Voices From The Readers – November 20, 2020

Voices From The Readers – November 20, 2020

Natural Gas Pipeline Opposed

(The following letter was addressed to the Maryland Board of Public Works with a copy distributed for publication.)

The following organizations and elected officials based on the Eastern Shore of Maryland are contacting you today over the proposed natural gas pipeline on the Eastern Shore. Due to the impact this project would have on the economy, environment, and health of our region, we are appealing to you to vote NO on the Eastern Shore natural gas pipeline project for the following reasons:

  1. The construction of this pipeline would only make our impoverished area even more reliant on outdated and harmful energy sources while green energy projects and the long term jobs they create go to other communities.
  2. If built the Del-Mar pipeline will impact 1,239 square feet of streams and more than 16,000 square feet of wetlands. This impact would very likely lead to the destruction of our pristine environment.
  3. In general, fracked gas pipelines are unsafe and unreliable. From June 2015 to June 2017 alone, there were 11 explosions of natural gas pipelines or other infrastructure. Since 2010, more than 500 people have been injured, 121 people have been killed, and $3.5 billion of damage has occurred as a result of pipeline accidents. Bringing such a risk to the Lower Shore with no real benefits offered would be cruel and put our communities at unnecessary risk.
  4. Water quality on the Eastern Shore is exceptionally vulnerable to the damage that will be caused by fossil fuel extraction and transport needed for this project. Potential damages include coal ash contamination of ponds and rivers, drinking water impacts from fracking for gas in nearby states, and oil spills in our rivers from the pipeline.
  5. The fracked-gas industry is a high-risk/low reward gamble. This is shown by past efforts like when the companies behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline canceled the project due to skyrocketing costs and legal uncertainties.
  6. Enabling more fossil fuel production is in direct contradiction to our state’s goals of increasing renewable energy production and moving towards carbon neutrality. We are concerned, for example, that the request for proposals put out by the State of Maryland to repower the university and prison foreclosed the possibility of a clean energy solution by only requesting applications for gas.
  7. Our communities here on the Eastern Shore are ground zero for sea-level rise due to the effects of climate change. We are at major risk due to the fact that our communities reside on long shorelines and in low-lying areas. The risk is heightened when taking into consideration the fact that much of Maryland’s 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline are found on the Eastern Shore, which, according to the latest science, will experience near-daily flooding by 2100.
  8. This project — if constructed — would run through primarily majority-minority and low-income communities. The topline finding is that there is a predominance of Environmental Justice (EJ)-eligible census block groups up and down the two proposed projects. In fact, there are only 4 of 40 one-mile study area tracts that are not EJ-eligible.

Based on these eight points, we urge you to vote no on this pipeline. You can stop this dangerous plan that hurts the shore. We, and so many others around the state, are counting on you.

Jared Schablein, Chair, Lower Shore Progressive Caucus; Michele Gregory, Salisbury Councilperson District 4; Cecilia Plante , Chair, Maryland Legislative Coalition; Elise Rose Bean. Chair, FLIP; Amber Green, Member, Salisbury Human Rights Advisory Committee, Bob Muehlenkamp, President, Our Revolution Maryland; Ivory Smith, President, Worcester NAACP; Kirkland Hall, community leader/educator; Larry Stafford, Executive Director, Progressive Maryland; and Dale Parker, Executive Director, Concerned Residents of Princess Anne.