MYERSVILLE — An open house Tuesday night on Dominion Transmission’s expansion plans — including the addition of a second compressor at its Myersville station — drew a small but vocal group of protesters to Town Hall.
The event was the fourth and final in a series of open houses throughout the region on Dominion’s Leidy South Project, which includes expanded compression along its interstate natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. If approved, the project would add a second, 15,900-horsepower compressor at the Myersville compressor station, which went into service late last fall.
When a large energy company came to Myersville, MD, in 2011 requesting permission to build a compressor station for its natural gas delivery, Ann Nau and her neighbors thought they’d win the fight to keep it out.
Dominion Transmission, a subsidiary of Virginia-based Dominion Resources, hoped to build the station less than one mile from the Frederick County, MD, town’s only elementary school. Nau, who had a child at the school, worried about air emissions from the 16,000-horsepower station. She worried about overwhelming the town’s small fire department, about traffic on its small-town roads, noise and fumes.
About 20 Forks Township residents and activists gathered outside the Columbia Gas compressor station Saturday afternoon in the township’s northern tier to protest a proposed expansion that will more than quadruple the facility’s horsepower.
Lining the road outside the Klein Road facility that moves natural gas to market, protesters held signs declaring “How Long Can You Hold Your Breath” and “Folks Who Favor Fracking Must be Sent Packing.” Some protesters sported gas masks and an armed security guard stood near a car parked in the property’s driveway before moving back behind locked gates.
Pacing the road with a megaphone in hand, Sam Koplinka-Loehr with the Clean Air Council led the group in chants that could be heard echoing over the predominantly rural landscape.
In talking about ‘fracking’, oftentimes the industry tries to limit the discussion to the actual process of injecting liquid at high pressure into rock formations to extract gas. However, there is a broad network of infrastructure that is required to support that process, including storage facilities, compressor stations, metering stations, processing facilities, gathering lines, and intrastate and interstate pipelines. And regulatory oversight of those components falls to various local and federal agencies, if it is regulated at all. Very generally speaking, activities related to drilling fall under state authority while the federal government has oversight of interstate pipelines and associated facilities. And what that means for towns like Myersville is that while there is currently no fracking in Maryland, the natural gas boom has already negatively affected our community.