Photo: About 200 people participated in Saturday’s walk/ Photo by Anne Meador
By John Zangas and Anne Meador
Lusby, Maryland has never seen a civic action this big, according to local residents. Almost two hundred citizens and supporters mobilized on Saturday for a march to stop energy corporation Dominion Resources from converting Cove Point LNG into a liquefaction facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood. They walked six miles from Solomons Island to Cove Point Park to bring attention to health and safety concerns posed by the Dominion export terminal, which they say appropriated the Cove Point name from their community.
We Are Cove Point, Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, Beyond Extreme Energy, Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Patuxent Friends Quaker Meeting organized the “Walk for Calvert County to be Dominion Free.” The walk was to help residents support each other in the fight against the plant, and to tell Dominion and the local government it is not safe to proceed with a project of this scope so close to 8,045 Lusby residents.
Dominion has proceeded with plans to build the LNG plant and export terminal near homes, schools, parks and daycare centers in spite of strong opposition. They are afraid of what may happen if there is an accident when the natural gas facility begins operation.
Tracey Eno, who lives less than two miles from Dominion Cove Point, said she was thrilled to see so many people participating. “I’ve seen people I don’t even know, and that’s a good sign,” she said. “The town of Lusby has never seen this before.”
The walk almost didn’t come off as planned when the bus company which had agreed to shuttle walkers cancelled its service agreement with organizers just hours before the event. Tracey Eno believes the company, which also has transport agreements with Dominion, was pressured not to provide the agreed upon service to them. Had Eno not been able to make last-minute alternative arrangements, they would not have been able to finish at Cove Point Park.
Eno was pleased with the support they received from motorists along the way. “Everybody driving by is supporting us, the power of the people. This is democracy!”
Kathy Strickler, who is retired and lives on a boat with her husband on the Chesapeake Bay, was walking for the environment. “I can’t think of what all these tankers coming in are going to do to the Bay’s serenity and safety,” she said.
Kevin Zeese, a lawyer and activist from Baltimore, was surprised by the participation. “This is certainly an unusual experience for Lusby and Calvert County,” he said. “It’s not really a protest center and to have this number of people come out and walk through the neighborhoods will be talked about and will grow the movement.”
Walkers followed the route taken by specially designed vehicles with oversize loads from the pier where barges deliver large equipment to the main terminal. On Saturday afternoon, Dominion issued the latest traffic advisory notifying that roads would be closed the following night for one of these oversized hauls.
Walkers stopped at the halfway point for refreshments at Patuxent Friends Quaker Meeting House, then continued through the town of Lusby to Cove Point Park. Once they arrived at Cove Point Park, participants were treated to a picnic meal prepared by cooks from “Seeds For Peace,” a mobile kitchen, and entertained with live folk music.
Virginia, who grew up in Calvert County, strolled with her 2-year-old son. She is proud of her community. “Many of us are here because of the environment and how much beauty there is surrounding us,” she said.
She was also concerned about her son’s future. “I feel like we’ve been lied to,” she said. “Many of the government officials haven’t told the truth about what is going on. We are worried about the future of our county, and we are worried about the lives that our children are going to be leading.”