Tuesday 26 September 2017

From Hancock to the Bay, Maryland citizens are rising up to resist pipelines in their communities. This summer in Maryland, we’ll be camping out to protect our water and STOP TransCanada from building a fracked-gas pipeline underneath the Potomac River and C&O Canal.

On August 11th at 1:00pm join Maryland legislators, CCAN, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and concerned citizens for a press conference and kayak action against the Potomac Pipeline. We'll be gathering at Taylor's Landing on the C&O Canal Towpath, near Sharpsburg, MD.

Together, we'll say NO to TransCanada's proposed fracked-gas pipeline under the Potomac!

This summer, we are forming a resistance to stop the pipeline under the Potomac. We will do this by staging camp outs along the C & O Canal throughout the summer to draw attention to the many groups, concerned citizens, and elected officials who are opposed to endangering the drinking water of millions for a pipeline that wouldn’t even benefit Maryland citizens. We’ll be calling on Governor Hogan to deny the permit that would allow TransCanada to drill under the Potomac in Maryland.

Call Governor Hogan today and leave a voicemail asking him to reject the pipeline! 

DIAL: 1-855-969-5613

SAY: Hi my name is _____ and I am calling as a constituent [a Potomac River and national park user] to ask Governor Hogan to reject the pipeline under the Potomac. Thank you!

Governor Hogan has the authority to stop this pipeline. He can direct the Department of the Environment to deny a special water quality certification under the Clean Water Act. Please take a minute right now to send an email to Governor Larry Hogan to tell him to reject the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project!

Follow along on social media at #NoPotomacPipeline & #NoPPL

Follow No Potomac Pipeline on Facebook!

Support our work to protect your clean water!

Waterkeepers Chesapeake and our 19 independent Riverkeeper, Coastkeeper and Shorekeeper organizations advocate for legislation at the local, state and federal level.

At the beginning of each calendar year, the legislatures in Maryland and Virginia come into session to debate and pass state laws. During these legislative sessions, Waterkeepers from around the Chesapeake Bay watershed advocate for policies to advance the goals of clean water. Now that both Maryland and Virginia have adjourned for the year, we can report on our successes.

MARYLAND  
The state's General Assembly met January 11 to April 10.

  • Fracking ban (House Bill 1325)Passed and signed by Governor Larry Hogan. This legislation, sponsored by Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo bans hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a technique known as “fracking,” in the state of Maryland. Maryland previously had a moratorium that was set to expire October 2017. Seven days after the House version of the fracking ban passed on March 10, Gov. Larry Hogan announced his intention to support the statewide ban bill. Maryland is the third state to ban fracking, but the first state with gas reserves to pass a ban through the legislature. This victory was due to a statewide people-powered movement, Don't Frack Maryland. Read more.
  • Clean Water Commerce Act of 2017 (House Bill 417) Passed/awaiting Gov. Hogan’s signature. The original version of this bill would have reallocated Bay Restoration Funds (BRF) earmarked for specific wastewater improvement projects in urban areas and redirect those funds to an undefined pollution trading program. Because this had the potential to cause pollution hot spots instead of reducing pollution, Waterkeepers Chesapeake opposed the original version of this legislation. After significant amendments, the bill restored the language that BRF funds used for wastewater treatment plant upgrades would remain a high priority. It also prohibits the state from using BRF funding for agricultural nutrient trading credits. These amendments were enough to earn our endorsement.
  • Oyster Sanctuaries (House Bill 924) Passed and enacted. Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy worked to ensure that oyster restoration and recovery work in the Chesapeake Bay continues. In 2016, the Hogan administration recommended migrating some oyster harvest areas to locations defined as sanctuaries. This bill prohibits DNR from taking any action to reduce or alter the boundaries of oyster sanctuaries until the department has developed a fisheries management plan and completed an oyster stock count.
  • Our Fair Farms campaign also had several legislative victories this session. check out this video for a summary of these new policies that protect land, water and public health.

