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Groups urge Maryland governor to fight Dominion LNG export plan


Less than a week after the US Department of Energy approved Dominion Cove Point LNG's proposal to ship liquefied natural gas from its proposed Maryland facility, the state's governor is facing growing pressure to fight the project.

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In a letter Tuesday, a coalition of more than 120 Maryland business owners, state and national environmental organizations, urged Governor Martin O'Malley, a second term Democrat, to oppose the project they claim will pollute the Chesapeake Bay, increase fracking and energy costs, and worsen climate pollution.

"Given the negative and far-reaching impacts of moving forward with the Cove Point LNG export terminal project, we urge you to declare your public opposition to the project and do everything in your power as Governor to stop it," the coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and Greenpeace USA, wrote. "The project simply is not in the best interest of Maryland and the nation."

In a statement, Dan Donovan, a Dominion spokesman, said the Richmond, Virginia-based company "is working to build the most environmentally compatible facility of its kind."

"Much of the infrastructure is already in place and every question being raised today has been addressed in the comprehensive documentation provided by the company," Donovan said. "The people of Maryland stand to receive significant benefits from this project -- including thousands of jobs and many millions in new government revenues -- while the nation can help meet the energy needs of two important allies."

Dominion has signed 20-year terminal service agreements with Pacific Energy Summit, a US affiliate of Japan's Sumitomo, and GAIL Global (USA) LNG, the US unit of GAIL (India), according to regulatory filings.

On September 11, DOE approved Dominion Cove Point's proposal to export LNG to countries that do not have free trade agreement with the US. That approval is conditional, however, and is still subject to a lengthy environmental review and regulatory approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The coalition on Tuesday said that O'Malley should demand the Obama administration prepare a full environmental impact statement on the potential impacts of building the Cove Point project on the Chesapeake Bay, instead of a less detailed environmental assessment.

Abigail Hopper, O'Malley's energy adviser, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

In a statement, Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, called the Cove Point LNG project "a global warming worst-case scenario for Maryland."

Josh Tulkin, director of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter, questioned spending billions in new infrastructure "to help an out-of-state corporation ship gas to Asia."

"This is clearly not in Maryland's interests," Tulkin said.

In its letter, the coalition argued that the export facility will "hasten the pace of destructive fracking and drilling," put a "strain on existing gas transport infrastructure," and "weaken our country's energy independence."

The project "would trigger a new wave of greenhouse gas emissions greater than any other single source of climate pollution in the state," the coalition wrote. "Astonishingly, its life-cycle greenhouse gas pollution would be equal to or greater than all of Maryland's seven coal-fired power plants combined."

--Brian Scheid,

--Edited by Derek Sands,