Activist Scales Crane at Dominion Cove Point LNG Construction Site

Early this morning, Maryland teacher Carling Sothoron climbed a 150-foot-tall crane at a construction site in Lusby, Maryland, that is part of the Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gas export terminal project. She hung a banner reading “Dominion get out. Don’t frack Maryland. No gas exports. Save Cove Point.” Sothoron is part of Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED), an umbrella group of mid-Atlantic activists fighting dirty energy projects.  She remains on the crane. Heather Doyle, another SEED activist who stayed at the bottom of the crane to provide assistance to Sothoron, has been detained by law enforcement.

”The Dominion Cove Point LNG project is negatively impacting the environment and community in Lusby, Maryland. We are already seeing that it will directly lead to massive expansion of natural gas drilling and infrastructure throughout the mid-Atlantic region, from the coast to the Appalachian Mountains. I’m taking direct action today because I’m not willing to let the natural gas industry destroy Maryland, my home,” said Sothoron.

Virginia-based Dominion Resources’s $3.8 billion Cove Point LNG export terminal would bring more than a billion cubic feet of natural gas a day from Appalachia, liquefy it, and ship it to Asia. The project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in September.

The site at which the crane is located, referred to in FERC documentation of the project as “Offsite Area A,” consists of 179.4 acres of land located on Maryland Route 2/4 about a little more than a mile west of the Cove Point terminal. Made up of 100 acres owned by Dominion and 79.4 acres leased from Calvert County, the site was undeveloped and covered with trees prior to the beginning of construction. Dominion plans to clear more than half of the site to provide space for equipment storage, warehouse space, and parking for 1,700 worker vehicles. Work began immediately after FERC approved the project and a large cleared area is already visible from the road.

Of the five natural gas export terminals approved by federal regulators to date, Dominion’s facility is located closest to the Marcellus Shale, a porous rock formation containing natural gas (methane) that underlies parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Extracting the gas requires the use of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” A recent analysis of peer-reviewed studies showed that most have found evidence that fracking causes harm to public health and environmental health.

“I’m doing this for my homies in the Marcellus shale and the people fighting the natural gas industry in places like Myersville,” Doyle said. The recent surge in natural gas production resulting from the widespread use of fracking has led to a glut in the market and a dramatic drop in prices in the last few years. Exporting natural gas would boost its price, stimulating increased drilling and production. In addition to export terminals, this will require hundreds of miles of pipeline and other infrastructure. Despite strong community and local government opposition, Dominion recently completed a compressor station in the small town of Myersville in central Maryland to move natural gas along its interstate pipeline.

Adding urgency to today’s action is the possibility that fracking will start soon in Maryland. Former governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive moratorium on fracking in 2011, suspending drilling in the state’s portion of the Marcellus shale pending a series of studies by an advisory commission. However, the commission recently wrapped up its work and the state has proposed regulations for fracking. The new governor, Larry Hogan, who took office January 21, has shown enthusiasm for idea of fracking in Maryland, calling it “an economic gold mine.”

Sothoron will be available for interviews by phone until she is removed from the crane.

Updates, including photographs, will be posted to http://seedcoalition.wordpress.com and the Twitter account @SEED_Action.

Update, 8:15 a.m. The crane boom is being lowered for police to extract Carling.

Update, 8:50 a.m. There appears to be no further police activity at the site. Carling has been taken to jail.

Update, 8:55 a.m. Quote from Heather Doyle included in post above.

Update, 2:30 p.m. Carling and Heather released from custody!

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11 thoughts on “Activist Scales Crane at Dominion Cove Point LNG Construction Site

  1. thank you Carling for doing this and taking this vital stand; almost 4 billion dollar project and what a waste….money could be spent on renewables….and the new governor needs to visit the toxic, shalefields in Pa…the profits in this Industry are plummeting, which they rightly deserve….

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Heartfelt thanks to Carling and Heather for making a stand for the health and safety of their fellow Marylanders! It is especially meaningful to see an educator setting a strong example of demonstrating one’s principles through action.

    I live on the Marcellus shale in mountain Maryland and it means the world to us living in harms’ way of fracking to see this issue “raised” so effectively at Cove Point. We are in this together, and we will fight together.

    Thanks for giving us hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does a lot of things. For one, it depends on what you mean by “converted.” Just because someone agrees with you doesn’t mean they are motivated, or ready, to take action on it. For another, there’s a difference between being aware of something and actively paying attention to it. People in Calvert County who are working on this have reported that many of the friends, co-workers, and other people they’ve spoken are vaguely aware of it, but are unclear on the extent, issues, and risks. And there are still plenty of people who would be directly affected who are unaware, period.

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      1. How does reading about someone getting arrested for sitting on a crane motivate others to become activists?

        Furthermore, what real affect does a group of concerned citizens have on policy? Do you think you live in some kind of democracy?

        Like

  3. Thanks to SEED and all the participants, especially Carling. Great effort. We need more people like you willing to take a stand for the health and safety of people and planet,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. On February 7th there is a REAL march for climate justice beginning at 12th & Broadway in downtown Oakland, CA. This is really a global effort, because climate destabilization is a global growing tragedy. A climatologist friend of mine said that I could say with accuracy that August 21, 2017 (full solar eclipse) marks the “point of no return” if nothing significant changes. My best wishes to all of my Earth First! friends in the district, Craig Louis Stehr

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  5. Forest Doyle, you asked, “How does reading about someone getting arrested for sitting on a crane motivate others to become activists?” In other words, what good is such an action when we all know Dominion Resources seems well-nigh unstoppable.

    I think the key word is “seems”. DR is not unstoppable. But just like a pot of water doesn’t instantly come to a boil, stopping DR requires that we turn up the heat and then that we have the patience we need while the pressure builds.

    Can this really happen? How you answer such a question probably determines what kinds of battles you’re willing to fight? So thank you, Heather and Carling. Your courage is contagious.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gyost,

    If you can provide a realistic way in which actions such as these lead to policy change, then I might be willing to say that your stance here is justified. What you are assuming is that popular opinion sways policy decisions. Do you read the news? Did you read your history books in school? It doesn’t look like the well-being of the masses is really a concern for the people pulling the strings.

    This is obviously a battle you think is worth fighting. What about some other energy related battles? Like the one where our country uses flying robots to drop bombs on little brown babies? Where is the outrage for that? Maybe you just care about the evil when it threatens to dirty your neighborhood. Too bad, because you can’t stop either atrocity…they are both part of the juggernaut that is the capitalist death-machine.

    Just like me, and just like the protesters, you benefit daily from the raping of the land and destruction of innocent people worldwide. There must be some psychological benefit to activism…like it makes a person feel less guilty for being complicit in the crime. The celebration of the arrests on social media and the showing of solidarity with the incarcerated betrays the actions for what they really are: a way to identify oneself with a cause and give life meaning. In the end, that is the real reason why people fight for anything.

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