Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

February 08, 2007

Md. report details flaws in LNG proposal

A 90-page state report pointing out flaws in a plan for a liquefied natural gas terminal in eastern Baltimore County was submitted yesterday to federal regulators who are considering whether to approve the project.

The report, which concludes the facility would be too close to other industries and homes, comes a day after the company that wants to build the terminal filed a second lawsuit against Baltimore County government, contending that a law banning liquefied natural gas facilities in coastal areas is unconstitutional.

In the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, AES Corp. asks that the law passed Monday by the County Council that added LNG to a list of prohibited uses in environmentally sensitive coastal areas be voided. The legal action was expected.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that federal law overrides a county zoning ordinance, passed in June, that prohibits liquefied natural gas terminals from being built within five miles of a home.

In a Feb. 1 letter to County Council Chairman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, Kent Morton, AES' Sparrows Point project manager, wrote that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the exclusive right to determine where liquefied natural gas facilities can be located.

And, he wrote, "because the AES proposal improves water quality, there is no justification ... to amend to the county's zoning regulations to stop this project based on the objectives of the state's Critical Areas law."

But Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., a former judge, said yesterday that the new law will stand up in court. "We believe the critical area zone prohibition of LNG trumps a FERC decision. ... There are few things that trump FERC, but we believe this is one of them."

The county has also filed notice that it will appeal the January federal court ruling.

AES filed its application with FERC last month to build a terminal and processing plant at the former Bethlehem Steel shipyard, and to construct an 87-mile pipeline to southern Pennsylvania where the processed gas could be distributed.

The 90-page advisory, prepared by state Department of Natural Resources, concludes that the proposed terminal does not meet FERC's condition as a "remote site."

The nearest houses are 1.2 miles from the site.

The report points to the nearby location of the second-largest blast furnace in the nation and to a proposed ethanol plant. It also outlines some of the environmental concerns about the project, including the dredging that would have to be done to accommodate the liquefied gas tankers and the potential impacts on wetlands during the construction of the pipeline.

Along with the report, Gov. Martin O'Malley wrote a letter to FERC urging the officials to "recognize the negative impacts of this proposal to the State of Maryland, our citizens, our environment and our economy, and deny this project."

Laura Barnhardt

Owings Mills

Man sought in robbery at shoe store

County police are searching for a man who robbed a shoe store near the Owings Mills area, officials said.

About 5 p.m. Saturday, a man entered a Payless Shoe Store in the 9600 block of Reisterstown Road and spent an hour shopping before approaching the sales counter, police said. The man went behind the counter, implied that he had a weapon and demanded money, police said.

The clerk opened the register and the man snatched an unknown amount of money before fleeing, police said.

The robber was described as a black male about 40 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with a medium build and short black-and-gray hair, police said. He wore blue jeans, a black sweat shirt and a black puffy coat that had a fur-trimmed hood, police said.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Baltimore County Police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP. Those calling Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

Nick Shields

Randallstown

Torch ignites fire in car dealership

A mechanic's torch sparked a one-alarm fire yesterday at a Randallstown car dealership, county fire officials said.

Officials received a call about 9 a.m. at the Liberty Ford car dealership in the 9300 block of Liberty Road, where authorities discovered that two cars on lifts were on fire. The fire was controlled in about 20 minutes, police said.

Maryland Department of the Environment and county hazardous-materials officials were called to the scene because the blaze started near an oil bin, authorities said. A torch ignited fumes from a gas tank that was being removed from one of the cars, fire officials said.

No one was injured, police said.

Nick Shields

Financial aid

College offers help with paperwork

The Community College of Baltimore County is hosting College Goal Sunday, a one-day event featuring free assistance to students in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- a requirement to qualify for scholarships, grants and loans.

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