‘our lives are worth at least 79 bucks’

September 18, 2014

Tracey Eno handed federal energy regulators a check for $79 today.

The money is a grant from Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, which for more than a year has been fighting Dominion’s $3.8 billion scheme to liquefy and export fracked gas from their Southern Maryland town — “850 feet from where children are playing, sleeping and getting on the school bus,” Eno said.

Seizing a moment before the start of the monthly meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, DC, Eno urged regulators to use the grant to buy the most recent edition of national fire safety standards that govern the production, storage, and handling of liquefied natural gas. FERC’s preliminary approval for the Dominion facility cited the 2001 edition, which, Eno told commissioners, “fails to incorporate the lessons learned from the catastrophic explosions at a Skikda, Algeria, LNG export terminal in 2004. That disaster flattened steel buildings, killed 27 people and injured more than 70.”

“Dominion calls itself a ‘good neighbor’ — because it has neighbors,” Eno said. “It sits right across the street from hundreds of homes, and next door to a public park. Cove Point is closer to people’s homes than any other proposed export site. Dominion’s application grossly misrepresented the population of Lusby. They didn’t even list our town—the very town where their plant is located. They ‘forgot’ 39,732 people who live in the surrounding area. They ‘missed’ almost 90 percent of us. Cove Point is NOT a remote site! Inside the 2-mile evacuation radius alone there are more than 8,000 people.”

Others opposed to the Dominion facility stood near Eno, holding up small banners saying “EIS for COVE POINT” until officers made them lower the signs.

“I’m also here standing in solidarity with all those who can’t come to DC today — from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania to the playgrounds of Myersville, Maryland,” Eno said. “We stand in opposition to the web of pipelines and compressor stations that are turning our rural, beautiful, towns into sacrifice zones as a direct result of this and related projects.”

FERC Chairman Cheryl A. LaFleur thanked Eno. And called the regular meeting to order.

Here is the text of Tracey Eno’s speech to the commission:

Commissioners: My name is Tracey Eno. I am a resident of Lusby, MD, from a neighborhood called Cove Point. None of you came to the FERC meeting in Lusby, so I have come to you. Right now, you are in danger of turning my neighborhood into a sacrifice zone for the gas industry — if you approve the Dominion Cove Point LNGexport facility without fully studying the hazards of the project.

My neighbors and I have dedicated a significant part of our lives over the past year to understanding the threats this $3.8 billion project would pose to us. I wish I had a reason to be confident that you — FERC commissioners — have done the same. I wish I had a reason to think that you viewed as ‘significant’ the health and safety of my community, the climate, the Chesapeake Bay, and all the communities in the way of Dominion’s fracked gas exports. But, sadly, I do not.

For more than a year, we have been pleading with you to provide the information on the full effects from this proposal — in the form of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement. This should include at minimum a basic human safety study: a Quantitative Risk Assessment. Yet, at every turn you have lowered the bar of scrutiny for Dominion, even as the evidence of threats to our communities has continued to rise.

COVE POINT IS CLOSER TO PEOPLE’S HOMES THAN AT ANY OTHER PROPOSED EXPORT SITE.   Dominion’s application grossly misrepresented the population of Lusby. They didn’t even list our town — the very town where their plant is located! They “forgot” 39,732 people who live in the surrounding area. They “missed” almost 90 percent of us. Cove Point is NOT a remote site! Inside the 2-mile evacuation radius alone there are more than 8,000 people.

If built, Cove Point will be only the second LNG export terminal ever built in the lower 48. It will have the unique and terrifying distinction of being the only LNG export terminal in the history of the industry ever to be built in such a densely populated, residential area. Dominion calls itself a “Good Neighbor” — because it has neighbors. It sits right across the street from hundreds of homes, and next door to a public park.  A large-scale liquefaction train, filled with highly pressurized, explosive, propane refrigerant will be operating 24/7 about 850 feet from where children are playing, sleeping and getting on the school bus. Never was the need for remote siting regulations more critical than for this project.

I didn’t come here empty-handed today. We know federal budgets are tight, so I brought with me a check for $79, which is a grant from Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community.

Please use it to buy a copy of the latest safety standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 59A: “Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas 2013 Edition.”  The 2013 edition was written to safeguard the lives of citizens living close to LNG terminals.

Lusby residents were HORRIFIED to learn in the draft environmental assessment that FERC applied the 2001 federal fire protection standards. 2001 does not adequately address the dangers of LNG export equipment and processes. It fails to incorporate the lessons learned from the catastrophic explosions at a Skikda, Algeria, LNG export terminal in 2004. That disaster flattened steel buildings, killed 27 people and injured more than 70. The 2013 edition is the first to wisely require a quantitative risk assessment to assess the risks to residents offsite.

We believe that you know full well that an analysis of the risks to residents at Cove Point would shock the conscience of America. Because such an analysis couldn’t help but show how much risk our government is willing to dump on the shoulders of its citizens to benefit a private enterprise. But just in case a budget issue is keeping FERC from applying the latest safety standards, we wanted to pitch in and do our part. Our lives are worth at least 79 bucks. Please buy, and use, the 2013 NFPA 59A standards.

I’m not here just for my family and my neighborhood, I’m also here standing in solidarity with all those who can’t come to DC today — from the fracking fields of Pennsylvania to the playgrounds of Myersville, Maryland. We stand in opposition to the web of pipelines and compressor stations that are turning our rural, beautiful, towns into sacrifice zones as a direct result of this and related projects.

Commissioners, we’re watching you. My neighbors have submitted significant technical comments. We’ve worked with allies to gather more than 150,000 public comments. We’ve testified in person to the “stand-in officials” you sent to the public meeting in Lusby in May.  I’ve also brought a petition with 19,502 signatures of people across the country who are urging you to look more closely at the dangers of Cove Point. They are urging you to make the decision that serves the public good — not the gas industry’s bottom line — by denying Cove Point.

I’m here to ask you to do the right thing. Show us that our safety matters to you. Show us that you are a regulator for the public interest, not merely a servant of the oil and gas industry. Cove Point is NOT a remote site! We know it and you know it. Please don’t put me and my Cove Point neighbors in harm’s way.  Order a full Environmental Impact Statement, including a Quantitative Risk Assessment. Study ALL the facts before you consider approving Dominion Cove Point. OR — just be honest — and admit that a residential neighborhood is the wrong place for dangerous LNG exports — and deny Dominion Cove Point right now.

–elisabeth hoffman

 

 

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3 Responses to “‘our lives are worth at least 79 bucks’”

  1. Dave Twigg said

    What is up with the ban on signs at these public hearings? It seems to me that not allowing them infringes on our rights to free speech. If signs aren’t allowed in a particular hearing room perhaps the hearing should be held in a place where free speech is allowed.

  2. Polly said

    Brava! Thank you!

  3. Liz said

    Looks like it was a powerful action. Sorry that I missed it.

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