With each passing day, another pipeline opponent seems to wake up and proclaim themselves an industry expert on pipeline construction and operations. These past few days, if you didn’t know any better, one would think that Tom Casey is some kind of an engineer with a deep background in pipeline regulations and expertise in qualitative risk.
Instead, he is just a Pennsylvania resident who opposes pipeline infrastructure without the above expertise.
Casey appears to be running an analysis of the risks associated with the Mariner East pipelines. He has begun asking folks to take a survey for what he calls the “Citizens Risk Assessment” team.
Citizen engagement is always encouraged, but these activities go beyond mere engagement. Pipeline opponents, like Tom Casey, have opposed the Mariner East projects since they were first proposed. Yet now they are now claiming they oppose these projects because of the risks posed to the local community. Unless citizens like Mr. Casey purchased their home and moved into their community over 100 years ago, pipelines like Mariner East have been operating safely beneath their feet since before they moved in.
Pipelines are the safest mode to transport energy resources, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. They are safer than transporting resources by truck on our roadways or by train through our railways, which are the alternative methods of transportation to expanded pipeline infrastructure like Mariner East.
Opponents want the public to believe that Mariner East is the first pipeline of its kind, but there are other pipelines carrying products similar to the propane, ethane, and butane that Mariner East will carry already in operation today. And some of them operate under schools, libraries and other high-traffic areas.
Proposals for a risk assessment, which is being pushed for by pipeline opponents, are nothing more than duplicative of regulations that are already in place. The risks associated with proposed pipelines like Mariner East are built into the oversight and regulations, which is much of the reason why Mariner East has received unprecedented regulatory review. It is also important to ask what an additional risk assessment would impact. The project is already permitted, and local emergency responders already receive the highest level of training and are prepared in case any type of a public safety emergency were to occur. Similarly, there is a chance that airplanes can crash, but, because of the risk associated with them, they are highly regulated and people rarely think twice before boarding a plane.
Again, Mariner East is not the first pipeline to run through southeast Pennsylvania. It’s also not the first of its kind, which seems to be the pipeline opponent’s justification for many of their arguments. Pipeline opponents like Tom Casey are digging for anything they can find to instill a maximum amount of fear in the public without any acknowledgement of the facts. This is why individuals who only oppose infrastructure projects like Mariner East have no business running a risk assessment – because he doesn’t even have the experience to know where to begin.