The 18th of August was a regional day of protest against Dominion’s planned Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipeline. Friends of Nelson County called for solidarity actions in communities along the route or otherwise effected by Dominion’s fracked gas projects. One of these projects is the conversion of the old Cove Point LNG(liquified natural gas) import terminal to a greatly enlarged export terminal.Thus, one of the protests was held by We Are Cove Point on the beach by Cove Point lighthouse, with the old gas dock in the backdrop behind local homeowners and their allies from around the area.
The strong turnout at this event shows that attempts at indimidation of activists by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Department to intimidate residents into silence have failed. Some deputies now have double-sided badges labelling them as Dominion security on one side and sheriff’s deputies on the other. We Are Cove Point put the sheriff’s department on notice that this protest would be held. The sheriff’s department did a lot of talking about “how can we help” but was asked by organizers to stay away. This should not surprise them given that the last time We Are Cove Point invited activists to Cove Point Beach, one of those dual-badged deputies ambushed a car containing activists who had gotten lost and used the stop for an unlawful search. From that illegal search came an illegal arrest and trumped-up charges. Thus the Calvert County Sheriff’s Department was not welcome at Hands Across Our Land. Organzers reported seeing police cruisers in the area but cops stayed off the beach and so far there have been no reports of trouble this time around.
A few months ago, some Dominion investors complained that they had to regard ever getting LNG export out of Cove Point online as “speculative,” due to the ongoing drumbeat of protests. As of now, the “Dominion endangers us-shut it down” signs can be seen in yards all along Cove Point Road and all over the town. There is nothing Dominion or the sheriff’s deputies whose salaries they pay can do about it. Obviously threats and harassment have not been able to take down the signs Dominion’s investor can’t visit the plant or the area without seeing everywhere, nor stop the protests.
There is still a lot that can go wrong for Dominion. Delays from bad weather could combine with protest-inflicted delays to put the opening of the plant into the time when Putin’s gas pipeline to Asia causes gas prices there to collapse. Some official in Calvert County, Annapolis, or Washington DC could choose to pull some crucial permit. This could even happen after Dominion has spent all of the huge amounts of money to finish construction. The gas pipelines necessary to get gas to Cove Point could be stopped, leaving Dominoin high and dry with only a minimal ability to get gas to the plant. This is without even considering the danger of a catastrophic failure of the facility so feared by Cove Point residents. An accident at Cove Point could be worse than the recent warehouse explosion in China, and the only way out of Cove Point is right past the gas plant.
The Cove Point beach on the 18th of August
Dominion’s LNG tanker dock is the structure visible in the water behind the protest
Major construction is underway as Dominion converts the old Cove Point gas terminal from import to export and greatly enlarges it.