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Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Maryland Over Power Plant in Brandywine

A civil rights lawsuit has been filed over a power plant given approval in a predominately black area of Prince George County. (Earthjustice)
A civil rights lawsuit has been filed over a power plant given approval in a predominately black area of Prince George County. (Earthjustice)
May 12, 2016

Brandywine, MD - The state of Maryland is facing a federal civil rights complaint over approval of a gas-fired power plant in Brandywine. Earthjustice said the state is required under Title VI to consider whether there would be an "unjustified and unequal" impact on the basis of race.

Neal Gormley, senior associate attorney with Earthjustice, said that law was violated.

"The Maryland agencies that decided that this plant should be built are putting a bunch of pollution sources into a community that's 75 percent black, while whiter communities get cleaner air," he said.

The power plant would be built by Mattawoman Energy, which bills it as a clean natural-gas plant that would power hundreds of thousands of homes. The complaint was filed with the offices of civil rights at the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Gormley said residents weren't adequately informed about plans to build the 990-megawatt plant.

"There are multiple power plants, all being planned to be built simultaneously in this community, for a total of five large fossil-fuel-fired power plants in the area of this one town," he added. "So people in the local community were confused, to be honest, as anyone would be, and couldn't really keep track of all these different projects."

The complaint was filed on behalf of Brandywine TB Coalition and Patuxent RiverKeeper.

Gormley said they're worried about pollution, traffic, depressed property values and health.

"Prince George's County already has unhealthy air," he added. "It violates national standards for ozone pollution, ground-level ozone, which is well understood to contribute to asthma, other respiratory problems and even premature death."

One in six black children has asthma, the highest of any racial group in the United States. The Maryland Department of Health said African-Americans in the state are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die from asthma.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD