Zirkin: Baltimore Sun Article 'Junk He Said-She Said'

The Democratic state senator says a story portraying his opposition to a gasline near his neighborhood as a personal vendetta "is laughable."

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—, 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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Omjohncel March 06, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Agree with as the world. I got a list of the bills from Dana stein. All about safety. Why would you oppose making pipelines safe???
Dan Garber March 06, 2013 at 08:35 PM
In containing the discussion to the current issue at hand, Zirkin has been a rather vocal champion of the community and advocate of its rights. NiSource initially was rather lacking in their initial disclosure of the scope of the project. They have called it necessary because of backup and maintenance but yet one could argue its more about additional capacity and the ability to compete with a neighboring pipeline within a half mile. The lack of oversight is staggering. The debate is a simple one. Should a private company be allowed to use eminent domain to confiscate private property with little challenge. Bobby has clearly stated in all discussions that he has several sides in the fight; his role as a senator, as community representative and as a homeowner. I for one am glad he had the guts to stand up to NiSource and the Sun.
Steve March 06, 2013 at 08:36 PM
I think the Senator is spot on in regards to the Big Oil and Gas running roughshod over the people of Maryland especially in light of Exxon getting the big award overturned in the lawsuit over the leak in Jacksonville/Four Corners. Those poor people ended up with nothing.
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