TransCanada’s Proposed Potomac River Pipeline Protested
More than 100 people dominated a meeting at the Hancock Town Hall in Maryland on Thursday, February 9 making up more than 90 percent of the attendees. The event, hosted by TransCanada, was meant to be a dog and pony show about how the pipeline, which is intended to go under the C & O Canal and Potomac River, would cause no environmental damage and create jobs. Scores of people overwhelmed the meeting in silent protest.
The protest was a powerful show of community opposition (see the Facebook Live video below). People stood silently to show their opposition. Organizers instructed them to stand in a corner silently, but they still took up most of the room. The group than started to sing “Down to the River to Pray,” a Christian folk hymn written by an African American slave describing studying ‘the old fashioned way’ praying at the river, thereby highlighting the impact the pipeline will have on the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. After singing the group went back to silent protest. They were urged to contemplate the importance of rivers. They stood silently for more than 15 minutes with some praying. The protest lasted for about half of the TransCanada event. After the group left the town hall singing, only a handful of people remained.
The group heard from Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, Brent Walls, who told them “The proposed Eastern Panhandle Connector pipeline by TransCanada is a threat to the drinking water of over six million people. Whether it is the pipeline under the Potomac River or the connecting pipeline under Back Creek in West Virginia, pipelines fail. It’s just a matter of when and where.” He also warned that the geological make-up of the area made the pipeline even more dangerous because the karst rock is porous. As a result it was not an area where a pipeline should be placed.
West Virginia resident Russell Mokhiber, who is the editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, told the assembled people about Evan Vokes, a former TransCanada engineer who warns people “do not trust TransCanada.’ Vokes says that in the early 2000’s TransCanada started to cut back on its pipeline integrity programs and since then TransCanada has compiled a history of accidents, shutdowns, explosions and safety infractions.
The organizers pledged a sustained campaign against the project and are prepared to protest, blockade and legally challenge the pipeline every step of the way. “We’re going to defeat this pipeline and move on to a better world with solar energy,” Mokhiber told the media. “TransCanada held an open house and they wanted to hear from the community and they did, the vast majority of people who came here tonight from the area are opposed to it. We sent a clear message tonight that this is the wrong place and wrong time for this pipeline.”
The Eastern Panhandle Protectors report that land agents are going to farmers and telling them ‘if you don’t take our offer, we’re going to take your property with eminent domain.’
The 3.5 mile gas pipeline project will bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to the proposed Mountaineer Gas pipeline to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia which will go through Berkeley and Jefferson Counties as well. TransCanada plans to file its application for permits for the project with FERC next month. It hopes to have an answer by January next year and start construction in April 2018. The pipelines need approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, the national park Service and FERC.
Margaret Flowers Facebook Live video of the protest against TransCanada town hall meeting. (Click on the image to watch the video)