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Hundreds rally in DC against fracked gas exports

Published time: July 14, 2014 07:32
Protesters take part in a rally against U.S. fracked gas exports from the proposed Cove Point facility in Maryland, at a demonstration by several environmental organizations and activists, at the National Mall in Washington July 13, 2014.(Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Protesters take part in a rally against U.S. fracked gas exports from the proposed Cove Point facility in Maryland, at a demonstration by several environmental organizations and activists, at the National Mall in Washington July 13, 2014.(Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Hundreds marched through Washington DC and rallied at the Capitol on Sunday to protest plans for a new liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility in Maryland. Local residents fear possible environmental risks.

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The plan is to build a new terminal at the Cove Point, Maryland LNG facility, which could be used for exporting fuel to Asia. It’s proposed by a Virginia-based company, Dominion Resources, and could be endorsed by the White House in September.

The energy firm says the $3.8 billion project will also benefit the local economy by $40 million to $45 million a year, as well as helping to create thousands of jobs.

Environmentalists associate the new facility with serious risks not only to the local community, but to the whole of the East Coast, as it’s bound to lead to more fracking, a controversial process of extracting natural gas from underneath shale deposits, by pumping water and chemicals underground.

A total of 40 environmental groups organized the “Stop Fracked Gas Exports” rally, calling on the US Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulations Committee (FERC) not to go ahead with the controversial plan.

If the gas industry has its way, it will ship so much carbon overseas it will be like building 100 new coal plants,” the groups said in a joint statement. “Fracking wells and their associated explosion-prone infrastructure will proliferate. And over time it could double or even triple the current domestic price of gas.”

The rally gathered a lot of people who live near the LNG facility and don’t want to see it upgraded for exports.

It was very peaceful,” protester Rachel Heinhorst, who lives across the street from the planned new terminal, told WUSA 9 TV station. “And now it’s completely changing. We are going to be isolated by a giant wall. We are going to be in fear of explosions. We are going to be in fear of the air we are breathing. And that’s very fearful when you have a family.

Protesters take part in a rally against U.S. fracked gas exports from the proposed Cove Point facility in Maryland, at a demonstration by several environmental organizations and activists, at the National Mall in Washington July 13, 2014.(Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Environmentalists have appealed to government officials by asking them if they want this type of facility “only 50 miles from the White House.”

We’re gonna get a lot more fracking,” said Mike Tidwell, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Not just in the Appalachian, but even potentially the suburbs of DC.

Fracking technology has fueled the current oil and gas industry boom in the US, yet environmentalists have been skeptical of the practice, with various studies linking it to increased seismic activity and water contamination.