These Are No Longer Local Fights

Looking at local opposition efforts to the Mariner East 2 pipeline, fragmented township-level protests have become increasingly coordinated through efforts by national groups, like Food & Water Watch.

In the November 7 local municipal elections, The Daily Local News reported that “grassroots campaigning helped to put candidates over the top in West Goshen and Uwchlan Townships, according to local candidates and supporters.” The Philadelphia Inquirer further detailed that “Four Democrats, supported by the political arm of a national environmental group, won races for township supervisor in Uwchlan and West Goshen, which are bisected by the Mariner East system that conveys natural-gas liquids to Sunoco’s terminal in Marcus Hook.”

Tom Shepstone asserted in a Natural Gas Now piece that these activities tie into a larger narrative of Food and Water Watch conning local taxpayers, highlighting how “Sam Bernhardt, senior organizer with Food & Water Action, said his organization spent  about $40,000 to provide organizers and to mail brochures to voters in the two townships. The effort was buttressed by a door-to-door campaign targeting every house within 1,000 feet of the pipeline route.” Food & Water Watch even endorsed candidates, which is not permissible under their 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 tax filing status.

This engagement with Food & Water Watch on the Mariner East projects shifts local township narratives from local safety concerns to nationalized anti-infrastructure political agendas. The energy infrastructure projects at hand go above-and-beyond to meet township and federal standards for safety. The townships in question need to be careful to not get subsumed under anti-progress national agendas, to the detriment of local concerns.