Del. Shane Robinson introduces emergency legislation relevant to the Potomac Pipeline

On Friday, March 16th, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced it awarded the Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways permit to the Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project otherwise known as the Potomac Pipeline. This was despite the numerous requests from Sierra Club, the No Potomac Pipeline Coalition, and the public, to conduct a full 401 water quality review.

In response to this development, Delegate Shane Robinson introduced emergency legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to require MDE to use their authority to complete a full review of the project under section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

This legislation, House Bill 1826, does the following;

  1. Upon receipt of an application pursuant to section 401 of the Clean Water Act for water quality certification of any proposed activity that involves construction or drilling into karst geology, MDE shall, as soon as practicable:

    1. Conduct an independent review, separate from any investigation or authorization by other state or federal agencies, of whether the application meets applicable state water quality standards. Such review shall consider:

      1. Best available scientific evidence of the proposed activity’s potential water quality impacts to State water resources, and

      2. Public input, including at least one public hearing, on MDE’s own assessment, based on the above evidence, of whether proposed activity will comply with applicable state water quality standards.

    2. Based on the above review, MDE will grant, conditionally grant, or deny the water quality certification.

  2. MDE shall promptly notify the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and any other federal licensing or permitting agency for the proposed activity that MDE does not intend to waive its review of the application. After MDE has completed the above review, MDE will convey to the same federal agencies its findings and its decision to grant, conditionally grant, or deny the water quality certification.

  3. The legislation would apply immediately, including all pending and applications, including the Joint Federal/State application for the Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project (Potomac Pipeline).

  4. For pending applications, including the application for the Potomac Pipeline, MDE shall deny the application without prejudice, so that the complete process above can be conducted.

 The bill has been assigned to the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.

Click Here to review the permit materials.