Maryland Regulators Award Permit for Natural Gas Pipeline

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland issued a permit Friday for a proposed natural gas pipeline in western Maryland that has brought protesters to the state capital.

The wetlands and waterways permit for the proposed Columbia Gas pipeline includes customized conditions specific to the project and its location to ensure protection of public health and the environment, the Maryland Department of the Environment announced. Ben Grumbles, who heads the department, said the state has added almost two dozen environmental conditions, many of which “go above and beyond” what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would typically include.

“The bottom line is that this pipeline will not get built if the applicant doesn’t comply with our many requirements, regardless of what the federal agencies ultimately decide,” Grumbles said in a statement.

The project would involve construction of about 3 miles of new 8-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in Maryland as part of a 3.4-mile pipeline that would connect a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to Mountaineer Gas line in West Virginia. It would run through Maryland under the Potomac River.

The department says impacts to non-tidal wetlands, wetland buffer, stream and floodplain areas are estimated to be about three-fifths of an acre.

Opponents have criticized the proposal, saying it could affect drinking water for millions. They have called on Gov. Larry Hogan to reject the proposal. On Wednesday, five protesters were arrested after blocking the front of the statehouse. They were briefly detained and released without formal charges, according to Maryland Department of General Services spokesman Nick Cavey.

Last month, protesters held lit letters at an evening rally by the governor’s residence, calling on him rejected the pipeline.

The department is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to include Maryland’s special conditions in any authorizations they might issue for the project.

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