OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ)– A controversial pipeline gets a federal okay. It’s for a new natural gas pipeline to run underground from Baltimore County to Harford County.

Alex DeMetrick reports opponents still hope to block it.

YouTube captured a natural gas pipeline explosion in West Virginia last December–near the same time the pipeline’s owner was fighting a Maryland bill to impose state safety regulations.

“Tremendous audacity for them to come before the General Assembly of Maryland and fight to keep us from safety regulations when one of theirs just blew up in West Virginia,” said State Senator Robert Zirkin.

Zirkin didn’t win that fight and now another’s been lost: a proposal by Columbia Gas Transmission of Texas to build a second gas pipeline next to one that already exists. The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, FERC for short, has approved the line.

“The oil and gas industry has greased all the wheels in Washington,” Zirkin said.

Despite hearings and opposition by Marylanders, FERC will allow a second pipeline to run from Owings Mills to Fallston, a link in an interstate system an industry spokesman defended at those hearings.

“We need to look at our system, look for opportunities to increase reliability for our customers,” said Mike Banas.

And in a statement on Columbia Gas Transmission’s website, “This project is a critical component of Columbia’s modernization. We appreciate all of the input from the residents along the route and we believe our community engagement process is a major reason why FERC granted project approval.”

While the feds are saying yes, opponents will push state agencies to deny building permits for the pipeline.

“The Army Corps of Engineers still has its say; DNR and MDE still have their say on this,” Zirkin said.

The pipeline’s owner says a second line is needed to provide maintenance on the first pipeline. Opponents say it’s a ploy to move all the natural gas fracking has created.

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