A bipartisan group of Maryland lawmakers wants Exelon Generation Co., LLC held financially responsible for some of the cleanup costs associated with pollution spilling over the Conowingo Dam, which the energy giant owns.
Del. Jay A. Jacobs (R-Upper Shore) has introduced a non-binding resolution stating the view of the General Assembly that Exelon “must pay a portion of the cleanup costs associated with the dam’s federal certification and at least a certain percent of the costs associated with the Susquehanna River’s Watershed Implementation Plan.”
The hydropower dam on the Susquehanna River, about 10 miles north of where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay, is seen as a major source of bay pollution coming upriver from Pennsylvania and New York. Major floods last summer spilled sediment, nutrients and other pollutants into the bay.
“My constituents and I are on the front lines of downstream effects of pollution from Conowingo Dam – particularly acute during flooding events,” Jacobs said in a statement. “Our livelihoods are already being affected by Chesapeake Bay pollution – we should not have to bear the financial responsibility for pollution from Conowingo as well.”
The state and Exelon are already enmeshed in a lawsuit and an administrative proceeding over the Conowingo Dam. The company sued the Maryland Department of Environment a year ago over certain environmental benchmarks the state was seeking as the company applied for a federal license to continue generating energy at the dam. A state court case was thrown out, though a federal case remains pending.
“The burden for cleaning up pollution behind the Conowingo Dam should not fall solely on Maryland taxpayers,” said Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, which is supporting Jacobs’ resolution in the House. “Exelon is a multi-million-dollar corporation and should pay its fair share of the total cleanup costs.”
Co-sponsoring the measure with Jacobs are: Dels. Carl Anderton Jr. (R-Wicomico); Steven J. Arentz (R-Upper Shore); Wendell R. Beitzel (R-Garrett), Joseph C. Boteler III (R-Baltimore County); Andrew Cassilly (R-Harford); Paul Corderman (R- Washington); Kevin B. Hornberger (R-Cecil); Nicholaus Kipke (R-Anne Arundel); David Moon (D-Montgomery); Charles J. Otto (R-Lower Shore); Julie Palakovich Carr (D-Montgomery); Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery); and Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County).