Maryland Board Rejects TransCanada Project Easement

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland's Board of Public Works voted against a proposed pipeline easement across the western part of the state that would enable TransCanada to transport natural gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

Source: Energy Web Atlas/P&GJ

The 3-0 vote Wednesday followed a letter from 60 state lawmakers urging that the easement be rejected by the board, which includes Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D).

The proposed easement would run under the Potomac River near Hancock, Maryland, and extend 3 miles (4.83 kilometers) from Columbia Gas' network in Pennsylvania to Mountaineer Gas' distribution system in West Virginia.

TransCanada spokesman Scott Castleman told the Baltimore Sun that the company would explore its options in light of the board’s decision.

“Today’s vote denying our easement request is unfortunate,” Castleman said. “That being said, it does not change the need for, or the company’s commitment to, our Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project. It remains critical for West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle and the surrounding region, and will provide much-needed additional natural gas supplies for continued business and economic development.”

Franchot cited testimony from environmentalists and residents who have been vocal in opposing the pipeline, but Hogan said the letter from lawmakers had no impact on the board's unanimous vote.

That letter noted that Hogan signed Maryland's ban on hydraulic fracturing into law in 2017, marking the first time the legislature of a state with natural gas reserves voted to bar the practice.  The letter said the pipeline would affect at least 10 wetlands and 19 streams, in addition to the Potomac River.

"Moreover, enabling fossil fuel production runs counter to our state's goals of increasing renewable energy production," the lawmakers wrote.

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources had urged approval of the easement for the pipeline through a small portion of Washington County owned by state government.

Anne Havemann, an attorney for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said she hopes the board's vote marks an end to the proposal.

"We'll see if (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) gets involved or the courts get involved, but for now it's a welcome delay and we hope a permanent end to this pipeline," Havemann said shortly after the vote.

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