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Environmental activist has Lyme disease


Takoma Park, MD – An environmentalist who has been prominent in the opposition to the plan to convert a Calvert County gas plant into an export facility has Lyme disease. Mike Tidwell, the founder and president of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), made the announcement Dec. 11 in a letter to supporters.

Tidwell, a Takoma Park resident, stated he began to experience symptoms of the disease last spring. He was diagnosed with Lyme disease in October.

“I’m now part of a major epidemic—one likely linked to global warming,” Tidwell stated. “Lyme disease cases have skyrocketed in recent years and federal data show a parallel with rising temperatures. Globally, scientists say cases of tick- and mosquito-borne diseases will increase with climate change.”

Tidwell and his organization have participated in protests against Dominion’s plan to build a $3.8 billion liquefaction facility at Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant in Lusby. The project has begun after a lengthy permitting process, which included public hearings held by the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It was the latter agency that granted final approval for the plan this past September.

Despite receiving the go-ahead, project foes have continued their protests, with several activists getting arrested during demonstrations in southern Calvert County.

Tidwell promised in his missive that the opposition will also be enunciated in another venue.

“We’re just getting started in our legal battle against Dominion Resources’ $3.8 billion fracked gas export facility at Cove Point along the Chesapeake Bay, as we fight to keep fracking wells out of Maryland,” Tidwell stated.

Tidwell coupled his announcement of contracting Lyme disease with a request for supporters to “make a generous year-end, tax-deductible donation to CCAN. We’re ready to push harder than ever in 2015 for real solutions to the climate crisis.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been keeping track of Lyme disease data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data indicates Lyme disease cases have doubled in the U.S. since 1991 and the tick-borne bacterial illness— which can cause fever, fatigue and joint nervous system complications—is driven by multiple factors. Climate is consistently cited as one of the factors. Moreover, Maryland is one of 14 states with Lyme disease rates that are more than 10 times higher than most other states.

In a blog published this past March, Climate Progress founder and physicist Joseph Romm declared that LNG exports would pose “double jeopardy” in the effort to reverse climate change since natural gas is “mostly methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas.” Romm opined that LNG was “even worse” and “cooling natural gas to about -162 degrees centigrade and shipping it overseas is costly and energy intensive.”

In their response to a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the liquefaction project, Dominion affirmed that “the potential greenhouse emissions for the facility will be about 3.3 million tons per year” but “actual emissions will be less because this is the potential level if all turbines were operating at their maximum output for the maximum amount of time and if we were importing and liquefying/exporting natural gas at the same time.”

Dominion officials have indicated those procedures will not be occurring simultaneously.

The liquefaction unit construction is expected to be completed by 2017.

Dominion officials have stated the construction project is expected to create 3,000 jobs during its three-year duration. Calvert County will receive an additional $45 million per year on average in the first five years after the project is up and running, company officials have stated.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com

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