Sparrows Point Testimony

Statement of


Norris McDonald



 African American Environmentalist Association


On The



Mid-Atlantic Express, L.L.C.


Proposal For A


Liquefied Natural Gas Import Terminal


Natural Gas Pipeline Facility


Submitted To The


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission


Cooperating Agencies:

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency




Issued: April 2008


Docket Nos. CPO7-62-000, CPO7-63-000, CPO7-64-000, CPO7-65-000

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) No. CENAB-OP-RMN (2007-01644-M16)


Patapsco High School Auditorium


Baltimore, Maryland


Monday, June 9, 2008





My name is Norris McDonald and I am the founder and president of the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA).  This written statement is being submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to provide our views on environmental issues related to the Sparrows Point Project (SPP), a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility and gas pipeline. The African American Environmentalist Association supports LNG terminals because of the need for additional natural gas for electricity generation.  However, we will withhold a position on this project until the relevant issues are included in a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) and community concerns have been properly addressed.


AAEA was founded in 1985 and is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the environment, promoting the efficient use of natural resources, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement. AAEA’s national headquarters is in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. We have chapters nationwide and members worldwide.


The Sparrows Point Project will consist of an onshore LNG import and storage terminal and an 87-mile natural gas pipeline.  Our comments today will address Turner Station.


Environmental Justice


The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) being used for this public meeting is woefully inadequate in addressing the environmental justice issues related to the LNG proposal.  FERC failed to, “…assess potential impacts on the…human environment that would result from the implementation of the proposed actions.”  The DEIS identified potential environmental justice impacts but did not assess the impacts.  The DEIS states that, “AES addressed these concerns through the identification of environmental justice areas in the vicinity of the proposed Project.”  There is nothing in the DEIS showing that AES assessed environment justice issues.  The outreach by AES via open house meetings, project updates, tours and learning opportunities does not seem to have led to an adequate assessment. We are deeply concerned that the environmental justice issues were not assessed in the DEIS and they should be thoroughly assessed and included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). 


There are numerous environmental justice issues that need to be assessed:


1)     An additional source of air pollution in the local area.

2)     An additional source of water pollution in the local area.

3)     Relocation and/or compensation for Turner Station residents.

4)     Minority business opportunities related to the proposed project.

5)     Arrangements to assist with any increases in insurance premiums.

6)     Arrangements for community amenities

7)     Examining partnership agreements with area businesses to expand community mitigation and/or relocation.


Again, simply identifying the community and their status as a minority neighborhood and their income status is not sufficient to assess the potential impacts.  Moreover, potential impacts of the SPP should be considered within the context of the additional pollution the projects represents.  To do this, the other pollution sources in the vicinity need to be identified and then a cumulative assessment needs to be conducted.  The basic point being that the SPP alone might not represent a significant pollution threat, but its addition to other sites currently impacting this community might then represent a threat.  Typically in environmental justice, it is not just one facility that poses a threat, but a number of facilities in combination that represent the threat.  This is our assessment and is the basis for requesting mitigation and/or relocation assistance.


Our assessment would appear to counter the DEIS contention that:


“The proposed development at the terminal site is compatible and consistent with existing use and long-range plans identified for the area…Similarly, construction and operation of the terminal facility would have no negative impacts on the community redevelopment and revitalization concepts included in the Turner Station Community Conservation Plan.”


The Turner Station Community Conservation Plan did not include a comprehensive environmental justice assessment.  Neither did the Dundalk, A Second Century Vision document.  Although the DEIS states, “increased employment associated with the construction and operation of the terminal would benefit the communities economically,” this in no way ameliorates the cumulative impacts of pollution affecting the residents of Turner Station.


            AES can litigate its way to approval of this project   There are no laws that can stop the project.  AES recently won a court fight that will help in getting approval for the project.


On May 19th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, and held that a Baltimore County Council zoning amendment prohibiting the siting of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in previously designated Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas in Baltimore County was preempted by the Natural Gas Act (NGA).  In 2005, Congress amended the Natural Gas Act (NGA) to clarify the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over LNG terminal siting.  Section 311(a)(1) of the Energy Policy Act 2005 (EPAct 2005) granted FERC the “exclusive authority” t
o approve or deny an application for the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of an LNG terminal.  Section 311(d), however, provides that nothing in the NGA affects “the rights of States” under the CZMA, the Clean Air Act, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. (Van Ness Feldman Law Firm)


We appeal to their sense of corporate responsibility to assist a community in need.  We hope FERC will expand the scope of the environmental justice assessment and consider recommending the adoption of the mitigation measures that we have recommended.


            The fate of the pipeline proposal is a different matter from the facility.  There are numerous state obstacles that can negatively affect the approval of the pipeline. Although, according to the DEIS, “the proposed pipeline would not result in disproportionately adverse human impacts or environmental effects on minority or low-income communities,” disrespecting and disregarding the appeals of the residents of Turner Station could lead residents and others to pursue obstruction by working to block the pipeline.  The LNG facility will be crippled if the pipeline is not constructed.


Turner’s Station has a perfect storm of pollution sources surrounding it.  There is a landfill to the north, power plant to the south, steel plant (and proposed LNG facility) to the east, and high power lines and chromium pollution to the west.  We believe that humans should not live in such a polluted industrial zone.  However, some residents are loyal to that geographical location. 


We are also very concerned that certain representations were made by AES that have been rescinded by the company.  Our contacts with community representatives indicate that the company has completely backed out of offers of assistance to Turner Station.  We hope that AES, possibly in partnership with other area companies, will provide a written agreement to provide the items we recommend below.


             AAEA made the recommendation below at the 2006 public meeting and we stand by those recommendations today:


  1. AES should purchase the homes or pay homeowners and businesses near the exclusion zone a reasonable fee.  Another alternative would be building a relocation community.
  2. AES should pay for any increase in homeowners and business owners’ insurance premiums near the facility for those choosing the fee.
  3. AES should provide 51 percent minority ownership in the Mid-Atlantic Express, LLC, the proposed owner of the 87-mile pipeline.  Mid-Atlantic Express, LLC is a regulated project company formed by The AES Corporation to own and operate the Mid-Atlantic Express Pipeline. 
  4. If the community is not relocated, then AES should build a state-of-the-art recreation and computer facility similar to the Fed Ex Field facility in Landover, Maryland. 
  5. AES should provide college scholarships to students.

We strongly suggest that such a path is good business and could go far in preventing delays, uncertainty and litigation for this project.  AES could show environmental justice leadership by partnering with the other local facilities to negotiate an appropriate mitigation settlement to this a vulnerable community.