Group asks court to block AES' natural gas terminal

March 20, 2010|By By Mary Gail Hare | The Baltimore Sun

Neighbors of a terminal for liquefied natural gas proposed for Sparrows Point are asking a federal court to block the $400 million project.

In a lawsuit filed electronically Friday, the community group that calls itself the LNG Opposition Team is asking the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to order federal regulators to rescind a permit issued a year ago to AES Sparrows Point LNG.

Joining in the lawsuit is the Bradford Glen Homeowners Association of Downington, Pa., which lies at the other end of an 88-mile pipeline proposed for the project.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the plan submitted by AES to build the terminal on the site of the former Sparrows Point shipyard in January 2009. The commission's approval came with 169 contingencies, most of them related to environmental and safety issues.

Nearly a dozen government, business and community groups, including the state of Maryland and Baltimore County, filed appeals of the FERC decision. The five-member panel declined to hear any of the appeals.

"They denied our appeal, and now we are asking for a rehearing with the emphasis on rescinding AES' permit," said Russell Donnelly, spokesman for the LNG Opposition Team.

AES has yet to fulfill many of the contingencies. The company has been denied a water-quality permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld MDE's denial of the permit in December.

That same court denied AES' petition for a rehearing on the water-quality issue last month.

"There is an entire laundry list of permits that AES does not have," said Washington attorney Bart S. Fisher. "It cannot move forward without them. At some point, this company has to do its homework."

Representatives of AES, headquartered in Arlington, Va., could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Fisher said he will argue that the project is unnecessary, given declining demand for natural gas and the underuse of existing terminals, and that it would threaten public safety.

He said he would also ask for a review of whether the project violates several environmental laws, including the Clean Water and the National Environmental Policy acts.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.