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Cove Point Protest Disrupts Monday Night Football

“Dump Dominion” banner unfurled by We Are Cove Point

A pair of Cove Point protestors dropped from the upper deck of Bank of America Stadium during Nov. 2’s Monday Night Football game. In the Charlotte, N.C., stadium, an anticipated sellout crowd of close to 75,000 people were on hand for third-quarter play between the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts.
    Based on recent Monday Night Football audiences, an estimated 12 million more were watching on television.
    As Rica Madrid and John Nicholson rappelled down, they lowered a banner that read, BoA: Dump Dominion, BoA stands for Bank of America.
    The spectacle is the farthest outreach of an alliance of Calvert County neighbors of Dominion Cove Point Natural Gas terminal and their environmental activist supporters. The scope of opposition ranges from community disruption to the effects of natural gas production, including fracking, on climate change.
    In Calvert County since the 1970s, Cove Point Natural Gas depot has evolved with the changing energy economy. It was built to import natural gas, shuttered, sold and reopened by Dominion in the 1990s for import, which turned into a trickle as American natural gas became a hot commodity. Over the last decade, Dominion has been regearing for export, sparking protests that have ranged from local marches to arrests in Washington at the Federal Energy Resources Commission. FERC, as the commission is known, regulates the natural gas industry and has given Dominion export go-ahead.
    The Monday Night Football protest aimed at the money sources financing construction, which is estimated to cost $3.8 billion.
    “Bank of America is allowing companies like Dominion to operate without checks and balances,” protestor Nicholson said in a prepared statement. “They are giving money directly to Dominion with full knowledge of the health and safety risks of building an LNG export facility, and they need to be accountable for that.”
    According to We Are Cove Point, “Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has played a major role in financing Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) and its $3.8 billion LNG export facility at Cove Point through Dominion Midstream (NYSE: DM). Bank of America is part of a consortium of banks that is lending Dominion up to $4 billion to finance several planned gas infrastructure projects. In June 2013, Bank of America also underwrote $275 million to contribute to the capital expense of the Dominion Cove Point facility.”
    Refusing to come down, protesters Madrid and Nicholson were lowered by the fire department and arrested. The pair and their support team, Angela Vogel and David Bagdadi, faced multiple misdemeanor charges including trespassing, resisting arrest and “throwing or dropping an object at a sporting event.” None of the four is a Calvert County resident.
    “We definitely got a great deal of attention, and I think that’s really important because not enough people knew about the relationship between BoA and and Dominion, and now they have a much clearer idea,” said We are Cove Point spokeswoman Kelly Canavan, of Prince George’s County. “Now we’re waiting to see if Bank of ­America takes action and other people pull their money out.”
    Dominion Cove Point, which is scheduled to begin export on 20-year signed contracts in late 2017, saw it differently. “We are thankful that no one was injured,” said spokesman Karl Neddenien. “But it is irresponsible for those involved to endanger the lives of emergency responders and the public for a misguided publicity and fundraising stunt.”
    In Monday Night Football, the Panthers, now 7-0, won in overtime, 29 to 26.