I am writing a letter to Maryland Governor Martin O’Mally today because I am deeply saddened that the governor has shifted his focus away from the citizens of his state to the citizens of Iowa. He’s thinking about running for president in 2016 and, as such, isn’t giving the necessary focus required to protect the lives of people he is responsible for – the families of Lusby, Maryland, where Dominion Resources of Virginia is set to build a liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility.
The Society of International Gas Tankers and Terminal Operators, of which Dominion Resources is a member, states that no civilians should exist within at least 2.2 miles of an LNG export facility. Yet 2,365 Lusby homes do, along with two school, 19 daycare centers, two shopping centers, and Cove Point State Park. It makes no sense to build it, given the explosive nature of natural gas and the industrial pollution that comes with operating the facility. Apparently, Dominion feels it doesn’t have to play by the rules.
When there was interest in building an LNG facility at Sparrows Point in Baltimore in 2007, Governor O’Malley was against it. He said, “Foremost among our concerns is safety of our citizens and the families who live in the community as well as those employed by area businesses.” He also said, “We cannot dismiss the negative impacts this project will have on the Chesapeake Bay, as a treasured natural and recreational resource and significant economic engine.” And he called it “a threat to our homeland security.” He was bold about halting the project, along with creating a renewable energy legacy essential to the protection of our water and air, our children and our future.
Now O’Malley is testing a run for the presidency. And suddenly he’s changing his tune, because being pro-natural gas is the position taken by the vast majority of Congress, the President and his administration; because the fossil fuel industry is known for their campaign contributions. The governor is turning a deaf ear to the serious risks an LNG export facility poses for residents of Lusby, MD. He is turning a deaf ear to citizens throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and more who will be seriously affected by fracking and the infrastructure inherent in massive, industrial exporting of natural gas.
I am also deeply saddened that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the decision-maker on whether the Dominion Cove Point LNG export facility is safe enough to be built, is rubber-stamping the project. They are being dangerously irresponsible, despite the thousands and thousands of us who are saying it is critical to conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Statement and a Quantitative Risk Assessment before making a decision. We are being ignored. Citizens, health professionals, environmental organizations, fireman, faith leaders – we are being accused of exaggerating our claims regarding public health and safety, when the facts and science show that there are very real reasons to reject Dominion’s proposal.
Public health and safety should always take priority over jobs and tax revenue, regardless of how many millions a county is going to get out of the deal. It’s not as if the jobs can’t be replaced with clean energy jobs. Of course they can, if the fossil fuel industry weren’t so hell bent on using every bit of fossil fuel they can dig out of the earth for profit, regardless of whether it sends climate change spinning out of control, regardless of who and what it poisons. Green energy jobs are our future! And O’Malley once stood proudly for that.
O’ Malley has said, “Government’s most sacred responsibility is keeping people safe.” What happened Governor? What changed your mind? All of us advocating that an EIS be conducted are on the side of public health and safety, of protecting our precious natural resources. You thought the same for Sparrows Point. Please don’t get lost in the idea that you have to change your fundamental beliefs to run for president. Don’t get caught in that trap. You have been building a legacy for a clean energy future and that is what this country needs above all else, given what science is clearly showing.
We need an EIS, which, if conducted accurately, will undoubtedly show that an LNG export facility in Lusby, Maryland is NOT in the best public interest. Please do the right thing, Governor O’Malley. Put the safety and health of citizens above all else – a “sacred responsibility” all elected officials should carry out, be they governor or President.