Environmentalists take their fight against Conowingo Dam license to federal court

Environmentalists take their fight against Conowingo Dam license to federal court, The Baltimore Sun, Christine Condon, June 21, 2021

The groups, including Waterkeepers Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, filed a petition urging the appeals court for the D.C. District to reverse the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision this spring to grant Exelon a new 50-year license to operate the hydroelectric dam. They argue the new license ignores some of the dam’s most damaging environmental impacts, and doesn’t do enough to compel Exelon to address or compensate for them. That, they contend, is a violation of environmental laws.

The dam, located along the Susquehanna River near where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay, has trapped a large amount of sediment and debris for years. But now, the reservoir behind it is largely full, so pollutants now continue downstream and into the bay. And when big storms come, large amounts of nutrients are released all at once, burying aquatic life and spurring the overgrowth of algae, which sucks oxygen from the water and creates dead zones in the bay.