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MD Governor Cites 'Negative Impacts' of Sparrows Point Project

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley Wednesday questioned the safety of AES Corp.'s Sparrows Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposed for Baltimore County, MD, and asked the agency to reject the project.

"We have very serious concerns regarding the safety of the proposed project, as well as its impacts to the state's environment and economy," the new governor wrote in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"Specifically, we do not believe that the AES proposal meets the requirements of 'remote siting;' adequately addresses threats posed by adjacent land uses; provides for the safe evacuation of the public in the event of an emergency; addresses the significant environmental impacts associated with dredging, air emissions and pipeline construction; [or] recognizes the economic impacts to the Port of Baltimore, commercial and recreational activities on Chesapeake Bay," he said.

"For all these reasons, I urge FERC to recognize the serious negative impacts of this proposal to the state of Maryland, its citizens, environment and economy, and deny approval of this project."

The letter accompanied an "Advisory Report" submitted to the Commission that outlined in detail state and local concerns about the proposed terminal, which would be built at the site of a former steel mill on a peninsula that juts out into Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore.

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.

Members of the Maryland congressional delegation expressed their opposition to the Sparrows Point LNG project in a letter to FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher last month. The bipartisan group of lawmakers included Democratic Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben L. Cardin, and Democratic Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Sarbanes, as well as Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (see Daily GPI, Jan. 31).

AES formally filed its application for the Sparrows Point project last month (see Daily GPI, Jan. 9). The project 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 is considering building a 300 MW gas-fired combined-cycle power plant at the terminal site as well.

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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