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Court rules in favor of gas plant operators


Baltimore, MD -
The owners and operators of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Calvert County have won another court victory. The latest ruling was rendered Feb. 16 by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. According to court documents, an environmental group—Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Communities Council Inc. (AMP)—petition judicial review of the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (PSC) authorization of Dominion Cove Point’s plan to construct an electric generating station to power a natural gas liquefaction facility. The liquefaction facility is currently under construction at the plant in Lusby.

The Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, presented an unreported opinion written by Judge Kevin F. Arthur. The opinion was a reaffirmation of an early ruling on the matter by the Circuit Court For Baltimore City.

The PSC granted the certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), with conditions, for construction of the electric generating station in May 2014.

“Because AMP has not clearly shown the commission’s decision to be unconstitutional, unsupported by substantial evidence, outside of the commission’s authority, or arbitrary or capricious, we affirm the judgement of the circuit court, which affirmed the decision of the commission,” Arthur wrote.

“The decision is not surprising,” said Dominion spokesman Karl Neddenien. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the Dominion Cove Point LNG Liquefaction Project has consistently been upheld in the courts as well as by federal and state regulators. Liquefaction project construction continues on schedule for completion in late 2017.”

"We will be appealing the decision," AMP attorney Sean Canavan told The BayNet.  "As the PSC conceded the station at issue in this case will harm Maryland environmentally and economically. The fact that the PSC admitted this but nevertheless granted a CPCN was illegal and we are hopeful the Court of Appeals will recognize that."

The project, which costs an estimated $3.8 billion, is predicted to substantially increase revenue for Calvert County Government once the facility is in operation. Dominion officials estimate Calvert will realize an annual average of $40 million in added tax revenue once the facility allows the company to export natural gas to foreign countries. The liquefaction unit will also add 75 new jobs at the local plant.

Meanwhile, opponents of the ongoing project at the plant are continuing to demonstrate. The local group We Are Cove Point announced last week it is sponsoring a nine-day event called “Cove Point Spring Break.” The event is billed by organizers as an “action camp. This camp is not just for college students and/or seasoned activists. It’s for everyone—students and non-students alike.” The opposition organization stated in an event synopsis that the camp would include discussions on “collective resistance and environmental justice, to direct action training and ‘kayativism.’ ” The latter item involves the mobilization of kayakers and training will be facilitated by the Backbone Campaign.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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