Sen. Zirkin is standing up for the public interest in pipeline dispute

Your recent article about Sen. Robert A. Zirkin's dispute with Columbia Gas unfairly portrayed the senator's efforts to convince the company to reroute its proposed underground high-pressure transmission pipeline ("Senator, gas company clash over pipeline," March 3).

The article implies that Senator Zirkin is leading this effort solely for personal gain. In fact, he and his family are not directly affected by the proposed new route. But he has given voice to the concerns of those of us who will be.

Instead of concentrating on the issues at hand, your article diverges into matters that are irrelevant to the fundamental question: Why does Columbia Gas need another pipeline and why, except for a recent change that excludes Gun Powder State Park, is expansion of the current right-of-way the only viable alternative being considered?

Had your reporter done more research, he might have been a little more skeptical of Columbia Gas' claims, particularly regarding Mr. Zirkin's efforts to modify the proposed routing of the pipeline.

Had he talked to more of the homeowners affected by the proposed easement, he also would have found that Columbia Gas seems unable to get the story straight. The company says that the purpose of the pipeline will be "to enhance system flexibility and reliability in serving high-demand markets" with natural gas. These are ambiguous words and belie the fact that the new pipeline is large enough to permit interstate transmission of natural gas through Dominion Cove.

If the proposed gas transmission pipeline is intended for interstate commerce, why not make that public now?

Your reporter might also have found that Mr. Zirkin has offered written descriptions of alternate routes for the pipeline. One of Mr. Zirkin's proposals utilizes a BG&E electrical easement, avoiding almost all of the problematic incursions near most of the affected homeowners in Baltimore County and all of Oregon Ridge Park. But Columbia claims that BG&E, its customer, did not like that alternative.

The placement of this inadequately defined pipeline through environmentally fragile and highly populated areas is not in the public interest. I and others directly affected by the project support Mr. Zirkin's efforts to find an alternative route that will have less impact on safety and the environment in Baltimore and Harford counties.

David Raymond, Cockeysville

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad