Dominion Energy Cove Point LLC has decided not to pursue construction of a controversial natural gas compressor station in Bryans Road, the company announced Monday morning.
“Dominion Energy will not construct a natural gas transmission compressor station at its Charles County Marshall Hall site,” read a brief statement from Dominion spokesperson Karl R. Neddenien. “We will continue our existing operations at that site, which consist of a field office, a warehouse, and pipeline inspection and safety-related equipment.”
Neddenien’s brief statement said that the company is “actively evaluating alternatives for this component of our Eastern Market Access project” and is talking with “multiple stakeholders” including the project’s customers, Washington Gas Light Company and Mattawoman Energy.
“Discussions with customers are ongoing,” Neddenien said.
The surprise announcement comes just two weeks after Dominion wrote in a federal court filing that it was “reasonably hopeful” that its search for an alternative location would be concluded by mid-November.
A statement from the Mount Vernon Ladies Association said the organization “endorses Dominion Energy’s decision not to construct a natural gas compressor station at the Charles County Marshall Hall site.”
“The proposed development posed a threat to the inspiring and historic view from George Washington’s beloved home — a national treasure that we must all work together to protect for future generations,” the statement said.
“We appreciate the cooperative spirit and support Dominion provided for our preservation efforts, and our partners and stakeholders as well as the tens of thousands of people who have stepped forward to share their concerns and spread awareness about this important cause,” the statement concluded.
Kelly Canavan, president of the Accokeek Mattawoman Piscataway Creeks Communities Council, which has sought to join the federal lawsuit as a co-defendant along with nine local residents, said that the council is celebrating the news.
“While the work of a great many people secured us this astonishing victory, we are particularly grateful to our legal team, and to the Charles County Board of Appeals for doing what so few government entities are willing to do — taking a tough position under immense pressure because they believed it was right,” Canavan said in a prepared statement.
“Today we are able to breathe a tremendous, fracked gas-free sigh of relief,” Canavan said. “We fully intend that this win will be a trend, not an aberration. The health of one community is no more important than the health of another.”
Canavan added that the AMP Creeks Council “will continue to fight this project wherever it rears its ugly head.”
“Dominion’s carpetbagging profiteering has no place here,” she said.
The county attorney’s office had not responded to a request for comment as of press time.
In May, Dominion filed a federal lawsuit against the Charles County Government, the Board of County Commissioners and the county board of appeals following a decision of the appeals board to deny Dominion a special zoning exception that would allow it to construct the compressor station on a 50-acre parcel of land adjacent to Barrys Hill Road, which Dominion owns.
Dominion had sought to install a pair of natural-gas-fueled compressors that would pump natural gas along the 88-mile-long Cove Point Pipeline that runs through Charles and Prince George’s Counties to the Cove Point terminal in Calvert County.
In public hearings before the board of appeals and the Maryland Department of the Environment, residents of Bryans Road and the nearby Moyaone Reserve have testified repeatedly that they believe Dominion has not satisfactorily addressed concerns over health and safety risks posed by exhaust emissions or the risk of a natural gas fire or explosion at the rural site.
The board of appeals echoed those concerns in its decision to deny Dominion’s request for a special exception to build the compressor station at the site.
Residents have also been concerned about what they say is inadequate water pressure available to firefighters to combat a natural gas fire or explosion and the dangers posed by frequent flooding on Barrys Hill Road near the site, which could hamper an emergency response.
In June, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association launched a campaign to oppose the construction of the compressor station, claiming that its towers and the exhaust plumes emitted by them would mar the view across the Potomac River from the Mount Vernon mansion.
Although Dominion has repeatedly disputed that claim, the energy company entered into discussions with MVLA that led to Dominion announcing in August that it had agreed to investigate alternative locations for the compressor facility.
The decision brings to an end a process that has been ongoing since at least late 2016. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held a public meeting in March 2017 to seek public input, and the board of appeals began considering the special exception application four months later.
Dominion has said that any alternative location would need to be approved by regulatory agencies including FERC.