The Impacts of Pipelines

Pipelines reflecting sunset. Photo credit Amy Johansson / Shutterstock

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) issued a permit to Columbia Gas without providing the necessary information to the public, and did not comply with Clean Water Act or State Law when issuing the permit.

MDE issued the permit too quickly, without taking into consideration the health of communities, people, and the environment.

The permit issued would impact the waterways in Baltimore City and County that contribute to the drinking water of 1.8 million people.

MDE, Baltimore & the Columbia Gas Pipeline

In April 2014, MDE issued a permit to Columbia Gas for a 305 acre project that would install a 21 mile, 2 feet in diameter natural gas pipeline that would travel through Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

The construction of the pipeline would cross 81 waterways, including nontidal wetlands, the 25-foot wetland buffer, and the 100-year floodplain. These wetlands and waterways are critical to providing clean drinking water to 1.8 million people in the area.

When issuing the permit, MDE failed to conduct a more extensive public information process, failed to provide additional documentation that the project would not affect historic properties, and was unclear on its rationale on water quality issues.

In May 2015, the Circuit Court for Baltimore County ordered construction to stop until MDE correctly addressed a number of issues.

Instead of complying with court mandates, MDE joined Columbia Gas in appealing the decision.

What must be done

Communities, people, and you can tell MDE that before it reissues the permit or continue construction, it must:

  • Stop their appeal of the judge’s order
  • Extend the public comment period so that everyone’s voices are heard
  • Strengthen the permit conditions, including repairing any damages or losses to buffers along sensitive streams and waterways
  • Order comprehensive third party monitoring of the 81 waterways and 305.7 acres impacted before, during, and after construction to ensure the safety of the drinking water, the public, and the environment

We cannot allow this pipeline to degrade water quality of the watershed or impact downstream drinking water sources. Tell MDE these sensitive, cold-water waterways contribute to the drinking water of 1.8 million people and must be protected.

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