|The state Department of the Environment recently denied a Houston-based company’s application to permit crude oil shipments through its port of Baltimore terminal in Fairfield, citing a potential safety threat to nearby residents.
According to a June 3 Baltimore Sun article, the Department of the Environment said it will require more information from Targa Resources, the Houston-based company that handles, transports and stores oil, natural gas and petroleum products, before it can approve the crude oil permit.
The MDE “is not moving forward with any further review of the crude oil related application submitted in February until the department receives additional information from the company,” the agency explained in a summary of its decision.
The agency also plans to hold public meetings and hearings to review the Targa facility’s plans to handle crude oil shipments.
If MDE had approved Targa’s permit application, the company would have become the second crude oil terminal in the Fairfield area. Stanford, CN-based company Axeon Specialty Products ships tens of millions of gallons of crude oil through its nearby terminal in the port of Baltimore, just north of Interstate 895.
Throughout the last few years, shipments of domestic crude oil entering Maryland have boomed, along with rapid increases in production throughout the Bakken shale oil fields of North Dakota. On a wider scale, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry is responsible for 9.8 million jobs and makes up 8% of the national economy.
While Bakken shale oil is booming, many residents express concern about transporting this particularly volatile oil through the state. Shipments of Bakken crude oil have been responsible for massive explosions across the country.
In April 2014, for example, a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed near Lynchburg, VA, causing an explosion and an evacuation and spilling thousands of gallons of crude into the James River. The incident set the James River on fire for several hours and nearly incinerated the town of Lynchburg, according to a June 9 op-ed in the Sun.
Given the disastrous consequences of even the slightest misstep in oil transportation, the MDE’s decision to halt Targa’s plans might be best for the safety of those living in the Baltimore area.