Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Maryland court rules in favor of proposal to export natural gas

Pipes carrying liquefied natural gas circulate around the terminal into holding tanks.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Pipes carrying liquefied natural gas circulate around the Cove Point terminal into holding tanks.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled in favor of a plan by Dominion Resources to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from an existing import terminal at Cove Point in Lusby, Maryland. It is the closest such facility to the Marcellus Shale.

In a federal lawsuit, the Sierra Club argued that an agreement between the terminal’s original owner and environmentalists precluded export at the site, but the court disagreed.

From the Washington Post:

In an opinion released Friday, the Court of Special Appeals weighed the meaning of ten crucial words in the most recent version of the agreement, which Dominion, Sierra and another group signed in 2005. The agreement permits “receipt by tanker and the receipt or delivery by pipeline” of natural gas at the site.

The opinion by Judge Michele Hotten even includes the full dictionary entry for the word “by” as part of the court’s efforts to parse the phrase.

According to Sierra, this clause means that Dominion can receive shipments of gas by sea and over land, via pipeline, at the site, and that the company can make deliveries over land to domestic buyers. However, the group argues, Dominion is not permitted to make deliveries by sea.

The high production of natural gas in Pennsylvania has produced a glut which caused prices to drop and drilling to slow down in some of the state’s gas fields. The industry hopes exporting Marcellus LNG could stabilize the market.

Cove Point still needs to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before it can come online.

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