Sunday 24 February 2019

Fossil Fuels (79)

New law requires excavation of all sites in Chesapeake Bay watershed Today, Virginia legislators passed a law in a bipartisan effort to safely dispose of toxic coal ash stored on the banks of rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The legislation will require the complete excavation of the more than 28 million tons of coal ash Dominion currently stores at Chesterfield Power Station, Chesapeake Energy Center, Possum Point Power Station, and Bremo Power Station. “We applaud the efforts of the Potomac and James Riverkeepers who have worked for years in local communities and the courts, with other advocates, legislators and citizens, to find a common sense solution to a legacy of toxic coal ash stored on the banks of our rivers,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “It is critically important to have strong laws on the state level during this time when federal agencies are attempting to eliminate rules protecting our waterways from toxic coal ash and to rollback other Clean Water Act protections.” The new law will require Dominion to do the following: Excavate all of the coal ash at these four facilities, and either recycle the ash into products like cement and concrete, or place it in modern, lined landfills. At least a quarter of the coal ash must be recycled, and the construction of any new landfills will be subject to local zoning and permitting requirements; Develop a transportation plan with the affected localities where any coal ash needs to be moved offsite; and Prioritize the hiring…
Sen. Zirkin, Del. Fraser-Hidalgo Sponsor Pipeline and Water Protection Act Last week, the Maryland Pipeline and Water Protection Act (PAWPA) was introduced, the latest move to protect Maryland’s waters from dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipelines. PAWPA would require the state of Maryland to conduct a full Water Quality Certification review of any proposed fracked gas pipelines, as it is authorized to do under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Previously, state authorities abdicated this responsibility when the Potomac Pipeline was proposed. This bill follows the Board of Public Works’ recent decision denying the Potomac Pipeline’s construction easement under the Potomac River. Senator Bobby Zirkin and Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, who sponsored the state's 2017 fracking ban, are primary sponsors of PAWPA, SB 387 and HB 669. Surface and ground waters can suffer long-term harms during the construction of fracked gas pipelines. A drilling blowout can release toxic drilling chemicals into the soil and adjacent waters and construction can alter routes and rates of water flow. Once in operation, gas pipelines continue to pose contamination dangers. Gas leaked from a pipeline includes toxic chemicals and a pipeline failure will release explosive methane. This legislation would require the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to use its section 401 authority to conduct full, independent reviews of new, proposed interstate gas pipelines to assess their impact on the state’s water resources. Waterkeepers Chesapeake supports both bills with an amendment to have the public notice, comment and hearing provisions apply to all projects that fall…
Vote Could Stop Controversial Fracked Gas Pipeline Under the Potomac River In a surprising move, Governor Hogan joined other Maryland Board of Public Works members in voting to reject a permit necessary for a fracked gas pipeline known as the “Potomac Pipeline.” During the Maryland Board of Public Works’ meeting on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019, Hogan and the other members of the board unanimously rejected a right-of-way easement under the Western Maryland Rail/Trail. The proposed Potomac Pipeline would tunnel under the Potomac River to transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia. “For two years, we have joined our partners in the No Potomac Pipeline coalition in calling on Maryland to protect its residents from the harms of fracking, including ejecting a permit for this dangerous fracked gas pipeline proposed by TransCanada,” said Katlyn Schmitt, Staff Attorney for Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “With several new pipelines currently under consideration, including on the Eastern Shore, it is time for Maryland to improve its process for evaluating the environmental risks of fracked gas infrastructure.” The decision comes on the heels of a letter signed by 63 Maryland legislators calling on Governor Hogan to reject the easement. “Given that Maryland has banned fracking, it defies our state’s existing energy policy to bring the same public health risks to our residents by way of a pipeline,” the legislators stated. Without the right-of-away easement, the pipeline will not be constructed over the route originally proposed. According to Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls (pictured right), TransCanada can take legal action against Maryland over the…