Stop Cove Point: Largest Environmental Protest in Baltimore History Calls on Leaders to Reject Radical Fracked Gas Export Plan

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from Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Today, as a key state permit hearing began in downtown Baltimore, activists from every corner of Maryland and from across the Mid-Atlantic marched from a nearby plaza to the doorstep of the Public Service Commission to send one clear message to state leaders: “Stop Cove Point.” This controversial $3.8 billion project, proposed by Virginia-based Dominion Resources, would take gas from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it along the Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland, and export it to Asia.

The nearly 1,000-strong demonstration, estimated to be the largest environmental protest in Baltimore city history, united people whose land, homes and health are threatened by the new regionwide wave of harmful fracking, climate change pollution, and explosion-prone gas infrastructure that Dominion’s plan could trigger. Analysis shows that the process of drilling, piping, liquefying and exporting gas is as bad as—or worse—for the climate than burning coal. In fact, Cove Point would become the single biggest trigger of planet-heating pollution in the state of Maryland.

Rally participants literally carried their “Stop Cove Point” message to the Public Service Commission—marching a 100-foot-long gas pipeline prop emblazoned with those words around the agency’s headquarters. Inside, attorneys representing environmental groups testified against Dominion’s application for a permit to build a 130-megawatt gas-fired “liquefaction” complex at Cove Point. By every measure—including raising prices for ratepayers, impacting air and water, and degrading local quality of life—they argued that Dominion’s plan would overwhelmingly benefit the gas industry at the expense of Maryland’s economy and environment.

Demonstrators also called for leadership, not more silence, from Maryland’s elected officials, especially Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski. Speakers called on them to ensure that federal regulators give the people of Maryland the full and customary Environmental Impact Statement typically required for a project of Cove Point’s size and scope—the type of review backed by 81 percent of Maryland voters in a recent poll.

Statements from speakers at Thursday’s rally included:

Josh Tulkin, director, Maryland Sierra Club: “We know it will take a movement to go up against the deep pockets of Dominion, and that movement is here today, representing people from across Maryland and the region who know the major impacts of this project in their local communities. From the streets to the courts, we’ll continue challenging Dominion every step of the way. The stakes for our bay, our communities, and our climate are simply too high to do anything less.”

Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr., CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus: “The climate crisis is our lunch-counter moment of the 21st century. If we don’t win this one, we all lose. Yet now Dominion is standing at Maryland’s door, trying to block its path to a fossil-free future. Today, we send this message to Dominion: We will organize, we will mobilize, we will fight in every peaceful way possible to ensure clean solar panels and wind turbines crisscross our region – not your planet-wrecking vision of new fracking wells, pipelines, and compressors.”

Tracey Eno, spokesperson for Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community and a homeowner living within 1.5 miles of Dominion’s proposed export facility: “Dominion bombards our community daily with high-priced ads, but refuses to answer basic questions about our safety. The small town of Lusby can’t take on a corporation as wealthy and powerful as Dominion alone, which is why I’m so grateful to see people from all across the state standing with us today. Now we’re asking our top leaders, like Senators Cardin and Mikulski, to stand with us, too, by demanding a full federal Environmental Impact Statement. Only by hiding the truth, can Dominion justify the severe risks it wants to bring to our serene community.”

Maya Van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper: “People bused and carpooled here today from as far as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York because we’ve seen enough communities destroyed by the gas industry and Cove Point threatens to dramatically increase the toll. While corporations like Dominion would make bigger profits, our communities will be left with the growing impacts of polluted wells, dirty air, scarred lands, lost forests and dangerous pipelines.”

Rebecca Ruggles, director, Maryland Environmental Health Network: “Dominion’s ads say they want to answer our questions. But from a health perspective there is a long list of unanswered questions, ranging from noise pollution to the warming of the bay, from air pollution to climate threats, and with impacts on communities from Lusby to Myersville to Oakland. Why are we not pursuing clean, healthy energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, the ones that we already know are best for our climate and for our health?”

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “We’re gathered here as one movement not simply to stop Cove Point, but to secure a livable future for our children. Cove Point is a short-sighted, radical plan that threatens all of us with rising pollution, rising prices and rising seas—all to ship the energy overseas. The Public Service Commission can only serve the Maryland public by rejecting Dominion’s permit.”

Organizations supporting the “Stop Cove Point” rally include: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Americans Against Fracking, Assateague Coastal Trust, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Citizen Shale, Clean Air Council, CREDO Action, DC Divest, Earthjustice, Environment Maryland, Food and Water Watch, Green America, Hip Hop Caucus, HoCo Climate Change, Interfaith Power & Light, Maryland Environmental Health Network, Maryland Sierra Club, Transition Howard County, Sane Energy Project, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and 350.

Speakers at the rally included: State Delegate Heather Mizeur • Josh Tulkin, Director of Maryland Sierra Club • Fred Tutman, CEO of Patuxent River Keeper • Rebecca Ruggles, Director of Maryland Environmental Health Network • Emily Wurth, Water Program Director, Food and Water Watch • Karen Feridun, co-founder, Berks Gas Truth • Joelle Novey, Director of Interfaith Power and Light (MD.DC.NoVA) • Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus • Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network • Maya Van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper • Nadine Grabania, founding member, Citizen Shale • Ted Cady, Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community •Tracy Eno, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community • Ashok Chandwaney, senior at Saint Mary’s College of Maryland • Lois Gibbs, Director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice

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