TransCanada is seeking to build a 3-mile pipeline under the Potomac River to supply needed gas to West Virginia, but are facing the usual opposition.
Last April, Maryland was the first state with natural gas reserves to pass a law that outright bans fracking. Governor Hogan, a once ally of natural gas development, made a complete 180-degree and signed the law into place based on political pressure claiming, “environmental risks of fracking outweigh any benefits”.
With fracking now banned, the same groups who fought tooth and nail to get the ban passed are now looking to prevent any infrastructure that supports gas. Currently, they are going full-court press to stop a whopping 3.5 mile pipeline. Groups such as the Potomac Riverkeepers are protesting a TransCanada pipeline that will cross the under Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal). These groups are seeking to capitalize on Governor Hogan’s temporary short sightedness and prevent the project from crossing through the narrowest part of Maryland and deliver much-needed natural gas to West Virginia.
West Virginia has been hit hard by the slumping coal industry and eagerly approved the plans for the new pipeline. On top of being able to provide heat and energy to their citizens, WV is also looking for economic improvements since the state’s coal production has dramatically fallen. This pipeline project is a stepping-stone to help them move forward with a much larger project, The Appalachian Storage Hub.
The Appalachian Storage Hub is a $10 billion dollar project aimed at creating a storage hub for natural gas reserves and liquid byproducts. Similar hubs such as the Mont Belvieu are based in Texas and West Virginia is betting on a smaller hub closer to the Marcellus region on the east coast. The American Chemical Council released a report that stated:
“The economic benefits could be substantial. By 2025, the quad-state region could see 100,000 permanent new jobs, including 25,700 new chemical and plastic products manufacturing jobs, 43,000 jobs in supplier industries and 32,000 ‘payroll-induced’ jobs in communities where workers spend their wages, according the report. The new investment could also lead to $2.9 billion in new federal, state and local tax revenue annually.”
This can be a significant game changer for West Virginians and is recognized as a bipartisan project that will help revitalize the state while supporting manufacturing for many other states east of the Mississippi. However, the one thing the project lacks is this little pipeline; a pipeline opposed by special interest groups opposed to all natural gas development, of course.
A recent Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun written by two of our State’s politicians sums up the motive of preventing any and all natural gas infrastructure in the state. Democratic Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins of Maryland’s District 20 and Democratic Senator Ronald Young, who I criticized for supporting the fracking ban, co-wrote the opinion piece. It is titled, “Md.’s governor rejected fracking, now he should reject fracking infrastructure.” It couldn’t be much clearer, could it? It’s all about the ideology, the hyperbole and the political correctness. Balance, common sense and reason are thrown to the wind as Western Maryland’s fate twists in it.
The scare piece calls on Gov. Hogan to reject TransCanada’s permit and asks everyone to follow the Lancaster nuns and other to prevent the companies from succeeding.
Placing a pipeline under a river is hardly a modern marvel in engineering. It is tried, tested, and proven to be safe – even though opponents of this, and other pipelines such as the Dakota Access and Keystone, pretend it is an experimental science. The risks of environmental impacts are very low, but this does not prevent ideologues from showing up in their plastic canoes and protesting an 8-inch pipe from going a little over 3 miles. There are already a dozen others in the area crossing the same river but this one is the problem? No, it’s just another example of a few on the fringe creating noise while ignoring reality.