Four Arrested Blocking Courthouse in Renewed Cove Point Protest

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from Southern Maryland News

 

One week following a peaceful sit-in that led to four arrests in Cumberland, four central Maryland residents were arrested today outside the Frederick County Courthouse protesting Virginia-based Dominion Resources’ plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in southern

Maryland. With signs reading “FERC: Don’t Bully Frederick Co.” and “We Demand Justice for Myersville,” the four protesters—including a county commission candidate, an asthma sufferer, a mother, and a Frederick resident who grew up playing baseball in Cove Point Park—blocked the courthouse entrance and demanded a full and fair federal environmental impact review of Dominion’s controversial $3.8 billion plan.

From Cumberland to Frederick, protesters are drawing attention to the interconnected, statewide impacts that could be triggered by the Cove Point export facility, including the invasion of dangerous gas fracking wells and related gas pipeline and compressor infrastructure.

“Dominion doesn’t respect the wishes of the citizens of Myersville, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is failing to protect the public,” said Steve Bruns, a Frederick resident who is running for a seat on the county commission. “Dominion has sued the Town of Myersville and the Maryland Department of the Environment to force its gas compressor project on our county. This sort of contempt for the health and safety of the people of Maryland is unacceptable in a democratic society. Our government isn’t getting the message, so we’re here today to crank up the volume.”

5319285f2cdd0.preview-300In Frederick County, Dominion Transmission is seeking to build a 16,000-horsepower gas compressor station less than a mile from the Myersville town center and elementary school. The project is fiercely opposed by local residents and was unanimously rejected by the town council in 2012 for its pollution, noise and safety risks. However, after receiving a rubber-stamp permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Dominion sued the town and state of Maryland to force the project through. The Myersville compressor station is part of the web of fossil fuel infrastructure that Dominion could use to pipe gas from fracking wells across Appalachia to southern Maryland, where the gas would be liquefied and exported to Asia.

“In Maryland, all roads lead to Cove Point, and yet we can’t even get a thorough review for a facility that would power the world with fracked gas,” said Elisabeth Hoffman, a resident of Clarksville, Maryland and a mother of two. “I am here for my friends in western Maryland who fight every day out of fear for fracking’s toll on their water, land and health. I am here for my friends in Myersville who have been sued by Dominion because they are resisting the compressor station for fracked gas within a mile of their town’s elementary school and evacuation center. I’m here for Calvert County residents who are fighting Dominion’s export facility even as our regulators and elected officials resist a full review of the consequences.”

The protesters expressed deep concern that FERC, after paving the way for Dominion’s Myersville compressor project, is now fast-tracking a rubber-stamp approval for Dominion’s full Cove Point plan. Despite calls made by dozens of environmental, health and faith leaders, Maryland citizens, and Maryland’s Attorney General, the federal agency has refused to commit to conducting a full Environmental Impact Statement for the Cove Point facility. Experts assert that a less rigorous “Environmental Assessment” would fail to account for the domino effect of rising gas prices, expanded fracking, new pipelines and compressor stations and, ultimately, significant new carbon pollution that the Cove Point project could trigger region-wide.

“I played baseball every year at Cove Point Park, not 500 feet from the proposed Dominion LNG export facility. It was a great place to grow up,” said Sweet Dee, a Frederick resident. “But Dominion’s plan now threatens to turn my hometown and towns across Maryland into the next sacrifice zones of the gas industry. The Cove Point facility and the proposed compressor station at Myersville are setting the stage. I’m engaging in civil disobedience today because this place and these people mean too much to me to stand by and watch that happen.”

Dominion’s Cove Point export plan has sparked growing opposition across Maryland. A public hearing held by the Maryland Public Service Commission in Calvert County on Saturday drew more than 700 people. News reports indicate that a full two-thirds of those testifying spoke out in opposition to the project. In late February, a record crowd of environmental protesters converged in downtown Baltimore to protest Cove Point.

“I have asthma and live in Frederick, Maryland where the levels of air pollution are nearly as bad as Baltimore,” said Joanna LaFollette, a Frederick resident and mother. “The time is now to demand help from our Maryland leaders in the US Congress, at the state level and at the Public Service Commission. Are we ready to pay the price of potential health problems created from air pollution from the industrialization of what were once small rural areas in Maryland as well as the Chesapeake Bay?”

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