VIRGINIA 
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s legislature met for a 45-day session ending on February 25.

  • Anti-SLAPP Protections. (House Bill 1941) Passed and enacted. This law will protect Virginians from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) legal actions. These lawsuits are generally intended to stymie public input and censor critics. The law will protect whistleblowers and advocates.
  • Alexandria Combined Sewer Overflow (House Bill 2383) Passed/awaiting Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s signature. Potomac Riverkeeper Network advocated strongly for this law, if signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, would set a deadline of 2025 for the City of Alexandria to fix their combined sewage overflow system and put an end to millions of gallons of untreated sewage being discharged into the Potomac. This bi-partisan bill could be vetoed,  allowing Alexandria to kick the can down the road, delaying critical clean water infrastructure investment and addressing a serious public health problem for years. Call Gov. McAuliffe now: 804-786-2211.
  • Proper Coal Ash Management (Senate Bill 1398) Passed and enacted. The James River and Potomac River watersheds are home to coal ash ponds adjacent to either the main river or tributaries. Coal ash, a waste product of burning coal for electricity generation, contains arsenic, lead and mercury among other toxics. In Virginia, Riverkeepers on the Potomac and James Rivers had a big victory with the passage of a bill that places a moratorium on solid waste permits for coal ash ponds until Dominion conducts a study of alternatives such as excavating and removing the coal ash to lined landfills located away from waterbodies. Thanks to all who called their legislators and the Virginia governor Dominion will not get a free-pass to bury tons of toxic coal ash on the banks of Virginia's rivers.
  • Protecting Valuable Oyster Reefs (House Bill 1796) Passed and enacted . The James River Association worked to pass this legislation to prohibit dredging harvests in sanctuary areas of the James River.
  • Eminent Domain and Pipelines. Shenandoah Riverkeeper supported the following bills regarding infrastructure requirements and property seizures around oil and gas pipeline construction:
    • House Bill 1993 Passed and enacted. Requires state highway authorities to document the condition of highways on the route to approved pipelines and for VDOT to enter an agreement with the company building the pipeline to take responsibility for affected roadways.
    • House Bill 927 Passed and enacted. Extends the timeframe for taking legal action on a property seized by eminent domain from 60 to 180 days.

Historic Bill Will Protect Our Clean Water Resources

Annapolis, MD - Today the Maryland Senate passed a statewide fracking ban bill, HB 1325, by a vote of 36 to 10. Maryland would be the third state to ban fracking, but the first state with gas reserves to pass a ban through the legislature. The passage of this bill comes on the heels of a massive statewide and people-powered campaign involving thousands of Marylanders in rallies, marches, petition deliveries, and phone calls to legislators. The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Hogan, who is expected to sign it after he announced his support for the ban earlier this month.

“Waterkeepers across the region applaud the vote today in the Maryland Senate to ban fracking statewide,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “This vote was the result of an incredible grassroots movement across Maryland, and especially in Western Maryland, that demanded the legislature protect their families, livelihoods, and clean water and air from the irreversible damage caused by fracking.”

“I’m elated that the Maryland legislature agreed that mounting evidence demonstrates that the fracking industry has a sorry history of noncompliance and violations of environmental regulations and permits, and determined the only way to safeguard our waterways and drinking water supplies is to not allow fracking to start in Maryland,” said Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper.

“As a member of the Don’t Frack Maryland steering committee and a home owner in Garrett County, I have witnessed first-hand the power of a persistent, science-based grassroots campaign. Residents across the state, and especially in Western Maryland, voiced their opposition to fracking for the past 7 years. We thank the legislature for hearing them and acting today to protect our water, air and land resources for generations to come,” said Robin Broder, Board Member, Waterkeepers Chesapeake.

We give a special thanks our key partners in the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition: Citizen Shale, Don’t Frack Western Maryland, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Howard County Climate Action, Food & Water Watch, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Maryland Sierra Club and Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Read Food & Water Watch's blog on how people power won!