The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld a decision rendered last year in Calvert County Circuit Court that stated the Maryland Sierra Club could not stop Dominion Cove Point from establishing an export facility. The court’s opinion was issued Friday, Feb. 28.

The lower court had ruled that a 2005 conservation easement agreement between Dominion and the Sierra Club regarding the offshore terminal at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Lusby was “unambiguous” and permitted the company to expand its operations to include natural gas imports. The Sierra Club had argued that export was not included in a list of authorized activities under the agreement.

The Sierra Club appealed the circuit court decision back in January before the Court of Special Appeals.

The opinion issued by the court was written by Judge Michelle D. Hotten.

“We do not wish to underestimate the potential environmental impacts this project may have on the Cove Point site and the Chesapeake Bay,” Hotten stated. “However, Sierra Club had an opportunity when it drafted the agreement to express concerns regarding environmental impacts. Sierra Club negotiated these restrictions, easements and covenants in an effort to permit industrial development that was effective and sustainable. The activities Dominion wants to perform now are permitted by the 2005 agreement. Whether there are undue environmental impacts is an issue that will be the subject of review by governmental agencies having jurisdiction over that issue.”

“Dominion still needs to get approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Maryland Public Service Commission, among others, before it can begin construction” stated Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle.

Construction of the proposed liquefaction facility at the Lusby plant will cost an estimated $3.8 billion.

A call to the Sierra Club’s Maryland director had not been returned as this story was being filed.

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