Cove Point protest goes prime time

04 November 2015, News Wires – A group protesting the construction of Dominion Resources’ Cove Point liquefied natural gas plant interrupted a high-profile American football game on Monday night, targeting financiers of the export project and urging them to withdraw support.

CovePointLogo (1)Activists from the group dubbed We Are Cove Point rappelled from the upper deck of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and unfurled a banner with the words “BofA: Dump Dominion” in the third quarter of a rainy Monday Night Football match between the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers.

Monday Night Football is one of the most watched television events in the US every week, routinely drawing well over 10 million viewers per game. While broadcaster ESPN devoted almost no air time to the protest, We Are Cove Point boasted that the banner was seen by more the 70,000 people at the stadium.

Bank of America, or BofA, is an underwriter of Dominion’s proposed $3.8 billion LNG export facility and has contributed financing for the project, according to We Are Cove Point. The bank did not have an immediate comment on Tuesday.

“We Are Cove Point activists are now calling on Bank of America and other lending institutions to stop financing Dominion,” the group said in a statement.

According to reports, four people were charged in the incident with second-degree trespassing, resisting a public officer and dropping objects at a sporting event. We Are Cover Point’s website said it was fundraising for bail money.

Dominion said in a statement on Tuesday that is “respects the right of peaceful protest, but the incident last night in Charlotte jeopardised the safety of people at the game and the emergency responders who were forced to perform the rescue operation”.

“We are thankful that no one was injured,” the statement said.

Cove Point, located in the state of Maryland, is a proposed two-train LNG project that aims to convert an existing import facility to an export plant with a capacity of about 5.75 million tonnes per annum of LNG.

It is the fourth LNG export project to receive approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) and would be the first LNG project on the US East Coast. It is expected to come online in 2017.

The project has come under sharp criticism from environmental groups who worry that its construction will contribute to an increase in domestic gas activity and a spike in hydraulic fracturing.

Earlier this year, activists at Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against Ferc saying the regulator did not adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of Cove Point. It was one ofseveral attempts to block construction of the project.

Dominion said in a third-quarter earnings release on Monday that the LNG project is “on time and on budget” and is now about 47% complete.

Cove Point’s capacity is fully subscribed with 20-year service agreements with a joint venture between Sumitomo and Tokyo Gas of Japan, as well as Indian gas player Gail. Each are committed to take 2.3 mtpa of LNG.

The Panthers won the game in overtime by a score of 29-26.

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