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Groups Fight Proposed Gas Pipeline on MD's Eastern Shore

Environmental groups oppose a proposed fracked-gas pipeline expected to run through rivers and farmland on Maryland's Eastern Shore. (Adobe Stock)
Environmental groups oppose a proposed fracked-gas pipeline expected to run through rivers and farmland on Maryland's Eastern Shore. (Adobe Stock)
July 10, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Environmental groups and local residents are speaking out against a proposed fracked-gas pipeline to run through rivers, farms and forests from Delaware to Maryland's Eastern Shore.

The Hogan administration held a public hearing about Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company's plan to build more than 20 miles of pipeline to bring fracked gas to the historically black University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus and the rest of Somerset County.

Anthony Field, Maryland campaign coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, says with the recent setbacks for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Dakota Access pipeline, the project is out of step with the public's desire to move away from fossil fuels.

"The era of fossil fuels is over," says Field. "We simply cannot be building new infrastructure for toxic methane gas. Eastern Shore officials should promote the speedy development of clean energy sources like offshore wind instead."

Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company officials say the pipeline is needed in the area to meet growing market demand. They point out it also would bring gas service to Somerset County, one of only three counties in Maryland without access to natural gas.

But Field says the public must weigh any support for a fossil-fuel energy source with the pipeline's potential threat to the area's ecosystems, particularly water supplies. And he notes that once the pipeline is up and running, its emissions would boost greenhouse gases - ultimately affecting air quality in a low-income area already challenged by climate change.

"This is extremely concerning," says Field. "Especially UMES, for example, is an HBCU, and largely disenfranchised folks - people of color, lower-income individuals - are mostly the ones affected by the changing climate, and the issues that these kind of infrastructure bring to the state and the country."

He says his group and others will continue protesting the pipeline. In the meantime, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan plans to spend more than $100 million to increase fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure in the state.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MD