Columbia Gas Pipeline Proposal

Residents of the 11th District:

We would like to inform you of a natural gas pipeline proposed by Columbia Gas to be constructed from Owings Mills in Baltimore County to Fallston in Harford County. The proposed route could significantly impact many of our homes, communities, and natural environments in the 11th District. As your state legislators, we have concerns about this project, and urge you to become fully informed of these issues and take action.

In order for this project to proceed, Columbia Gas must acquire the approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the national agency that regulates interstate energy matters. We are working hard to understand how state and local governments can impact these decisions. So we may best represent the interests of the community, it is imperative that you understand the likely ramifications of the proposal.

The proposed pipeline would involve digging 5 foot ditches across a 21 mile path in order to fit a 26" diameter pipe over the route outlined above. Columbia gas proposes to follow the path of an existing pipeline built many decades ago, but it is not required to do so. This construction in our area could threaten or destroy natural environments, necessitate clearing of trees and vegetation, cross streams and wetlands, and endanger species. Although Columbia Gas is obligated to mitigate any damage, we are not convinced their actions will be satisfactory. Environmental impacts could be severe and permanent. Further, this project may impact property rights on individual homes since the company may be permitted to add a 25 foot variance to the 50 feet they already have. If approved, citizens could have structures, such as playgrounds and gardens, taken in exchange for "fair market value."

Moreover, we have not yet been persuaded that this project is necessary. Our area is not serviced by this company or the pipeline. Note too that this pipeline is for natural gas transmission only; it will not make natural gas available where it is not, and it will not reduce your utility rates. Even assuming that a pipeline is needed, we believe it is essential that it have minimal impact on property rights and the natural environment. In addition, we are concerned about the lack of transparency demonstrated by Columbia Gas thus far.

Please take the time to educate yourself and your community on this issue. Whether or not you are personally affected by the specific route, we all share in the value of our beautiful environment and community, and we should be united in overseeing this effort.

There are two meetings scheduled on this issue where you may offer testimony as well as learn more details. The first is on May 8 at 7:00 pm at Oregon Ridge Lodge. The second is on May 9 at 7:00 pm at Youth’s Benefit Elementary School Cafeteria in Fallston.

Because the FERC is a federal agency, we recommend you contact federal officials. Please contact your Congressman (John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings, Roscoe Bartlett, or Andy Harris, depending on where you live) and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski. Because Columbia Gas is required to "cooperate" with local and state officials, it is important that the County Executive, County Council, and Governor O’Malley hear from us as well.

In addition, you can send written comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Attn: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, 888 First St., NE, Room 1A, Washington, D.C. 20426. You may also comment online at www.FERC.gov. From the site, click on "Documents and Filings" then "eFiling." Be sure to reference docket number PF 12-6-000. These comments must be received by May 16 to be considered during the "pre-filing period."

We do not want this to become a project all about corporate profit for Columbia Gas at the expense of our community.

In conclusion, we will work with you to endeavor to get all the facts. As this is a federal interstate issue, it is not clear what impact our comments and efforts will have, but we should try to engage in the process before FERC approves this project and it becomes too late to act.

Sincerely,
11th District Legislators