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Zirkin Testifies Against Columbia Gas Pipeline Proposal

The senator protested the project at a public hearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at Oregon Ridge Lodge.

When Senator Bobby Zirkin moved to his new residence in Reisterstown nearly a year ago he did so because he loved the natural environment.

"It's a beautiful, pristine property," Zirkin said, an 11th District Democrat. "It's a beautiful treasure that's now under attack."

The senator was one of more than a dozen people to testify against a gas pipeline extension proposed by Columbia Gas Transmission at a public hearing before a panel of representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission  at on Tuesday evening. 

The 21.4 mile-extension to an existing pipeline would impact about 300 property owners.

Zirkin wouldn't be directly impacted by the construction, but the pipeline is proposed to cut through his neighbors' properties.

"All across this route is beautiful land with...endangered species and non-endangered species and...the environment, which deserves our attention," Zirkin said.

The senator said he learned about the project from Columbia lobbyists who called him during the legislative session and presented him with what he thought was a fairly benign "variation" of the project. After speaking with community association leaders, however, he was convinced otherwise.

"Not once has someone told me that this project is necessary," Zirkin said. "I understand that (Columbia) wants it, but I don't know why it's needed."

Zirkin said that the process has been rushed given that many residents are only recently finding out about the project, but the scoping period—the time in which the commission would gather input from the public and other interested stakeholders—ends on May 16.

Doug Sipes, a federal commission representative, clarified that though the paperwork sent out to residents marked May 16 as the end of scoping, comments will still be accepted after that date, until a permit is issued.

Zirkin also criticized Columbia for not doing their homework and realizing the Rosewood property that the gas line would cut through is environmentally contaminated. He added that the Beaver Dam area is also protected and owned by the Department of Natural Resources.

"I have hundreds of letters in my hand right now [from residents opposing the extension]," he said. "We'll be getting thousands more, I promise you."

Denise and Robert Kulinski, who live in Reisterstown, said they would be severely impacted if the project came to fruition. Constructing the pipeline would require Columbia to cut down about 75 trees on their property that are around 80 feet tall.

"I know that the impact is different for all the residents in this area but it is just very worrisome," Kulinski said. "It's a hardship and it's not going to happen quickly."

Columbia intends to with federal regulators in August.

Another public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Youth's Benefit Elementary School cafeteria in Fallston.

Skip727 May 11, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Senator Zirkin complains that the process has been rushed. Now he knows how the citizens of Maryland feel when the General Assembly is in session and citizens hear about bills that will affect them at the last second. Senator Zirkin, of all people, should know that the best way to accomplish something that only a small percentage of people want is to move quickly, without notice and without attracting attention to what you are doing. It is called POLITICS, Mr. Senator.
Havdegrace May 12, 2012 at 02:52 AM
I know you all just want to vent but i think all senator zirkin said was that development of a line should be done with respect for the environment. I'm a republican but have been impressed with zirkin. You all might want to relax a bit. He's a pretty good legislator from what I hear from my friends in Annapolis. Can't stand dems but I hear this ones pretty good.
The pikes May 14, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Pretty sure all Zirkin said was that the pipeline should be done respecting protected lands and the environment. I know all of you brain surgeons love to spout off but doesn't that make sense? Can't you have development and economic progress and also protect the environment? Just asking.
703 September 18, 2012 at 02:08 AM
As a "Neighbor" who will have the line cross my property, I urge you naysayers to look up a 30 inch gas pipe line explosion in Appomattox VA. Not from digging or terrorism but from corrosion. HP gas has no odor. These people had no idea an explosion was eminent until...boom! PS: We don't have natural gas for our homes.
al lo April 03, 2013 at 02:36 PM
im curious as to how many of the critics here ACTUALLY vote. its easy to complain huh? and there are plenty of alertnate energy sources that would enhance the enviroment. maybe people should consider those and help keep the planet around for generations to come. i dunno. just seems like everybody just wants to bitch. this guy is trying to do some good. who cares how big his house is or what kinda tv he has. he works for what he has. i happen to work at the state house for the senate and know these things i speak of first hand. think you all need to back off. and if you truly hava problem come protest or contact your rep.

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