By Dharna Noor
Governor Larry Hogan voted to reject a permit for the Potomac Pipeline on Wednesday, stunning environmental activists. The move could halt the construction of the pipeline, which would ship fracked gas through Western Maryland under the Potomac River.
Hogan joined the other members of the Board of Public Works, Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, in a unanimous vote to deny a “right-of-way” easement to Columbia Gas, a subsidiary of the energy giant TransCanada. Known for their Keystone XL Pipeline, TransCanada proposed the pipeline to carry fracked gas through Maryland on its way from Pennsylvania through West Virginia.
The decision came one day after over 60 Democratic legislators from Maryland sent Hogan a letter to call for him to reject the easement. But at the board meeting, Hogan said his decision “had nothing to do with any letter from the legislature.”
Columbia Gas and TransCanada remain committed to the pipeline’s construction. “We will consider our options over the coming days to keep this project on track,” a TransCanada official told the Baltimore Sun.
Environmentalists and climate advocates applaud the decision and hope it will bring forth a major shift in state energy policy. “For two years, Maryland has been calling on Governor Hogan to keep his promise and protect Marylanders from the harms of fracking,” said Brooke Harper, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Hogan passed a fracking ban in 2017, but environmentalists say that backing the Potomac Pipeline went against the spirit of that policy. For years, they have urged him to also halt the construction of fracked gas infrastructure.
“Today, he took a step in the right direction,” said Harper.
For more on the Potomac Pipeline, watch our previous coverage: