Thursday, January 7, 2010

Court rules against Baltimore LNG proposal

BALTIMORE, Md. - A federal appeals court has upheld Maryland's decision to deny a water quality certification for a liquefied natural gas terminal at Baltimore's Sparrows Point.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Arlington-based AES Corp.'s petition for review in late December. AES had argued Maryland failed to decide on its application within a year of its proposal and the state's certification denial was "arbitrary and capricious" because it considered water flow a form of pollution under the Clean Water Act.
But the court panel ruled that Maryland regulators decided within one year of the Army Corps of Engineers' provision of necessary information - not when AES had submitted its application.
Further, the opinion holds that Maryland properly considered how water flow would be affected by the additional dredging needed for LNG tankers. The court agreed with the state that the dredging would induce "pollutants" by creating deep channels where the dissolved oxygen levels would not meet water standards.
"Maryland examined the relevant data pertaining to the effect on water quality in the areas of the proposed deep channel dredging and articulated a satisfactory explanation for its denial on that basis," the panel wrote.
The ruling could have an effect on other proposed LNG facilities, especially those in Oregon where the state is still reviewing required permits and similar environmental concerns have been raised.

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