From the Craig/Haddaway campaign:
Harford County Executive and Maryland Governor Candidate David Craig called on incumbent Governor Martin O’Malley to push the Obama Administration to complete a final regulatory review to enable a facility in southern Maryland to export liquefied natural gas. The issue takes on greater urgency as the Ukraine and several European countries seek long-term solutions to reduce dependence on Russian energy exports.
“Now is not the time for dithering and red tape,” said Craig. “Maryland is on the verge of being only the second state in the country to export liquefied natural gas and our proximity to the Marcellus Shale, and the Atlantic Ocean and existing infrastructure gives us a competitive advantage that nobody else has. Maryland can attract thousands of energy sector jobs and help assert U.S. influence in the crisis in the Ukraine. But we must act now.”
Ambassadors to the U.S. from Hungary, Poland and the Czech and Slovak republics wrote House Speaker John Boehner last week that U.S. “natural gas would be much welcome in Central and Eastern Europe, and Congressional action to expedite [liquefied natural gas] exports to America’s allies would come at a critically important time for the region.”
The U.S. Department of Energy has approved just six export licenses for LNG projects, including Cove Point, since 2011. Dominion Resources-owned Cove Point, in Lusby, MD, is one of about 20 U.S. projects that want to export LNG. Of those, only one, in Louisiana, has full federal permitting.
Delays in Maryland are coming on multiple fronts. Political support among the O’Malley-Brown Administration is non-existent. Gubernatorial candidate and legislator Heather Mizeur is leading the charge in outright opposition to the project, while Lt. Gov. and front-runner candidate Anthony Brown promotes “environmental justice,” a left-wing social movement that attempts to stifle energy exploration wherever politically-favored constituencies may object The other democratic gubernatorial candidate, the current Attorney General, is opposed to timely approval of the project. Apart from general statements about the importance of developing jobs and traditional forms of energy, GOP primary candidates for Governor have heretofore not yet articulated positions on the issue.
Meanwhile, environmental groups are lobbying in force against the Cove Point project, including one which is also involved in fighting the Keystone – XL pipeline in the Midwest.
Absent political leadership, it is federal regulators that have direct control over what happens next. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is deciding whether to require an exhaustive Environmental Impact Statement which could derail or delay the project for years.
“Instead of picking winners and losers and subsidizing the most expensive options such as wind energy, we should be taking advantage of our existing resources and diversifying in a way that is meaningful to our economy and to job creation,” said Del. Jeannie Haddaway, who is running for Lt. Governor on the ticket with Craig. “The choice is clear, the opportunity is now.”
There are pockets of political support among key members of the state legislature and Maryland’s lone GOP Congressman.
Rep. Andy Harris a long-time natural gas “fracking” proponent, said as the energy boom took hold of neighboring states in recent years,”we could be a part of the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom sweeping across many of our neighboring states.”
Craig will elaborate further on the Cove Point permitting issue and other important energy concerns, including state efforts to indefinitely delay natural gas extraction through fracking at a Baltimore Sun Newsmaker forum this evening at 7 P.M.
“We need to fight for this just as aggressively as our opponents are fighting against it,” said Craig. “Now is the time to unite around the issues of jobs, energy independence and restoring the positive influence of America in world affairs.”