WASHINGTON – Maryland
Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski today sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging rejection of the permit application to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Sparrows Point.
“It is a poor decision to locate a LNG facility in such a densely populated area of Baltimore City and Baltimore County,” said Senator Cardin. “I join other members of the Delegation in opposing this facility, and I urge the Army Corp to reject AES's application. This facility is not in the best interest of Baltimore area residents.”
“I am deeply concerned for the safety of communities surrounding the site and the potential environmental impact of the facility. Residents need more time to make sure their voice is heard before a LNG site is built in their neighborhood,” said Senator Mikulski. “I need to know that all of Maryland will be secure.”
Also joining the Senators on the letter to the Army Corps were: U.S. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-7), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2) and John Sarbanes ((D-3). The letter contains specific objections to the permit application submitted by AES Sparrows Point LNG to dredge an entrance channel and turning basin to construct a dredged material recycling facility to support the LNG facility.
The full text of the letter is below:
Colonel Peter W. Mueller
Commander and District Engineer
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District
PO Box 1715
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-1715
Dear Col. Mueller:
We are writing to urge you to reject the permit application recently submitted by AES Sparrows Point LNG, LLC and Mid-Atlantic Express, LLC to dredge an entrance channel and turning basin and to construct a dredged material recycling facility to support the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import/storage terminal, pipeline and related facilities.
Over the years, the Maryland congressional delegation and state and local officials have worked very hard, individually and collectively, to sustain and improve the Port of Baltimore, its maritime commerce, and the vitality of the local community. We have worked closely with the Maryland Port Administration and the Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the maintenance of and improvements to the Port's shipping channels and anchorages to facilitate the movement of commercial vessel traffic and the environmentally sound management of the dredged material from those channels. In our judgment, AES' proposed LNG facility and the associated dredging project would undermine these activities.
Specifically, AES' permit application fails to address how the company plans to dispose of up to 4 million cubic yards of dredged material – including contaminated material — for the project, in an environmentally sound and viable manner. Existing and proposed dredged material containment sites do not have the capacity to handle this volume of material and the Harbor's Dredging Material Management Plan does not account for and can not accommodate this material. Moreover, we are deeply concerned that the LNG terminal and LNG tankers would negatively impact commercial and cruise ships utilizing the Port of Baltimore's navigational channels, as well as recreational boaters and commercial watermen in the surrounding waters, due to the 1500 foot safety/exclusionary zone. Recreational and commercial vessels would be constrained from free movement in the Port's channels and area waters by the security zone for LNG tankers and the terminal, resulting in delays and
congestion problems, as well as economic loses to the Port and recreational maritime industries. In addition, local and state authorities have raised serious concerns that the location of the LNG plant at Sparrows Point is inconsistent with the economic redevelopment plans for Baltimore County and would hamper future use of the site as a potential marine terminal serving the needs of the Port of Baltimore.
As you know, the Corps' regulatory review process requires the careful weighing of all factors relevant to the public interest including the project's potential impacts on the environment, Port-related and recreational industries, local land use plans as well as the needs and welfare of citizens in the surrounding communities. Our area Congressional Delegation, Governor O'Malley, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and other local officials and community leaders believe this project poses unacceptable public safety, economic and environmental risks and does not serve the public interest. In view of the substantial issues and concerns that are being raised by the proposed LNG terminal and associated dredging project, we urge you to reject this permit application.