LNG facility prohibition approved by Md. panel
Maryland's Critical Areas Commission unanimously approved Baltimore County's prohibition on liquefied natural gas facilities in certain coastal areas yesterday, while lawyers argued in federal court about the constitutionality of the restriction.
The County Council passed legislation in February adding the construction of an LNG plant to a list of uses banned from environmentally sensitive coastal areas. But to formally adopt the change within its Coastal Zone Management Plan, the county had to receive approval from the state's Critical Areas Commission, the panel that oversees the development and implementation of local land-use programs in coastal areas.
AES Corp., a global power company, wants to build an LNG facility on Sparrows Point. The Patapsco River would have to be dredged to accommodate the tankers importing the condensed fuel. And county officials and some residents say the process would stir up toxins that could harm the Chesapeake Bay.
Jeffrey A. Lamken, a lawyer for AES, argued yesterday before U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett that the county law should be ruled invalid, saying that it "is a specific effort to single out LNG," which local governments may not do under federal energy law.
County attorneys argued that the change to the local coastal zone management was permitted under federal law. The county is not seeking to stop the project based on the change to its coastal zone management program, said County Attorney John E. Beverungen.
But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which decides where LNG facilities can be built, would consider whether the AES proposal conflicts with the state's coastal zone management program in deciding whether to approve the project, according to county officials.
Bennett did not immediately rule on the requests by both sides to decide the legal questions in the case without a trial.
The judge struck down an earlier county law aimed at keeping LNG terminals from being built close to homes.
Warehouse fire debris being doused
Baltimore County firefighters were continuing to pour water on smoldering debris from a six-alarm fire that destroyed a warehouse in the southwestern area of the county, officials said yesterday.
Firefighters sprayed the debris with water yesterday as a contractor removed debris from the 1400 block of Rome Road, officials said.
The debris removal will continue for several days, fire officials said. To ensure community safety, the area around the burned warehouse has been fenced off.
Fire investigators estimate damages at $15 million to $20 million.
Fiesta Filipiniana to be held Sunday
The Katipunan, Maryland's largest Filipino-American association, will host the 38th Fiesta Filipiniana from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday in the Baltimore County Courthouse Plaza in Towson.
Admission is free. Free parking will be available in garages on Washington Street and Susquehanna Avenue. Information: 410-608-8129.
Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.