On Wednesday, Nov. 6, as part of their two-week long Maryland Crossroads Tour, representatives from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network hosted a townhall-style meeting in St. Mary’s Hall with students and members of the community. Held in partnership with the College’s Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC), the meeting was designed to raise awareness regarding the efforts of Dominion Energy to create an export processing plant for liquefied natural gas on the peninsula of Cove Point in Calvert County. The event opened by recognizing local leaders in the climate fight, including SEAC’s Ruth Tyson (a junior) and Nicole Zimmerman (a senior), before moving on to a presentation on the harmful effects of the proposed Cove Point LNG plant.
The operations of Dominion Energy in Maryland have already been quite controversial in the past, with one of their attempts to build a natural gas compressor station in the Frederick County town of Myersville being heavily protested as an eyesore and much too close to a local elementary school. This latest business model is far more wide-sweeping, and if enacted, would allow Maryland to become a regional leader in energy export, selling chilled and liquefied natural gas to India via container ship. This gas, extracted in Appalachia, would of course have to be passed through Maryland along pipelines and processed in a coastal region for transport.
While the tax dollars, investment, and jobs that Dominion Energy promises to bring to Maryland are appealing to some (notably construction unions and various lawmakers), the Chesapeake Climate Action Network cautioned in their townhall meeting that we should not overlook the negative consequences. Such a plant would cause a vast upswing in fossil fuel emissions, spur additional fracking, and not help the United States gain energy independence. They argued that the cost of this new energy infrastructure would be better spent promoting clean, proven alternatives, such as wind power plants off the coast of Ocean City.
At the end of the meeting, paper and envelopes were passed out to the attendees, who were encouraged to write to Governor Martin O’Malley in protest of the Cove Point LNG plant. Students and community members alike were encouraged to take action in whatever way they could, with the representatives from the Climate Action Network explaining that there were many potential ways for people to get involved, given the number of approval steps any such business program would have to go through at the state and local levels.