Eastern Panhandle Expansion

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This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.

Eastern Panhandle Expansion is a proposed natural gas pipeline.[1] The overall expansion project also includes the Mountaineer Gas Pipeline.


The proposed pipeline would go under the Potomac River between Berkeley Springs, West Virginia and the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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Project Details

  • Operator: TransCanada
  • Current capacity: Million cubic feet per day
  • Proposed capacity: 4750 Million cubic feet per day
  • Length: 4 miles / 7 km
  • Status: Proposed
  • Start Year: 2019


The proposed Eastern Panhandle Expansion would be built by Columbia Gas Transmission, a TransCanada subsidiary. The pipeline would connect a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to a Mountaineer Gas line in West Virginia by going under the Potomac River near Hancock, MD.[2] The pipeline would require a permit from the state of Maryland because it owns the Potomac, and it would require a permit from the National Park Service because it would run beneath the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park.[2]

In January 2019 the Maryland Board of Public Works declined to give an easement for the pipeline to go through Maryland, including a "no" vote from Gov. Larry Hogan, who has been previously supportive of expanding infrastructure for natural gas.[3]


At a February 2017 TransCanada presentation about the pipeline in Hancock, MD, pipeline opponents cited the potential for the project to contaminate the drinking water that the Potomac provides to more than 6 million people.

In April 2017 in response to its Notice of Intention to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the project, FERC received comments from the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Allegheny Defense Project, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, citing the potential for the pipeline to harm groundwater quality, karst features, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. FERC has announced that its EA will be published in January 2018.[4]

In June 2017 activists began a camp-in protest at the proposed site of the pipeline, and urged Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to deny TransCanada a certification stating that the project would not impact state water quality. Maryland has banned fracking, and activists argue that it should not be complicit in sending fracked gas to other states.[5]

Kayakers protest the proposed Eastern Panhandle Expansion pipeline in June 2017.

In December 2017 more than 200 residents and activists attended a rally outside a Maryland Department of the Environment hearing on the pipeline that was held in Hancock, MD.[6] The pipeline has also been opposed by several local governments, including the Boonsboro, MD Town Council, the District of Columbia City Council, and the Washington County, MD, Board of Commissioners.[7]

Additional organizations opposed to the pipeline are AMP Creeks Council, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Clean Water Action, Earthworks, Food & Water Watch, Howard County Climate Action, Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA), Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, Maryland Conservation Council, Maryland Environmental Health Network, Maryland Sierra Club, Nature Abounds, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Savage River Watershed Association, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and We Are Cove Point.

Articles and resources


  1. Eastern Panhandle Expansion, TransCanada, accessed September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Activists crowd meeting on proposed pipeline under Potomac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 10, 2017
  3. TransCanada Maryland pipeline expansion nixed by regulator, Seeking Alpha, Jan. 3, 2019
  4. Docket No. CP17-80-000, Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 196, Oct. 12, 2017
  5. Protesters vow to block gas pipeline that would go under Potomac in Md., WTOP, Jun. 30, 2017
  6. Big crowd leads to continuance of natural-gas pipeline hearing , Hagerstown Herald-Mail, Dec. 20, 2017
  7. 200 Landowners And Advocates Join To Oppose Potomac Pipeline As Hogan Administration Weights Approval, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Dec. 20, 2017

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