We’ve banned fracking in Maryland, but the fight to keep dangerous natural gas infrastructure out of our state is far from over. TransCanada, the same corporation behind the Keystone Pipeline, has proposed the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project, a pipeline which would run through Western Maryland. It would connect a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to a Mountaineer Gas line in West Virginia, and would travel through Maryland just west of Hancock.
While this pipeline would only span about three miles, it would endanger millions by crossing under two key bodies of water: the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. More than 6 million people downstream of the Potomac, including many Marylanders and all D.C. residents, rely on it as their primary source of drinking water. If the construction of this pipeline were to move forward, the drinking water of millions of people would be jeopardized.
Activists have been resisting the construction of this pipeline at many junctures, and have been successful in delaying it. When TransCanada held a forum about the pipeline, more than 50 Marylanders showed up and opposed its construction. Activists have also led many letter writing campaigns targeting both the National Park Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Luckily, the pipeline can’t be constructed until Governor Hogan’s Department of the Environment signs off on the project under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, certifying that it will not negatively impact water quality in the state. This is where we come in.
In New York, Governor Cuomo denied certification to the Northern Access Pipeline using this section of the Clean Water Act. This dangerous pipeline would have carried fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Canada, through Western NY. Governor Cuomo's decision to deny the pipeline on the basis that it would impact the water quality in New York sets a strong example for Maryland and other states across the county. We know that fracked gas pipelines are inherently dangerous, and state governments can, and should, stand up to the encroachment of fracked gas infrastructure using this provision of the Clean Water Act.
Marylanders know there's no future in fracked gas and Governor Hogan knows it too, thanks to us. When elected in 2015, Governor Hogan supported fracking. The movement to ban this dangerous practice only swelled after his election, and his ultimate support for a ban is the result of years of educating and organizing. Together we've built a powerful movement calling for a beautiful, frack-free Maryland; a movement that Governor Hogan couldn’t ignore.
Fracked gas pipelines have no place in the future of our state. With fossil fuel promotion and climate change denial rampant at the federal level, it's time to double down and work locally to resist any and all fossil fuel expansion. Together, we can use the momentum from our victory in banning fracking to ensure that Governor Hogan sees that the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project has no place in our frack-free Maryland.