No Potomac Pipeline Campaign
In 2016, behind the scenes, without public input, a West Virginia gas company called Mountaineer Gas quietly laid the groundwork for a fracked gas pipeline that would threaten the Potomac River and the National Park Service’s C&O Canal, one of the most visited national parks. Residents in Morgan County, WV became aware of the pipeline proposal only after landmen requested access to properties for routing of the pipeline. Mountaineer Gas began bullying residents with ultimatums and eminent domain after receiving conditional approval from the WV Public Service Commission to route their gas line. The route proposed would cross five streams, all of which is in Karst geology. Karst geology is limestone that can rapidly dissolve and form pathways between the surface and groundwater, including streams. Pipelines do leak and in Karst geology pose a risk to private wells, cause stream contamination and stream flow loss, and develop sinkholes that can threaten the integrity of the pipeline.
The proposal Mountaineer Gas submitted to WV Public Service Commission is for construction of a multi-million dollar pipeline from an existing line in the Martinsburg area west to Berkeley Springs and east to Jefferson County. This pipeline is contingent on the approval and construction of a TransCanada gas pipeline from Pennsylvania. The TransCanada gas pipeline would route south from Bedford, PA to Hancock, MD, under the C&O Canal and Potomac River, finally ending in the Berkeley Springs, WV area. Columbia Gas is currently communicating with the National Park Service to be granted a right-of-way access to drill under Park property.
There is a real risk of this combined pipeline project to the Potomac River, the drinking water source for over 6 million people, and a risk to several high quality West Virginia streams and to private property in both Maryland and West Virginia.
On October 4, 2016, environmental groups, including Potomac Riverkeeper Network, filed a motion to intervene in the Mountaineer Gas appeal. Our intention was to bring the potential of environmental damage into the case. In addition, the community gathered and submitted over 60 letters of protest to the proposed gas line. On October 23rd, over 50 people gathered in Hancock to protest the pipeline.
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and groups in West Virginia ran a success letter writing campaign targeted at the National Park Service to demand that the NPS make the right-of-way permit request from TransCanada a public process. The NPS responded by delaying a response to TransCanada’s request and promising to incorporate public participation in any consideration of the pipeline project. On February 9, 2017, TransCanada held an informational session in Hancock and over a 100 people participated in a “silent protest.”
Since that time there have been numerous actions, including roving encampments during the summer, opposing the pipeline (see updates below).
The December 19th Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) hearing in Hancock, MD, was absolutely packed with opponents of the pipeline. Over two hundred attended, and the majority spoke in opposition. And because of this MDE scheduled a second hearing on January 22nd at the Hancock High School from 6-10 p.m.in Hancock, MD (snow date — January 25).
Yes, MDE is holding a second public hearing, but they are playing fast and loose with the truth on the 401 process. Several nonprofit groups and residents, including us, boycotted this hearing: 18 Groups Call for Boycott of Hearing and Call for Action from MDE.
Local Jurisdiction & Utility Opposition to Pipeline
- Boonsboro, MD
- DC City Council
- DC Water
- Montgomery County, MD
- Washington County, MD
- Prince George’s County, MD
In 3-1-1 Vote, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Dismissed Concerns Raised by Upper Potomac Riverkeeper on Water and Climate Change Impacts Posed by Fracked Gas Pipeline. Read the press release with our response here.
I’ve had a chance to review the Potomac Pipeline permit approval issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and I have some more thoughts. I continue to emphasize my disappointment – we simply don’t need this pipeline and I would say that even if there weren’t considerable risks to the Potomac River, the […]
We keep trying! But, boy, are we disappointed. While we were trying to get the attention of Governor Hogan and Secretary Ben Grumbles of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), we learned that they were intent on ignoring us all along, by leaving the decision on the Potomac Pipeline to the Army Corps of […]
Grumbles’ Letter to the Army Corps of Engineers
I wrote last week that PRKN was preparing its extensive and necessary comments to the Environmental Assessment prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and here they are! Thanks to Phillip Musegaas, our volunteer attorneys, and our partners who helped with this complex analysis and the preparation of this important product, in our continuing fight […]
Washington, DC – February 27 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) submitted its comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Potomac Pipeline today and called out the agency for a variety of failures of analysis, including outdated methodologies, reliance on inaccurate or unsupported facts, and unwarranted conclusions. “For over a […]
As we at PRKN prepare to submit our comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Potomac Pipeline, we want to make sure our fellow pipeline opponents know about the serious problems we’ve identified in the EA. Remember that the comments are due Monday, February 26, so join in and help us […]
Hundreds of concerned citizens from Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, DC and as far away as Pennsylvania turned out last night to raise their voices in a rally in Annapolis to tell Governor Hogan NO POTOMAC PIPELINE! The event kicked-off with a rally at Lawyer’s Mall followed by hundreds waving signs and chanting No Potomac […]
We need your help to send a strong message to Governor Larry Hogan telling him that he needs to do his job and stop the Potomac Pipeline! Maryland has until mid-March, 2018 to issue a decision about TransCanada’s application to build a pipeline under the Potomac River. That’s less than two months away, yet […]
Join Us at Our Rally in Annapolis to Oppose Potomac Fracked Gas Pipeline Threatening the Drinking Water for Millions
Join us the evening of February 15 with concerned citizens of Maryland, Washington, DC, West Virginia and Virginia as we raise our voices in a rally on Lawyer’s Mall (in front of the State House), and then march to encircle the Governor’s Mansion! We will rally at Lawyer’s Mall and then march to the Mansion where we […]
I wanted to be sure that everyone had a chance to look at the Potomac Pipeline Environmental Assessment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Comments are due by February 26. You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature located on the Commission’s website under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method […]
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT SAYS NO PERMIT NEEDED FOR DRILLING UNDER POTOMAC TO BUILD PIPELINE
Refuses to Consider Risk of Spill to Drinking Water for Six Million Washington, DC – January 29 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network is calling on the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) to deny a state Nontidal Wetlands Permit for the controversial Potomac pipeline, after learning that MDE purposely exempted environmental review of impacts to the Potomac and […]
The December 19th Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) hearing in Hancock, MD, was absolutely packed with opponents of the pipeline. Over two hundred attended, and the majority spoke in opposition. And because of this MDE scheduled a second hearing on January 22nd at the Hancock High School from 6-10 p.m.in Hancock, MD (snow date — January 25). Yes, MDE is holding […]
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 […]