MD Matters, Eastern Shore Pipeline Receives Final Approval From Bd. of Public Works
, unless Joe Biden decides they don't deserve one.
The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday unanimously approved the
last key step for the extension of a controversial natural gas pipeline into
The pipeline already exists in Delaware and
Wicomico County in Maryland, and the first part of the project was
OK’d last month, after three hours of public testimony, to extend the pipeline by seven
miles from Wicomico into Somerset County.
Now the recently
approved wetlands license would allow Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, a
natural gas company based in Delaware, to further extend the pipeline by 11
miles, reaching the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the Eastern
Correctional Institute, as well as residents and businesses along the line.
The utility would drill beneath the Manokin River, Taylor Branch and Kings
Wednesday’s BPW hearing renewed the debates over moving
towards a renewable future and achieving economic justice for Somerset
County, although comments were technically limited to the project’s wetlands
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) recognized
environmentalists who have
raised environmental justice concerns
over the project and have argued that this pipeline runs counter to the
state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. While
fracking has been banned in Maryland, green groups have suggested that the
state should not be agreeing to purchase potentially fracked gas for an
extended period of time.
When people mention "environmental" justice, I check my wallet.
“I just want to salute the environmental
advocates who disagree with us on this particular project because I think
they’re right, that natural gas and fossil fuels are on their way out,”
Franchot said. “And we’re going to get to a renewable future with net-zero
Last month, board members said they saw
natural gas as a “bridge” fuel to cleaner renewable energy sources in the
But Josh Tulkin, director of Maryland’s Sierra Club,
asserted that “we cannot simply make baby steps in the fight against climate
“We do not have 40 to 50 years for bridge fuels,” he
But Franchot said he also recognized that this
pipeline was more about economic justice for Somerset County, which is one
of the three counties in the state that does not have access to natural gas.
The county, which is 41% Black and the poorest county in the state, has
reportedly missed out on many economic opportunities because of it and
deserves the same benefit from the electric grid that most other Marylanders
get, Franchot said.
“I think we have to realize that that this is
an incremental process we’re going through here,” Franchot continued. “I
think the overall goal everyone shares, which is a renewable future, but
this particular issue is economic justice and parity with the rest of the
Craig N. Mathies Sr. (D), president of the Somerset
County Board of Commissioners, echoed the sentiment.
that it’s going to be a significant savings to the University of Maryland
Eastern Shore and also to [Eastern Correctional Institute] in their fuel
costs — it’s going to reduce it dramatically. And then there’s such an
opportunity for… the potential of economic growth.”
the University of Maryland Eastern Shore uses fuel-oil and propane, while
the Eastern Correctional Institute burns wood chips — all of which are
dirtier sources of energy than natural gas.
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