Major Environmental Groups Urge MDE to Investigate Full Risks of Pipeline

Alarmed with the Potential Detriment to the Environment, Coalition Calls for Assessment, Rejection of TransCanada’s Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project

Baltimore, MD — On Tuesday August 8, a letter signed by 18 state and local environmental organizations was delivered to Secretary Ben Grumbles of the Maryland Department of the Environment. The signatories demand that MDE use its authority to conduct a thorough evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of TransCanada’s proposed Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project pipeline. The letter suggests that once MDE diligently carries out its obligation to Marylanders to examine the full impacts, the agency will see no other option than to reject the proposed pipeline project. The letter asserts that MDE will find rejecting the project will be the only way to protect the health of Maryland’s waterways and communities.

This four-mile pipeline would bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, and would travel through Maryland, just west of Hancock. The proposed path of the pipeline crosses directly under the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, the primary drinking water source for more than 6 million people.

The letter asks:

We urge MDE not to rush through its review of this Project. Protection of Maryland’s streams, rivers, and wetlands is too important to place at risk. MDE must take the time needed to ensure it has all necessary information, review that information, give the public an opportunity to thoroughly review and comment on the information at a public hearing, and then conduct a thorough and transparent analysis of the significant potential impacts of the Project on critical water crossings and all related upland and downstream activities.

Overwhelming scientific evidence, along with the recent § 401 certification denials for two proposed pipeline in New York State, confirm the inherent public health and environmental dangers with pipelines and associated infrastructure. This Project will likely have significant adverse impacts on water quality, aquatic habitat, and public health, especially when considered together with the cumulative impacts of the proposed Mountaineer Gas pipeline in West Virginia. Yet Maryland will not gain any benefits from the pipeline’s construction and operation. If MDE cannot impose conditions adequate to minimize these impacts, it should consider denying the application. Given the recent concerns and problems using HDD to construct pipelines in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the unique geologic features present in this Project, we are gravely concerned that no set of conditions will be adequate. We firmly believe that, once MDE conducts its required § 401 certification analysis in the proper, comprehensive manner dictated by the Clean Water Act, it will ultimately conclude that certification for this Project is not warranted.

Signatories of the letter include:

AMP Creeks Council

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility

Clean Water Action

Earthworks

Food & Water Watch

Howard County Climate Action

Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association

Maryland Conservation Council

Maryland Environmental Health Network

Maryland Sierra Club

Nature Abounds

Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Savage River Watershed Association

Upper Potomac Riverkeeper

Waterkeepers Chesapeake

We Are Cove Point

DOWNLOAD FULL LETTER to MDE

Contacts: Denise Robbins, CCAN, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-396-2022

Phillip Musegaas, PRKN, 202-888-4929, phillip@prknetwork.org.

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