TransCanada, owner of the Columbia Pipeline in Pennsylvania, has filed an application to expand their natural gas pipeline to connect to the Mountaineer Gas system in West Virginia. This 3.5 mile expansion would go from Bedford, PA and then travel through Washington County, MD, then under the Potomac River and ending in Berkeley Springs, WV.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is reviewing the application and evaluting the environmental impact before rendering an approval or denail to the proposal.
Chesapeake Climate Action Network has created an easy to use online form for submitting public comment on this issue to FERC. The letter can be customized, but auto-populates as follows:
I respectfully submit the following comments to urge FERC to produce a full Environmental Impact Statement on the Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project. The project threatens the drinking water of millions of people and would further exacerbate the environmental and climate harms from fracking.
The Eastern Panhandle Expansion would cross the Potomac River, the sole source of drinking water for Washington, DC and parts of northern Virginia and Maryland. A discharge during construction or operation would put the drinking water of millions of people at risk.
Moreover, the pipeline would cross sensitive karst geology. Karst is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves and is easily susceptible to transmission of pollutants through connected underground aquifers. The pipeline could degrade pristine streams and further threaten public and private water supplies.
Using hydraulic directional drilling under streams in karst geology will create pathways for water to drain down the bore holes and dissolve the limestone around the piping. This activity can create sinkholes that could impact the integrity of the pipeline, causing subterranean ruptures and even explosions.
In addition to the threat that the pipeline poses to drinking water and public safety, FERC must also consider the climate change impacts that this project poses. Maryland and Virginia are the second and third most vulnerable states in the nation to sea-level rise caused by climate change, and this pipeline would lock the region into more reliance on dirty fossil fuels.
Therefore, when conducting a review of the proposed pipeline under the National Environmental Policy Act, FERC must:
- Fully evaluate the threat to drinking water of jurisdictions downstream from the pipeline.
- Account for the cumulative, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of the pipeline and fully account for methane emissions into the atmosphere.
- Meaningfully consider clean alternatives to this pipeline, such as wind and solar.
- Thoroughly assess the need for another fracked-gas pipeline in the region.
- Meaningfully consider the alternative of NOT building the pipeline.
If FERC fully considers the severe threats to drinking water, public health, the climate, and safety of this pipeline proposal, I believe the results will show that this project is not in our public interest.