The abundant natural gas produced in Pennsylvania and West Virginia could do a lot of good for East Coast states—reducing electric bills, improving reliability, and even helping create manufacturing jobs. But it can only do those things if the gas can get to where it is needed. Unfortunately, New York has led the Atlantic states in opposing natural gas, both by imposing a moratorium on in-state fracking and by using section 401 of the Clean Water Act to block pipelines that would move through the state. Maryland is not far behind in the obstructionism, and the state legislature will soon consider another bill making it even harder for proposed pipelines under section 401.
Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, has already enacted a statewide ban on fracking, though it is not as significant as New York’s since Maryland has considerably less production potential. But the governor has also opposed, in his capacity as a member of the state’s Board of Public Works, TransCanada’s Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project through the state.
The Maryland State Assembly will soon consider H.B. 669/S.B. 387, which will add more hurdles to proposed natural gas pipeline approvals under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Under this provision, applicants for federal approval of a pipeline must also receive certifications of compliance from affected states.
This requirement has already been aggressively used by New York and other states to block pipelines and other energy infrastructure projects, and there are concerns that it is increasingly being exploited as a global warming policy tool. H.B. 669/S.B. 387 would impose further burdens on the state of Maryland before it could certify a natural gas pipeline under section 401.