Gunpowder Riverkeeper Refuses to Compromise Settlement Terms with Columbia Gas

Congratulations to the Gunpowder Riverkeeper Theaux Gardeur for ensuring that Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC will conduct fish sampling required by a recent settlement agreement. 

On March 16th, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County entered a settlement resolving litigation among the Gunpowder Riverkeeper, Columbia, and the Maryland Department of the Environment over a 21 mile natural gas pipeline that Columbia is constructing from Baltimore County to Harford County.  The pipeline will cross 81 streams that collectively provide drinking water to approximately 1.8 million residents in the Baltimore area and support sensitive trout species. 

As part of the settlement, Columbia agreed to conduct fish sampling at five streams before they are crossed by the pipeline.  A primary purpose of this “before” sampling is to provide baseline data that will allow the Riverkeeper and the public to more precisely understand the water quality impacts that result from the construction activities. 

Columbia obtained a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to conduct the sampling, but standard DNR protocol requires this type of work to occur after June 1.  Not wanting to delay their construction project by approximately 30 days, Columbia asked the Gunpowder Riverkeeper to agree to waive the sampling requirement. 

The Riverkeeper said no, and filed an emergency motion with the court to enforce the settlement.  In response to that motion, Columbia agreed to alter its construction schedule and to perform the sampling.

The Gunpowder Riverkeeper’s refusal to back down ensures that important data will be gathered, and it sends a clear message to Columbia that it will be held accountable for fulfilling all its settlement obligations. 

Chesapeake Legal Alliance volunteer attorneys Ross Phillips and William Anderson assisted the Gunpowder Riverkeeper with this matter.