The struggle to control planning for state and national energy needs has taken another turn in the federal courts, this time perhaps in favor of developers.
Baltimore County passed a zoning ordinance to block AES Corp’s plans for a Sparrows Point LNG terminal in Baltimore. A minefield of statutes — a federal Natural Gas Act (NGA), federally approved Coastal Zone Management Plans (CMP) and the exercising of states’ rights under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) — ensured court battles on whether communities can block LNG facilities.
Now, a federal appeals court has reversed a lower court ruling that had upheld Baltimore County’s ban. While the county ordinance was presented as an amendment to the CPM, the state of Maryland never presented the amendment to the CMP to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as required by the CZMA.
“Unless the CMP is property amended, a state cannot unilaterally amend its CMP in violation of the CZMA’s requirement of federal approval,” wrote the Washington-based law firm of Van Ness Feldman about the court ruling.