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Environmental Groups Call For Rejection Of Cove Point Expansion

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Protesters gathered in War Memorial Plaza in Baltimore to protest a proposed expansion of a natural gas export facility.
Jonathan Wilson/WAMU
Protesters gathered in War Memorial Plaza in Baltimore to protest a proposed expansion of a natural gas export facility.

The Maryland Public Service commission is in the midst of deciding whether Dominion can move forward with a $3.8 billion expansion of its Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Calvert County and environmental groups continue to put pressure on state officials to reject the plan.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on War Memorial Plaza in downtown Baltimore, many holding signs with anti-fracking slogans, or mini cardboard windmills to show their support for energy alternatives.

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, compared the current fight to stop Dominion's natural gas export plans to the battle, decades ago, to get the truth out about the health risks of tobacco.

"And that's why we need an Environmental Impact Statement, because it is the equivalent of a Surgeon General's report," Tidwell said. "We need a Surgeon General's report for Cove Point, when that comes out, Marylanders will be appalled and repelled by this idea and it won't get built."

But Dominion maintains that voices like Tidwell's are simply a vocal minority, and point out that exporting more natural gas is part of the President's clean energy agenda.

Jeff Guido is a spokesman for the Maryland state pipe trades association — a union whose members would get many of the thousands of construction jobs that would come with the project. He says the economic benefits of Cove Point would ripple across the state.

"We need it, we need it bad," Guido said. "You'll see that when a construction worker goes to work, and he knows he's got some employment in front of him — they're all gonna go out and buy a new pick up truck, it's just what we do."

After this week's evidentiary hearing, the Public Service Commission will gather input from residents close to Cove point at a public hearing in Lusby on March 1.

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