Take Action Now: Insist the Superintendent of the C&O Canal denies a right of way permit to TransCanada for the Potomac Pipeline

For those of you following the developments of the Potomac Pipeline – and I hope that’s all of you – you probably know that the National Park Service (NPS) has yet to issue its Right of Way (ROW) permit for TransCanada to begin construction. Nor has the Maryland Board of Public Works issued its permit for construction on DNR property.

However, on September 21, TransCanada submitted a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to request authority to begin construction on other sections of the pipeline, not under the jurisdiction of NPS or the Board of Public Works.

What we need is your help in a letter writing campaign to NPS C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt, to urge – no, insist – that NPS does not issue the ROW permit.

You know the issues:

  • Risk of pollution to the Potomac
  • Risk of impact to the C&O Canal from a blow out
  • Risk to destruction of historical property
  • Risk of pollution to thousands of private wells
  • Risk of destruction to personal property
  • Risk of continuous threat of a natural gas explosion

If NPS issues the ROW permit, they will absolutely be allowing these risks to occur. Because the Potomac Pipeline would cross the C&O Canal, which is owned and managed by the National Park Service, TransCanada must obtain a right of way from the federal government to cross that federally owned land. FERC’s approval preempts State siting authority, which has a similar effect as exercising eminent domain OVER private property. FERC, however, cannot preempt another federal agency’s control over its property. And what’s more, the horizontal directional drilling proposed by TransCanada has NEVER been used to cross the Potomac and especially in an area known for its Karst geology.

So, please, write to Superintendent Brandt at the National Park Service (kevin_brandt@nps.gov or 1850 Dual Highway, #100, Hagerstown, MD 21740). Tell him that your health and safety, and that of your fellow citizens simply is not worth the risk of piping fracked natural gas, which is not produced in Maryland and will not be used in Maryland.

Here’s a sample letter. But try to personalize it – use your home location, mention something specific about why this is important to you personally.

Dear Superintendent Brandt:

I write to urge that you use your position as Superintendent of the C&O Canal to deny issuing a right of way permit to TransCanada for the Potomac Pipeline.

You know the risks associated with the pipeline and its construction.

• Risk of destruction to personal property
• Risk of pollution to thousands of private wells
• Risk to destruction of historical property
• Risk of pollution to the Potomac
• Risk of continuous threat of a natural gas explosion
• Risk of impact to the C&O Canal from a blow out

None of these is trivial and each of them affects my family and me personally. Is the risk of any of these really worth a pipeline which carried fracked natural gas, not produced in Maryland and which will not be used in Maryland? The answer is certainly no.

The National Park Service is charged with “providing for the enjoyment of the scenery, natural and historic objects and wildlife in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Your agency has sole federal authority over the federal property through which this pipeline will be constructed. Surely, given the risks, you will not allow that? By denying the right of way permit, you will protect historical property, for the benefit of the public, and which millions of people all over the world come to visit.

We as the public need NPS to defend our right to protect a historical treasure such as the C&O canal.

Thank you.

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