Maryland officials voted Wednesday to block Columbia Gas from using state land to build a natural gas pipeline that activists have been fighting for two years.
The unanimous vote by the Board of Public Works, which includes Gov. Larry Hogan (R), came after more than 60 members of the General Assembly wrote a letter urging the board to deny a request from Columbia Gas to construct a distribution line under the Western Maryland Rail Trail.
The board's decision presents a serious hurdle for the project, which had been approved by federal and state regulatory agencies.
Columbia Gas, a subsidiary of TransCanada, could challenge the board's decision. The company “will consider our options over the coming days to keep this project on track,” spokesman Scott Castleman wrote in an email.
“Today's vote denying our easement request is unfortunate,” Castleman wrote. “That being said, it does not change the need for, or the company's commitment to, our Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project.”
The 3.5-mile pipeline, known as the “Potomac Pipeline,” would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, bisecting the narrowest slice of Maryland's panhandle and running beneath the Potomac River and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Western Maryland.