Waterkeepers Chesapeake Denounces Federal Ruling On Cove Point Gas Export Facility

Federal regulator approves massive $3.8 billion construction of liquefied natural gas export facility on the Chesapeake Bay without considering all environmental and safety impacts

For immediate release

September 30, 2014

Washington, DC – Waterkeepers Chesapeake denounces yesterday’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to authorize the controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility proposed at Cove Point in southern Maryland. Waterkeepers across the Chesapeake Bay region say that FERC’s decision fails to address the LNG export facility’s role in speeding fracking across the region, polluting the Bay, worsening the climate crisis, and threatening the safety of nearby residents in Calvert County with potential explosion and fire catastrophes.

There has been widespread criticism of FERC’s Environmental Assessment (EA) for Dominion Cove Point LNG’s plan to convert an existing import facility into an export facility and to pipe fracked gas from the Marcellus shale region to southern Maryland, liquefy it, and export it to be burned in Japan and India. The agency’s failure to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement ignores the foreseeable cumulative impacts this project would have on the environment and local economies throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Any thorough and credible examination of the impacts of this project pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) will show that the public and the environment will come out a significant loser, while the gas industry profits.

“In the rush to export our natural gas, public officials and agencies are failing to protect the health and safety of the residents of Calvert County and people throughout the Chesapeake region, “ said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “Upstream impacts of fracking, and new and expanded pipelines and compressor stations are being ignored. Economic impacts to local and regional economies are being ignored. Pollution impacts to the Bay, the Patuxent River and upstream rivers, streams and drinking water sources are being ignored. It’s difficult not to conclude that our public officials just don’t care.”

FERC’s authorization includes approval of the installation of additional compression at Dominion’s existing Pleasant Valley Compressor Station and related facilities located in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Northern Virginia. This is a stark example of the upstream impacts of the Cove Point LNG export facility that have been minimized and ignored.

“Even the EPA said that FERC should weigh gas production stimulus effect of the Cove Point export facility,” said Robin Broder, Waterkeepeers Chesapeake. “But somehow FERC concluded it was ‘not feasible to more specifically evaluate localized environmental impacts’ even though Dominion knows where it will source the fracked gas and knows that new compressor and pipeline capacity will be built. Our public agencies and elected officials are not serving the public’s interest and are sacrificing our waterways.”

Waterkeepers Chesapeake is assessing legal options to support the groups, including local Waterkeepers, intervening in the FERC permitting process. Waterkeepers Chesapeake will continue to fight for a truly democratic process responsive to local communities, and fight against this regulatory process that has been subverted by the natural gas industry. Working with the Cove Point Emergency Coalition, grassroots opposition to this reckless project will continue, including increased pressure on elective state and federal officials who have stood on the sidelines as a federal agency rubber stamped this massive energy project on the shores of the Bay.

Contact: Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, 202-423-0504, betsy@waterkeeperschesapeake.org

Robin Broder, 703-786-8172, robin@waterkeeperschesapeake.org