Two dozen protesters were arrested in Washington Monday after they blocked entrances to the federal commission reviewing a proposed natural gas export terminal and liquefaction plant in Southern Maryland.
Protesters opposed to exporting liquefied natural gas through Cove Point in Lusby sat down in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's headquarters. Some held signs, including one calling the agency the "Fracking Expansion Rubberstamp Commission" and another warning that the project was "risky business."
Police handcuffed protesters and led them away, releasing them a short while later with citations for blocking a public passageway.
Monday's protest followed a rally and march on Sunday that drew hundreds demonstrating their opposition to the export facility, which they contend puts nearby residents at risk of fire or explosion. They also argue exporting LNG will encourage more shale gas drilling at a time when many though not all environmentalists are concerned about its impacts on local air quality, ground-water and global climate.
Dominion, the Richmond-based energy company seeking FERC approval to export LNG from Cove Point, issued a statement saying the protestors were "misrepresenting facts and ignoring the benefits" of the project.
The company statement noted that the commission's staff review found that the liquefaction plant and related export facility "can be built and operated safely with no significant impact to the environment." And it reiterated that a recent consultant's report commissioned by project opponents warning of elevated risks of fire and explosion was "fundamentally flawed." The company also said that while Cove Pont likely will handle gas produced from Marcellus shale wells, not all of its exports will come from that region.
Dominion projects exporting LNG through Cove Point will provide $40 million a year in tax revenues for Calvert County, create 75 permanent jobs and support thousands of construction jobs during the conversion of the little-used import terminal.