Maryland Governor Reveals “I Haven’t Been Listening”
Above Photo: From wearecovepoint.org
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For 18 weeks in a row now, We Are Cove Point has been holding rallies at the governor’s mansion in Annapolis to demand Maryland Governor Larry Hogan order a safety study for the fracked gas export terminal Dominion is building in the Cove Point neighborhood of Lusby in Southern Maryland.
Each Monday at noon, we hold signs, pass out flyers and talk to passersby about the need for the governor to order this study, called a quantitative risk assessment. The governor is the only person who can order this study. This has been a continuation of a bigger campaign that’s stretched back into the administration of former Governor Martin O’Malley.
Every once in a while, we catch Governor Hogan walking outside of his mansion. Yesterday was one of those days, and one member of We Are Cove Point had a very illuminating dialogue with him.
We were walking around the state house during an event, handing out flyers and talking with people, when someone from We Are Cove Point spotted Governor Hogan and a few of his guards moving between the state house and the governor’s mansion. This is the exact dialogue that followed:
We Are Cove Point: “Governor Hogan, we’ve been asking you for a safety study for Cove Point. It’s high time you order one!”
Governor Hogan: no response
We Are Cove Point: “What are your thoughts on that?”
Governor Hogan: “I haven’t been listening.”
We Are Cove Point (startled and amazed at what the governor just said): “You need to be listening. The people have been talking to you about this.”
Governor Hogan’s bodyguard: “You need to be going away.”
At that, the governor, his bodyguards, and a few other VIP-looking people (one of whom already had our flyer in his hand) went into the mansion grounds and shut the gate quickly behind them.
Word quickly spread among the We Are Cove Point people about what just happened. We were amazed that the governor just told us so callously that he hasn’t been listening.
People have been calling Governor Hogan relentlessly since early May, following a major call-in day where so many people called him that his phone lines were jammed. We’ve submitted letter after letter, including one that was cosigned by more than 80 organizations from across the United States. We’ve had numerous meetings with his staff. Each time, they assure us that they pass on every phone call and every letter they receive from the hundreds of people who have reached out.
We know Governor Hogan is aware of our presence each week. We’ve spoken to multiple members of his family, talk with his guards regularly, and had his staff confirm that he knows it when we’re there. Honestly, we’ve been the only group outside his mansion each week with banners, signs, musicians, speakers, photographers, and everything else; we’re kinda hard to miss.
Good politicians make people feel heard, even when they don’t want to do what’s being requested of them. Governor Hogan is obviously not a good politician. For him to say, “I haven’t been listening,” when so many people have been reaching out to him about this safety study is simply not an acceptable response for an elected official to have.
The last quantitative risk assessment was performed in 2006 — when Dominion’s facility at Cove Point was a mostly dormant import terminal, before it had $3.8 billion and three years of work put into it to make it much larger and more dangerous. Even then, that safety study told us that more than 1,000 people living closest to the terminal lived with the constant risk of being consumed in a flash fire. It told us that facility, as drastically smaller as it was then, was right up against the line of being officially considered an intolerable threat to the surrounding community. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed Dominion to build this export terminal without performing a new safety study. So, we have no idea what level of danger the tens of thousands of people in the area would be living with once this facility starts up.
It’s not acceptable for Governor Hogan to put so many of his constituents’ lives in jeopardy — and it’s not acceptable for him to be so flippantly dismissive of the thousands of messages he’s received calling on him to order this safety study.
We Are Cove Point will continue to push him to order a quantitative risk assessment. We ask you to continue to call Governor Hogan at (410) 974-3901, sign our petition and join us on Mondays at noon in front of the governor’s mansion.
The people living around this export terminal deserve to know the danger they are in. People deserve to be able to make informed decisions for the safety and well-being of them and their families. Governor Hogan needs to start listening.