WASHINGTON, DC — Environmental groups will request a rehearing for a key permit that was recently issued for a highly controversial fracked-gas pipeline known as the “Potomac Pipeline.” This pipeline is set to be built underneath the Potomac River, threatening the drinking water of millions of residents who rely on the Potomac as a drinking water source.

The permit, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), was called into question by two FERC commissioners who raised concerns about the agency’s examination of the pipeline’s impacts on climate change. Commissioner LaFleur also voiced concerns  about the impacts from a closely related pipeline under construction in West Virginia.  These are among the issues the groups raise in their rehearing request.

From the very beginning, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan put his thumb on the scale in favor of building this pipeline. He coordinated with the Canadian-based company behind the project, TransCanada (which owns Columbia Gas), to exempt the risky drilling process for this pipeline from state oversight. Hogan’s Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) then failed to carry out a thorough water certification process under the Clean Water Act, under which the department would have had the authority to reject the pipeline.

The Potomac Pipeline would run through sensitive karst geology underneath the Potomac River, making it more likely that a leak or explosion could happen during and after construction. It would also deepen our dependence on fossil fuels and lead to an expansion of fracking in Pennsylvania. Fracking wells leak the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the air, making it as bad or worse for global warming than coal.

Anne Havemann, General Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, issued the following statement:

“Governor Hogan has been working relentlessly to expand fracked-gas infrastructure throughout the state of Maryland. Now, the Trump Administration has given Hogan what he wanted: A greenlight to build a fracked-gas pipeline underneath the invaluable Potomac River, endangering the water supply of millions of residents and locking us into a new source of fossil fuels for decades.

“Hogan has shirked his responsibility to protect the people of Maryland or listen to their concerns. And now the federal commissioners at FERC have failed the people of America by refusing to examine the climate impacts of the Potomac Pipeline. Even two FERC commissioners know this pipeline could be a disaster for the climate.

“We are committed to taking any and all opportunities to protect our communities from the dangers of this pipeline and all other future pipelines to come.”

Katlyn Schmitt, Staff Attorney at Waterkeepers Chesapeake, stated:

“We are incredibly disappointed by FERC’s failure to adequately consider the cumulative water quality impacts from drilling a fracked gas pipeline under the Potomac River. Ultimately this decision could endanger the area’s largest drinking water supply and local ecosystems that are critical to the Chesapeake Bay.”

More information about the Potomac Pipeline and Governor Hogan’s plan to expand fracked-gas infrastructure in Maryland is available here.