State Sen. Bobby Zirkin is taking aim at a Baltimore Sun story that calls into question his motives for opposing a natural gas pipeline that is planned to be built near his neighborhood.
"It's junk reporting," said Zirkin, a Democrat who represents the Owings Mills, Pikesville, Reisterstown areas along with a portion of Timonium. "I expect more from a multimillion-dollar corporation."
Zirkin made his comments during a March 4 interview on the C4 Show on WBAL Radio.
The story quotes a Columbia Gas Transmission official saying that Zirkin vowed to vehemently oppose the proposed project "unless we got the pipeline away from his house."
The Houston-based gas company official does not provide details backing up the claim. The story goes on to state that Zirkin has been advised by a lawyer to the legislature that his actions do not represent a conflict of interest.
Zirkin's property is not directly affected by the planned construction of a 21-mile line that would run parallel to an existing natural gas pipeline that runs from Columbia to Owings Mills and through Oregon Ridge park in Hunt Valley and ultimately would terminate in Harford County.
The article makes note of a bill filed this year by Zirkin that would have prohibited the family members of registered state lobbyists from being appointed to the Baltimore County Board of Education.
Last month, Patch reported that the bill would affect just one school board member—Valarie Roddy, the wife of Patrick Roddy, who is a registered lobbyist who worked on behalf of Columbia Gas Transmission.
Zirkin, in an interview last month, said the bill was about preventing possible conflicts of interest.
"I think in terms of members of the school board, they should be above any appearances of impropriety," Zirkin said.
He repeated the that claim Monday afternoon on the radio.
"When you have a high-priced lobbyist that is getting a seat on the school board, that's a problem," said Zirkin.
The senator withdrew the bill last month a few days after the county Senate delegation held a hearing on the bill.
"Timing-wise, I wish I hadn't put the bill in," said Zirkin, who then called the story "he said, she said junk" and said it detracted from the larger issue of safety concerns surrounding the pipelines.
"The battleground on oil and gas has come to the front doors of Maryland," Zirkin said.