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Sep 13

With LNG Export Approval, DOE Shortchanges American Public, Ignores Economic and Safety Concerns

With LNG Export Approval, DOE Shortchanges American Public, Ignores Economic and Safety Concerns Cove Point project would hike energy costs, threaten public safety, harm Chesapeake Bay

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Energy announced today it had granted conditional approval to the Dominion Cove Point LNG facility to export liquefied natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries, pending an environmental review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The $3.8 billion project would transform a sleepy natural gas import facility on the Chesapeake Bay into a massive export hub and hasten the already hectic pace of fracking for natural gas in the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale regions.

But as recently as last week, FERC regulators were raising concerns with Dominion about the safety of the project pointing to the potential for a “fireball” connected to on-site chemical storage. And while economic benefits of the project are heavily in dispute, all experts agree that it would raise domestic energy prices.

Dominion still faces major hurdles before the project can proceed. The company needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has yet to complete its environmental review. Dominion also needs approval from Maryland utility regulators as well as more than 60 permits and approvals. There is still pending litigation over whether Dominion has the right to build this facility or if it breaks an earlier legal agreement with Sierra Club.

The following are statements from groups that have aligned in opposition to this project:

“Dominion managed to convince the Department of Energy that exploiting the people of the Marcellus and Utica shale regions for the sake of the oil and gas industry was a good idea. But they’ve still got a long way to go before they can convince the rest of us that we should pay higher fuel prices, sacrifice our safety, and threaten public health. Dominion should be prepared to face stiff resistance at each remaining step in their ongoing approval process,” said Jocelyn D’Ambrosio, associate attorney with the non-profit environmental law group Earthjustice.

“DOE’s decision to authorize DCP’s proposed LNG export plan, even though conditioned on yet-to-be-performed environmental reviews, smacks of poor decisionmaking. Instead of choosing to examine the propriety of LNG export programmatically, across the nation, DOE appears to be allowing each proposed export facility to take a substantial step forward without the type of reasoned analysis the public and affected communities deserve. Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper will continue to demand that DOE reconcile the negative impacts that LNG export entails for upstream communities like the Susquehanna before any final authorizations take place,” said Guy Alsentzer of Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper.

“The U.S Department of Energy does not speak for the Marylanders who would pay the price of exporting fracked gas from Cove Point. Let’s be clear: Dominion still has a steep hill to climb in receiving the necessary federal and state permits. Marylanders will be mobilizing every step of the way to challenge their plans, which threaten to virtually cover our region in new pipelines, processing plants and fracking wells,” said Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“Today’s DOE approval shows once again that the oil and gas industry does not care about domestic energy independence, which is what they sold the American public. They only care about profits even when it harms local communities, fractures our most pristine forests and risks our local rivers and drinking water supplies,” said Robin Broder of Potomac Riverkeeper.

“With the Department of Energy (DOE) today conditionally authorizing Dominion Resources to export gas from a liquefied natural gas terminal in Cove Point, Maryland, it is deeply disappointing to see that Secretary Moniz persists in leading the nation and the world to into a dirty energy future. It’s a bad deal all around: for public health, the environment, and America’s working people.  The Sierra Club has been granted party status in this docket, and will hold DOE to its commitment to fully review environmental issues before deciding whether to issue final authorization. We will also monitor all other permits and approvals that the Cove Point Facility will require, and will take action as necessary.  Additionally, Sierra Club continues to seek enforcement of a decades-old agreement between the Sierra Club and Dominion Cove Point LNG which clearly prohibits expansion of this facility to allow for exports.  The Sierra Club intends to hold Dominion accountable for complying with the commitments it made to protect the Cove Point environment,” said Deb Nardone, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign.