Last week, two protesters were arrested for trespassing while participating in the latest anti-infrastructure stunt in Pennsylvania. The women, members of “Mama Bears,” were hosting a “sit-in” at the construction site of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in an attempt to halt construction.
Anti-infrastructure groups such as these, who routinely ignore the positive benefits of the pipelines that they stringently oppose, would have you believe that they have been wronged, that they have not been allowed to have their voice heard in the debate, when the reality couldn’t be more different.
Contrary to the claims of these ideological protesters, the lengthy process from the project being proposed in 2014 to construction beginning and currently ongoing, has included more than a hundred public meetings, forums, and hearings that the company building the pipeline, Sunoco Pipeline, hosted and participated in. At each juncture, protesters and infrastructure opponents have had their opportunity to voice their opinions and raise concerns. For them to suggest differently is grossly inaccurate.
While there are differing opinions on both sides of any debate, the suggestion that they weren’t given a chance to have a say in the matter isn’t an opinion, it is a bald-faced lie. Stomping your feet and complaining isn’t the behavior of people who want to thoughtfully engage on matters of substance, it’s emblematic of toddlers who don’t get their way.
Today, anti-infrastructure groups held the most recent in a string of protests against the Mariner East 2 pipeline project, continuing to ignore the ways that natural gas production and natural gas infrastructure help Pennsylvanians.
Fringe activists like these want to govern with their ideological views, ignoring objective facts and economics. They overlook the fact that the pipelines they so adamantly oppose – such as Mariner East 2 – bring thousands of construction jobs to Pennsylvania, help local economies grow, and provide affordable, efficient, reliable energy to the Keystone state and beyond.
Their attempts to slow infrastructure progress will ultimately fail, as all of the projects underway, including Mariner East 2, have passed rigorous regulatory scrutiny. Natural gas drives Pennsylvania, and it’s helping families and communities across the state. Groups like these do not advocate for the progress Pennsylvanians want.
Over the past six months, there has been a robust debate over whether to proceed with a proposed risk assessment of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Delaware County. As reported in the The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday, the County Council voted to reissue a proposal for the risk assessment, in spite of the fact that by many accounts, it is duplicative and costly.
One of the specialists cited in the story, Richard Kuprewicz, an independent pipeline safety expert, warned that risk assessments like the one being considered are “unscientific and technically flawed.” Instead, Kuprewicz suggests developing plans for responding to any potential incidents.
Kuprewicz’s statement underscores the futility of moving forward with such a risk assessment. Further, all of the factors that a risk assessment study conducted by the state would consider have already been accounted for throughout the existing regulatory process.
If the waste of state funds and duplication of effort is not reason enough to abandon the risk assessment, the Public Utility Commission has already stated that doing a risk assessment likely violates Pennsylvania law.
The fact remains, the existing regulatory system has proven successful and this project will be a boon to the people of Pennsylvania. Misinformation about safety and risk shouldn’t distract from economic windfall that Mariner East 2 will bring to the Keystone State.
Thankfully, yesterday the Pennsylvania PUC correctly voted to restart operations of the Mariner East 1 pipeline, overruling Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes’ decision in late May. Judge Barnes’ flimsy legal ruling created a dangerous precedent utilizing unsubstantiated claims as justification without presenting the requisite evidence. Unnecessary delays like the one caused by Judge Barnes, especially after the PUC found on May 3rd that Mariner East 1 was safe, are reckless and create uncertainty for the community. On a project where the stakes are so high— including thousands of jobs for local Pennsylvanians and a $9.1 billion economic impact for the state—there is no room for mistaken legal interruptions. The PUC should be commended for making the right decision for the state and for the local communities and such future interruptions should be mitigated.
On Monday the Supreme Court decided to uphold a May 2017 ruling by a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and declined to review the challenge to Sunoco Inc.’s ability to use eminent domain. This decision, which reinforces a ruling in favor of the company, is merely one more in a long line finding in favor of Sunoco Pipeline, and more specifically, the Mariner East project.
While opponents of the infrastructure project have sought to derail its progress at every turn, the courts have repeatedly found in favor of Sunoco Pipeline, to the benefit of the state of Pennsylvania. Ultimately, this pipeline project will have a huge impact on the Commonwealth, including thousands of jobs for local Pennsylvanians and a $9.1 billion economic impact. Each decisive legal victory pushes back on infrastructure opponents who are trying to use the courts to halt a legally permitted project and increases the possibility that Pennsylvania will be able to gain the full benefit of energy development while keeping communities safe. They further underscore that this project is not only an economically beneficial one to the state, but also a project that stands on sound legal footing.
The Supreme Court’s decision was a good one and will hopefully end the legal and regulatory rigmarole that the opposition is using in fruitless attempts to stall the project.
The Delaware County Council is not proceeding with a risk assessment study on the Mariner East pipeline after finding themselves deadlocked late last week. With two votes on either side of the issue, the risk assessment, which was initially meant to be a look at all pipeline routes in Delaware County, but ultimately shifted to be narrowly focused exclusively on Mariner East, will not advance.
County Councilman Colleen Morrone, who voted against approving the study, stated: “My concern … is that this proposal that is now in front of us has significantly changed from the scope of the RFP that we approved for release. I feel my responsibility is to represent all of the residents in Delaware County. It’s about doing the right thing for all of the residents in Delaware County.”
Councilman Morrone’s vote is certainly in the best interest of not just the residents of Delaware County, but Pennsylvanians at large. Advancing a risk assessment that the Public Utility Commission has already stated likely violates Pennsylvania law would be not just illegal, but also duplicative and costly. The existing regulatory system has proven successful at every juncture of the process and can be trusted to catch any potential problems that could arise. Further, the cost burden of this unnecessary duplication would fall on taxpayers. Instead of further stalling this economically beneficial project, people should encourage efficient construction so that the project can be completed in a safe and timely manner.
Administrative Law Judge Barnes’ decision to grant Senator Andy Dinniman’s petition late last week is unfortunate and ultimately not in the best interest of the Pennsylvanians that the Senator was elected to serve.
Moreover, because the Senator does not live within the jurisdiction of the pipeline, his standing is legally flimsy at best. Permitting Senator Dinniman’s complaint to be considered and further, granting his request, creates a dangerous precedent where any opponent to a legally permitted project will feel emboldened to file complaints solely to slow the process.
Given the tremendous economic impact that the Mariner East project will have on the Commonwealth, including thousands of jobs for local Pennsylvanians and a $9.1 billion economic impact for the state, it is critical that operations be permitted to resume on Mariner East 1, 2, and 2X in the West Whiteland Township as soon as possible.
Today begins the annual bipartisan “Infrastructure Week,” kicking off nationwide efforts to raise awareness about the state of America’s infrastructure. For years, Infrastructure Week has highlighted the dismal state of bridges and roadways across the nation. While this year is expected to raise similar concerns, it also provides an opportunity to acknowledge and fix serious gaps in our nation’s energy infrastructure.
Energy is a critical component of the American economy and is a significant driver for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In fact, the Keystone State is now the second highest U.S. natural gas producing state in the nation. While the abundant resources provide an excellent economic opportunity for Pennsylvanians, in order to fully take advantage, there needs to be infrastructure capable of transporting these resources safely to end-users. Pipeline capacity issues have posed significant challenges to the oil and gas industry around the country, and threaten to do so in Pennsylvania as well, if not addressed. Unnecessary slowdowns and needless halts on operations have mired our state and raised concerns over demand in an already tight market. As Infrastructure Week progresses, our nation’s energy infrastructure should be front and center in the discussion to protect this critical part of our economy.
Late last week Senator Andrew Dinniman issued a press release questioning the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) decision to restart operations on the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The release was riddled with inaccuracies and trumped up claims of destabilized geography, which have been definitely rejected by experts. This move is merely the most recent in a string of attempts by the Senator, a staunch and vocal opponent of pipelines, to delay a legally permitted project.
In spite of Senator Dinniman’s allegations, the facts remain the facts. The PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, the expert agency at hand, found that there was no threat to the integrity of the Mariner East 1 pipeline and that geological conditions are suitable for continued operations. And the unanimous PUC vote to restart Mariner East 1 indicates that not only is the pipeline safe to operate, but also underscores that the rigorous oversight process in place is working.
After a nearly two-month long shutdown of Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 pipeline, inspectors at Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) are recommending that the pipeline resume operations. The PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement found that there was no threat to the integrity of the Mariner East 1 pipeline and that geological conditions are suitable for continued operations.
Restarting pipeline operations on Mariner East 1 is a decisive victory for the Commonwealth. Not only has the pipeline created thousands of jobs for local Pennsylvanians, together with Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X, the pipeline will provide a $9.1 billion economic impact for the state. Ending this shutdown and minimizing future disruptions to this important pipeline project is a critical step in encouraging further economic and energy development in the region. The PUC is meeting today to decide whether to approve the recommendation to restart operations for Mariner East 1.