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MD Delegation Seeks More Time to Make Case Against Sparrows Point Project

The Maryland congressional delegation led by Sen. Barbara Mikulski has called on FERC to extend the public comment period for the proposed Sparrows Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Baltimore County, MD.

"Given Maryland's transition to a new governor and a new cabinet, we believe additional time will be necessary for the state to properly and fully share their views with the [FERC]. The governor, and particularly his cabinet secretaries for environment and transportation, must be given enough time to determine its environmental and security impact on the surrounding area, including significant national security assets and the Port of Baltimore," wrote the six-member delegation in a letter to FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher Monday.

"We oppose the siting of the proposed LNG facility in a densely populated area near the communities of southeastern Baltimore...In a post 9-11 world, LNG facilities are an attractive target for terrorists, and we must make sure that every view and concern is heard when reviewing this case," the lawmakers said.

AES Corp. earlier this month formally filed its application for the Sparrows Point LNG project, which would be built at the site of a former steel mill on a peninsula that juts out into Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore (see Daily GPI, Jan. 9). But the 1.5 Bcf/d project has virtually no local political support.

LNG import projects planned near large population centers have not fared well in recent years, and Sparrows Point would be less than two miles from the nearest residential housing. Baltimore County already has passed an ordinance that bars construction of LNG terminals within five miles of homes. AES has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the ordinance.

While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the final say on whether LNG projects should be built, states are increasingly using their authority under the Coastal Zone Management Act to block projects.

Sparrows Point would have about 1.5 Bcf/d of regasification capacity with a potential for expansion to 2.25 Bcf/d. Regasified LNG would be delivered to regional markets via the Mid-Atlantic Express pipeline, an 87-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that would extend from the terminal to connections with interstate pipelines at Eagle, PA. The pipeline also would include connections with local distribution company Baltimore Gas & Electric. AES also is considering building a 300 MW gas-fired combined-cycle power plant at the terminal site.

The project, including three LNG storage tanks, would be located on 80 acres within the existing Sparrows Point Industrial Complex in Baltimore County. The site was previously owned by Bethlehem Steel and housed a steel manufacturing and shipbuilding facility.

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