects’ like increased fracking and associated climate impacts in its approval of the facility – this case was important in that it introduced the Court to the potential impacts that arise from fossil fuels infrastructure.

More info: