I’m writing to urge you to send a letter to the National Park Service about a proposed fracked gas pipeline that will threaten the Potomac River and the National Park Service’s C&O Canal.
A West Virginia gas company called Mountaineer Gas is seeking permission to build 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 the Columbia Gas pipeline, another new line that would run south from Bedford, PA to Hancock, MD, under the C&O Canal and Potomac River, finally ending in the Berkeley Springs, WV area.
Without any public notice, Columbia Gas is currently in talks with the National Park Service to obtain a right-of-way access to drill under federally owned Park Service property. While no formal public notice is required, the Park Service has the authority to voluntarily seek public input for projects that affect public land under its jurisdiction.
The Mountaineer Gas pipeline would be build entirely in West Virginia, which means it is only subject to state oversight and needs no federal agency approval to proceed. In fact, despite outcry from local residents about the company’s bullying tactics and eminent domain threats, Mountaineer Gas has obtained conditional approval from the WV Public Service Commission to build their project.
West Virginia communities have voiced their opposition to this unneeded and harmful project to bring cheap fracked gas from Pennsylvania into the state, and are joining Marylanders in the fight against the Columbia Gas pipeline.
The National Park Service (NPS) has granted Columbia Gas a right-of-entry to survey. There has been no public information about talks between Columbia Gas and NPS or the request for the right-of-entry authorization.
On October 23, over 50 people gathered in Hancock, MD to protest the Columbia Gas pipeline and the lack of public participation in the right-to-entry request to the National Park Service.
These interrelated gas pipeline projects pose a real risk to the Potomac River, the drinking water source for over 6 million people, and to several pristine West Virginia trout streams.
There have been more than 200 pipeline spills in the U.S. so far this year, and a 26.8% increase in pipeline spills since 2006.
Just as troubling is the fact that these companies are going behind closed doors and using old school bullying tactics to gain access to public and private property in Maryland and West Virginia.
It is our right as citizens and members of the public to have a voice, and be involved when a gas company seeks a right-of-entry to national park property for their private financial gain at the cost of risking the public’s ability to use and enjoy one of the most visited national parks of the country.
I am asking you to join Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and send a letter to the National Park Service, to express your concern about a new, unnecessary pipeline that threatens the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, and to call on Park Service officials to open up this process to the public immediately.
Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeepe
p.s. Want to use snail mail? Here are the NPS addresses.