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Maryland Regulator Rejects TransCanada Gas Link from Pennsylvania to West Virginia

A regulatory body in Maryland has unanimously rejected Calgary-based TransCanada Corporation’s bid to build a natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to West Virginia across the western part of the state.

In a 3-0 vote, the Board of Public Works rejected an easement for a 4.8-kilometre line under the Potomac River near Hanover, MD that would connect Pennsylvania’s Columbia Gas network with West Virginia’s Mountaineer Gas distribution system.

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Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat, cited testimony that the pipeline could bring Maryland environmental problems without economic benefits,” the Associated Press reports. “The board also includes Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, a Democrat.

The Board had received a letter from more than 60 elected officials from Maryland, the first U.S. state with actual natural gas reserves ever to have outlawed hydraulic fracturing. “Given that Maryland has banned fracking, it defies our state’s existing energy policy to bring the same public health risks to our residents by way of a pipeline,” the letter stated. “Moreover, enabling fossil fuel production runs counter to our state’s goals of increasing renewable energy production.”

Hogan said the regulatory vote would have been unanimous, with or without the legislators’ intervention.

Chesapeake Climate Action Network attorney Anne Havemann said she hoped the vote would kill the pipeline plan outright. “We’ll see if [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] gets involved or the courts get involved, but for now it’s a welcome delay and we hope a permanent end to this pipeline,” she told AP.