Environmental and community groups took the first step late yesterday in a likely legal battle against a controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility. On behalf of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Sierra Club, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Patuxent Riverkeeper, and Potomac Riverkeeper the environmental law organization Earthjustice filed a motion for rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), demanding the agency withdraw its approval of an LNG export facility proposed at Cove Point in southern Maryland. The filing positions the groups to sue the agency to challenge FERC’s inadequate environmental review of the project.
Groups also filed a motion for a stay, urging FERC to halt further construction on the $3.8 billion project. The agency approved the project on September 29 over the objections of opponents who argued the massive facility, proposed by Dominion Resources, will spur air and water pollution from fracking across the mid-Atlantic region and, according to federal data, could contribute more to global warming over the next two decades than if the Asian countries importing the facility’s LNG exports burned regionally-sourced coal.
In the days following FERC’s approval, Dominion moved quickly to begin construction on the project, ignoring FERC’s requirement that their construction and emergency plans be made available for community review before requesting to proceed. Additionally, despite public outcry over the potential for a catastrophic explosion at the facility, Dominion filed an updated emergency response plan with FERC but insisted on keeping all of the details of the plan secret from the public—claiming this information, along with other details of their project, is “proprietary.” In statements to the press, Dominion explained that it is planning on building a new evacuation route, but has yet to provide the details to FERC.