Maryland MAPP Would Harm Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore
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by Kristin Ricigliano |
The Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) is a proposed 150-mile, high-voltage transmission line that would start at Dominion Virginia Powers coal-powered Possum Point substation in Virginia, traverse the Potomac River into the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant, cross the Chesapeake Bay, and, finally, go through Marylands Eastern Shore to Delaware affecting Charles, Prince Georges, Calvert, Dorchester, and Wicomico counties.
The Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) is a proposed 150-mile, high-voltage transmission line that would start at Dominion Virginia Power’s coal-powered Possum Point substation in Virginia, traverse the Potomac River into the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant, cross the Chesapeake Bay, and, finally, go through Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Delaware— affecting Charles, Prince George’s, Calvert, Dorchester, and Wicomico counties.
MAPP proponents claim that the fact that a major portion of the line would be built on existing rights of way would mean it would have little environmental impact. This is false. If MAPP were approved, the existing rights of way would have to be expanded significantly. MAPP would be a large, extremely high-voltage infrastructure that would require cutting down an additional 200-foot-wide swath of land wherever it would be built.
In addition, the proposed MAPP corridor would bisect an area of the Eastern Shore known for its pristine environmental resources, including:
· lands with the highest “preserved-to- developed” ratios in the state
· forests with extremely high carbon- sequestration rates
· habitat with the highest concentration of threatened-endangered species on the Eastern Shore
· aquatic habitats critical to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge ecosystem
· some of the most productive agricultural soil in Maryland, and
· the largest tracts of commercial forestlands in the state.
The MAPP corridor would also affect some of Maryland’s greatest cultural resources, including:
· the Captain John Smith Water Trail
· the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, and,
· the proposed site for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway (nominated for All-American Road/National Scenic Byways designation).
Imagine all of these treasures jeopardized environmentally and aesthetically by large transmission towers.
MAPP would create a way to pump up the amount of electricity exported from dirty coal power plants in the Ohio Valley and in Appalachia to the higher priced markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. MAPP would generate enormous profits for the utility companies with zero risks, since the cost of constructing MAPP would fall solely on ratepayers.
The true price of MAPP and of dirty energy sources is hidden by the gluttonous utility companies’ promises of cheap electricity, but the truth is not hard to find. MAPP would not only endanger some of Maryland’s greatest ecosystems, as noted above, but it would also add highly visible industrial structures to the rural landscapes of the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland, lowering property values of nearby Maryland farms and homes. And, from a global perspective, MAPP would increase greenhouse gas emissions, mountaintop removal, sea level rise, and dependence on fossil fuels.
The Dorchester County Commissioners unanimously opposed MAPP. Currently, the MAPP project has been put on hold. Originally, the line was to go north through Delaware and into New Jersey, but a few months ago PJM, the grid operator, stopped actively pursuing permission to construct the section of the MAPP project running from Indian Head, DE to Salem, NJ. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources asked the Maryland Public Service Commission hearing examiner to suspend review of the MAPP plan until PJM made clear why it put this portion of the line on hold, and the examiner did so. The examiner made a step in the right direction, but it is likely that the project will soon resurface.
If the Maryland Public Service Commission approves MAPP, our state would be investing in yesterday’s energy solutions for tomorrow’s energy demands at a very high cost to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. n
Kristin Ricigliano, the Cool Cities intern with the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, worked on energy issues this summer.
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