Proposed Potomac River pipeline project stirs debate in DMV

A proposal to build a natural gas pipeline under part of the Potomac River is a point of concern for some DMV residents.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - A proposal to build a natural gas pipeline under part of the Potomac River is a point of concern for some DMV residents.

A company named TransCanada has plans to construct a three-mile pipeline that would funnel natural gas from Pennsylvania, through Maryland, into West Virginia. 

The Maryland Department of Environment held a public hearing in Hancock, Maryland Tuesday evening. The proposed pipeline would pass through the Hancock area.

Many residents attended the meeting to tell public officials they were worried the pipeline could pollute the local area. Some DC residents also made the drive north to discuss the issue as well.

DC Resident Johanna Bozuwa said she was worried any disturbance to the pipeline could impact drinking water downstream aournd the District. She added she does not trust TransCanada.

"This isn't an issue of if it's going to spill," she said. "It's when it's going to spill."

The DC Council weighed in on the issue by writing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. The letter urged the governor to stop the pipeline's construction.

Several environmental groups based in Maryland echoed the same sentiment.

"There's no benefit to Maryland," said Phillip Musegaas, of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network. "No benefit to this region."

Mike Tidwell, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said he believes the State of Maryland should commit to a more transparent process.

"TransCanada is happy to inflict pain on the State of Maryland and take the profits to Canada, but that's just not right," he said.

Transcanada says the project will directly bring jobs to West Virgina while improving the economy across the border.

"The economic development will benefit the Maryland region as well," said TransCanada manager Scott Castleman.

He defended the company's plans too. Castleman said there are other pipelines that already cross the Potomac River. 

On top of that, he added the drilling fluid that would be used to construct pipeline is not harmful. Opponents of the project have claimed otherwise.

"There is no concern of that," said Castleman. "It's a nontoxic mud. It's a natural mud."

The Maryland Department of the Environment will take written comments on the proposal through January 16 as they continue to review the application for this project's permit.

© 2018 WUSA-TV


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