On February 20th, Baltimore was the site of what turned out to be the largest rally that city had ever seen. That’s pretty remarkable, considering that it was a lunchtime rally on a weekday during a particularly harsh winter. We’re getting ready for another rally, this time in Washington D.C. on July 13th, and we’re confident the crowd will be several times the size of the crowd that day in Baltimore. We came together then and will come together again to protest the proposed Cove Point LNG facility.
Marylanders have led the charge against the facility that would be situated in an area with one road in and one road out, an area wherein nearly 2500 people live within a mile of the proposed site and they’ve organized against the pipeline that would carry the gas to Cove Point, impacting communities along the way.
We’re confident we’ll draw a huge crowd on July 13th, not just because the stakes are higher. (They are. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s initial assessment of the facility’s environmental impacts is that there aren’t any.) The difference this time will be that people from Pennsylvania and other gas-producing states will be there in force to say no to a project that will profoundly impact our own communities as well as those of our friends in Maryland.
LNG = more fracking. More fracking = more pipelines and compressor stations. And all of that = more leaks, spills, blowouts, blowdowns, traffic accidents, illnesses, injuries, lost quality of life, lost property value, and so much more. Last December, Cabot Oil & Gas announced the deal they’d struck with Sumitomo to supply gas liquefied at Cove Point to Japan for 20 years, the kind of deal that would really solidify the company’s position in the Marcellus, they said.
Cabot Oil & Gas? I’d be laughing if I wasn’t screaming. After all, Cabot Oil & Gas is a case study in recidivism enabled by the spectacular failure that is our government. I spoke about Cabot at the rally in Baltimore. I didn’t speak about the government. I’ll do that here.
In my talk, I noted that Cabot Oil & Gas is the company responsible for contaminating the water supplies of several families on Carter Road in Dimock. The company was forced to decommission three wells and was barred from doing any more drilling in Dimock. That’s about all the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection got right.
The PA DEP required the company to provide replacement water, but backed down after three years when Cabot decided to stop its deliveries. The agency barred Cabot from drilling in Dimock, but not anywhere else in the state despite the fact that the company has racked up hundreds of violations throughout the state. And even though the PA DEP now considers Dimock to be a sensitive area, they haven’t stopped anyone but Cabot from drilling there.
The federal regulators are no better. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency abruptly ended its investigation into water contamination in Dimock the same year the agency took similar actions in Parker County, Texas and Pavillion, Wyoming. Last summer, the Los Angeles Times obtained a PowerPoint presentation from the EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia that revealed that “staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic, most likely because of local natural gas production.” Since then, residents of the communities in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming have tried repeatedly to get a meeting with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to make their personal appeals to have the investigations re-opened.
When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission turns a blind eye to the environmental risks inherent in LNG production, it is not even taking into consideration the upstream impacts on communities in the gas fields, communities that have been failed at every turn by those elected, appointed or hired to protect them.
And so I am inviting all my friends in the Marcellus, the Utica, and all the places where fracking doesn’t happen, but natural gas infrastructure build-out does, to join me in Washington, D.C. on July 13th when we’ll say Stop Fracked Gas Exports! Register today at stopgasexports.org and be sure to sign up for transportation if you need it! See you in D.C.!