There are some serious misconceptions regarding the Mariner East pipeline projects.
First, “spills” and “inadvertent returns” are not the same phenomena. Across news and social media coverage, this narrative of the spills across Pennsylvania liked with the pipeline has obscured real understanding of what we’re actually talking about here. According to the former head of the federal government’s energy transportation safety agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Brigham McCown, “while the occurrence makes for sensational media reports, the realities of the situation – which are not nearly as drastic as news accounts might suggest – are worth consideration, both for their insight into the operations of energy infrastructure developers as well as the relationship between private companies.”
Second, pipelines are the safest and most environmentally sustainable mode of transportation for natural gas liquids (NGL). This is well proven – and confirmed by federal data. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, “Pipeline systems are the safest means to move these products. The federal government rededicated itself to pipeline safety in 2006 when the PIPES Act was signed. It mandates new methods and makes commitments for new technologies to manage the integrity of the nation’s pipelines and raise the bar on pipeline safety.” Natural gas pipelines must adhere to strict regulations at the state and federal level – and the Mariner East projects utilize the most advanced safety technology and monitoring systems.
Third, Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is employed because it is the safest and fastest way to install pipeline underground. Across reports, pictures of “murky” water have disseminated that argue linked connection to the pipeline construction. Construction is messy. This is the best method – and is the method widely used to install pipelines under sensitive areas without digging trenches. From telecom cable line installation to water pipes, HDD is driven by its core focus on mitigating environmental impacts and protecting environmentally sensitive areas – and is a crucial tool to bolstering Pennsylvania’s infrastructure development across industries.
Fourth, this pipeline will benefit people in Pennsylvania and is already bringing jobs to hardworking people across the state. The expanded pipeline capacity will lower the cost of energy for people in Pennsylvania – and the Mariner East projects will play a significant role in repurposing Marcus Hook as a real hub for NGL distribution in the North East. Pennsylvania has a wealth of NGL capacity in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays – and needs pipelines to catalyze on harbored energy connectivity. According to Thomas Ferro, the majority owner of Ferro Fuel Oil, these pipelines have manifold direct and indirect impacts on local communities, and will increase access to propane used to heat homes through cold Pennsylvania winters. In fact, through the construction process, the projects added over $800 million in economic value to the commonwealth and supported around 8,000 jobs to its residents.
The Mariner East projects tap into this potential and spread the benefits across the state. With the offtake agreement with CPV Fairview, the infrastructure provides a direct plug to the Mariner East projects for ethane. According to The Tribune-Democrat, “the latest collaboration between Sunoco, CPV and local leadership is a perfect example of how local support can encourage corporations to combine their strengths to create the most efficient ventures, give back to local communities and create a sustainable future for Pennsylvanians.”
Fifth, Eminent Domain is a common legal procedure that is used as a last resort once a project is deemed by the federal government to benefit the “public good.” What is fundamentally at hand here, according to Lancaster Online, is that “without it we would never be able to build the roads, bridges, rail lines, power transmission lines, pipelines and other infrastructure projects needed to uphold our civilization and our quality of life.” The string of rulings on this issue reinforce the authority of Sunoco Logistics in this area.