38,000 petitions submitted against the project while backers say more than 20,000 submitted in support
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: I’m here at Baltimore City Hall. Anti-fracking activists have just gathered on the last day of public comments for the Cove Point natural gas fracking facility, an issue The Real News has covered before. Behind me you see a stack of about 38,000 public comments that these activists are about to deliver to the Public Service Commission that will ultimately decide whether this project will go ahead or not.
We reached out to the company behind the plan, Dominion Resources. They say the plan will be safe, bring badly needed money and jobs into the community, and is the cleanest way to extract natural gas from the environment.
PAM FAGGERT, CHIEF ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICER, DOMINION ENERGY: There has really been an extensive amount of work to ensure that this facility will be protective of the environment after it’s built. The facility itself is designed to minimize the emissions and the environmental impact.
In addition, we’ll be using processed gas. Processed gas is gas that’s left over from the process of liquifying the natural gas. And what we will do is use this gas in lieu of natural gas as a fuel when we can to minimize having to use new natural gas. And that reduces the emissions at our facility compared to those emissions at other LNG terminals.
NOOR: Here is some of what these activists had to say.
JORGE AGUILAR, SOUTHERN REGION DIRECTOR, FOOD & WATER WATCH: I’m here today to stand together with the dozens of local, state, national environmental and social justice organizations who fear the negative impacts that a new LNG facility will have on our communities. I am here today to issue a serious warning of the environmental and economic damage that Cove Point will cause to our families today and our children in the future.
Now, let me be clear. This Cove Point export facility will be the epicenter of a disaster with terrible ramifications for our families here in the state of Maryland and the entire country.
BETSY NICHOLAS, EXEC. DIR., WATERKEEPERS CHESAPEAKE: This is not about jobs, the economy, or creating a safe energy source. It’s about selling our natural resources as fast as possible to the highest bidder until they’re completely gone. Surely, reasonable people can agree that it’s not in the public interest to benefit one fantastically wealthy industry while threatening the livelihoods of millions of working Americans, hundreds of industries, and the health of the environment in which we all live and work.
Now it’s time for the Maryland Public Service Commission to make a ruling to protect the public interest and say no to Cove Point.
SUE ALLISON, CALVERT CITIZENS FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY: –concerned about my neighbors. I live about 2,200 feet from the closest LNG tank to my house. These tanks are literally across a two-lane road from residences. They’re about–within 4,500 feet of the plant, there are approximately 360 homes.
This is an extremely hazardous thing to put in a residential neighborhood. I can’t think of anything more hazardous.
So today I’m bringing a letter to the PSC. I’m telling them about my daughters, what kind of grades they get, what kind of instruments they play, how they’re practicing for a musical. They’re Texan high school graduates, just like our last speaker. I want them to know who lives there, I want them to know how much I love my neighbors and my neighborhood, because this is a life-or-death decision. I need them to have the burden of what I know.
CHIQUITA YOUNGER, INTERFAITH POWER & LIGHT: And I’m here to speak out for not only my niece and my mother and my family, but everyone throughout the state of Maryland that will be affected by this major climate polluter and that haven’t gotten their questions answered about the pollution that this will cause in the area and throughout Maryland. We’re all called to be stewards of the earth, and we cannot allow Dominion to place economic interests before our lives and our health.
GINA ANGIOLA, CHESAPEAKE PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: And I’m here on behalf of the Chesapeake Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. That is an organization of health care providers who are committed to trying to prevent disasters for which there really can be no adequate medical response.
Climate change is without question the biggest public health threat we face. It is already affecting communities here in Maryland and around the globe. It is accelerating. And it could have catastrophic consequences within our lifetimes. We are not talking about the year 2100. We are not talking about centuries from now. We are talking about within the next few decades, within our lifetimes.
If we continue on the business-as-usual path with our dependence on fossil fuels, our addiction to fossil fuels, given that climate scientists are telling us loudly and clearly that we must leave 80 percent or more of existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we hope to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change, it is absurd, it is absolutely absurd to be building massive new fossil fuel infrastructure at this time.
NOOR: We’ll see what the next phase of opposition looks like after the Public Service Commission decides whether to approve this project or not.
Reporting from Baltimore for The Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.