Proposed Columbia Gas Expansion Will Have Significant Impact To Area

Background

Earlier this year, several households in the community received letters from Columbia Gas Transmission regarding possible planned work involving existing gas easements on our properties. Many of us did not initially pay a great deal of attention since the rights of way are well known and we have come to expect a certain amount of maintenance and disruption from time to time. However it turns out this is a much more expansive project than was indicated by the letter.

Much to our dismay, during several outreach meetings held by the company, we discovered that Columbia Gas is in the early stages of Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) approval for permanently doubling the width of the existing easement from 25 feet to 50 feet over the course of 21.3 miles from Owings Mills to Fallston in order to lay a new 26 inch diameter pipeline. This is a $150M extension as part of a massive multi-billion dollar interstate project to increase pipeline redundancy from the Gulf States to the Northeast. Their plan states that construction would disturb about 300 acres of land for this portion of the project. Preliminary work would start late fall 2012, with heavy construction running from late spring through October 2013. The proposed plan, which is in the pre-filing stage at the FERC can be found under Docket No. PF12-6-000 at www.ferc.gov.

A very useful summary can be found at the Federal Register including specific directions for how to file a comment or concern.  Please note that the filing period ends on May 16, 2012.

Impact to the Falls Road Corridor

The path of the pipeline goes directly through many private residential and public properties in the Falls Road community: from  Greenspring, across Falls Road just south of Ridge Road, through Oregon Ridge Park, and through Hayfields before continuing  Northeast toward Harford County.  Not only does Columbia Gas propose permanently doubling the size of the easements, but the following impacts are expected:

  • Temporary easements along most of the pipeline in addition to the new permanent easements in order to build temporary roads and stage and store construction equipment, with a total width of up to 125 feet during construction.
  • Possible blasting through granite in residential neighborhoods.
  • Dawn to dusk construction, 6 days per week.
  • Possible destruction of existing homes, septic systems, wells, pools, sheds, and other structures to make way for the pipeline.
  • Extensive clear cutting and destruction of mature trees on the temporary easements and new permanent easements.

Community Input

Given that this is an interstate project subject to federal regulations, Columbia Gas is required to go through a certain number of reviews before final approval is given by the FERC. The project is currently in the scoping stage, which formally ends on May 16, 2012. There will be two meetings held by FERC representatives soliciting community input on environmental concerns:

  • May 8, 2012 7:00 PM EDT, Oregon Ridge Lodge, 13401 Beaver Dam Rd, Cockeysville 21030
  • May 9, 2012 7:00 PM EDT, Youth’s Benefit Elementary School Cafeteria, 1901 Fallston Rd., Fallston 21047

Those interested should review the plan available online under Docket No. PF12-6-000 at www.ferc.gov, and plan to attend one of the meetings.  It is vitally import that the FERC sees community responsiveness first hand.

Consequences of Inaction

The likely consequences of a lack of community responsiveness to this project are long term and severe. If the FERC approves the project, then Columbia Gas will be granted eminent domain. Once that happens the community will have no recourse, and they will be able to condemn properties deemed uncooperative. We all have invested too much in maintaining the pristine nature of our local environment to stand by while the federal government and an out of state company plows through our countryside at will. Please show your support by attending one of the meetings above and contacting your local, state, and federal representatives to voice your concerns.

Take Action

If anyone would like more information on local opposition to the Columbia Gas pipeline expansion, please contact Rich Scheper at rascheper@comcast.net, 410-561-1290.


Online Resources

To search the FERC document database for this docket, including official documents from Columbia Gas, FERC, and public input:

  1. Go to the Documents and Filings general search page on the FERC site.
  2. Change the Date Range to be from 1/1/2012 to the current date.
  3. Enter the Docket Number: PF12-6
  4. Submit your search request.

To submit comments or concerns:

  1. Go to the Documents and Filings eComment page.
  2. Follow the process to create an account and file a comment.
  3. Your comment will be included in the official record.