Risk Assessment Would Be Duplicative

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.

ME2 Construction Set To Get Back Underway

For 36 days, a vital part of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure has been stuck in neutral, unable to help our workers or benefit our economy. Since the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a halt to construction along the Mariner East 2 Pipeline on January 3rd of this year, thousands of workers have been without work, a project that will impact Pennsylvania’s economy to the tune of $9.1 billion has stood pat, and our state has quietly suffered.

Thankfully, the DEP announced this morning that it “has lifted the order suspending DEP-permitted operations” after receiving a revised Operations Plan from Sunoco Pipeline. The DEP also announced “that it has issued a $12.6 million civil penalty to Sunoco Pipeline, LLP (Sunoco) for permit violations” related to the project.

Within the revised Operations Plan, Sunoco Pipeline adds “additional measures and controls Sunoco will put in place to ensure that all permit conditions will be followed at all times moving forward, as well as additional measures and controls that Sunoco will implement to minimize inadvertent returns and water supply incidents,” which will further ensure that the 350-mile pipeline is constructed safely and efficiently, placing a premium on minimizing the environmental impact.

As DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement,

“Since the permit suspension over a month ago, Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline construction activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions, and will be allowed to resume. DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits.”

With more than 90% of the mainline pipeline construction complete, it’s exciting to see this project getting back on track. Throughout the construction process, nearly 60,000 workers will be employed, impacting communities from Washington to Delaware county. Delaying the project was harming Pennsylvanians, harming our infrastructure, and harming our unique position in the energy world.

We should expect construction to begin in earnest within the next few weeks, and it’s about time Pennsylvania’s union members are able to get back to work. This is an incredible step not only for Pennsylvania’s workers and economy, but the country as a whole. The Mariner East 2 pipeline is a vital part of our nation’s infrastructure expansion, and with the DEP’s greenlight this morning we’re set to see the benefits sooner rather than later.

Again, Anti-Pipeline Activists Confuse Facts with Fiction

In a recent letter written to the Delco Times, Eric Friedman from Thornbury needed just four words to show how little he regards the truth about the Mariner East pipeline – a habit consistently shown from anti-pipeline activists attempting to halt Pennsylvania’s pipeline infrastructure development. Friedman writes that the process of constructing Mariner East 2 has occurred “in [a] reckless rush.” It’s impossible to say if Friedman is ignorant or apathetic to the truth, but it’s clear that he cares little for the fact that the project has gone through years of review from countless oversight bodies, local and state governments and has exceeded safety requirements.

Friedman goes on to make poorly informed claims based off of cherry picked studies that again omit reality. He chooses instead to ignore the most recent data on the projects because they do not fit his narrow worldview and narrative. Nowhere does he mention that economic estimates have doubled in recent, with a new expected economic impact of $9.1 billion for Pennsylvania’s economy.

The projects will also create and support nearly 60,000 jobs during the construction process, while supporting up to 530 jobs with earnings between $30 and $45 million. Add in that the Mariner East projects will produce between $140 and $210 million in annual economic impacts, and the picture begins to fill out. Friedman chooses to include the points that he does because telling the truth would undermine his entire argument.

Friedman’s letter is just the latest in a long string of ideologically tilted arguments intended to stunt the development of Pennsylvania’s much-needed infrastructure. Freidman and anti-pipeline advocates that occupy the fringes of the ideological spectrum attempt to discredit these important projects by omitting the truth and amplifying only what suits them. A well informed debate is the most important thing when it comes to any divided issue, but time and time again opposition groups have shown how little they care for facts and the truth when it comes to Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.

It’s dangerous to propagate ideological views as the truth, particularly when doing so willfully spreads misinformation, but eliciting fear has been a part of their playbook. We should strive to understand the full picture, the entire story – and that’s something that Eric Friedman simply chooses not to do.  The bottom line is that Mariner East 2, and the Mariner East projects, will boost Pennsylvania’s economy and create tens of thousands of jobs; providing increased access to efficient, clean-burning, affordable energy; and provide countless economic benefits for Pennsylvania, all while ensuring the safety of our communities and environment.

Fringe Groups Continue To Ignore Facts On ME2

In March of 2017, an inspector for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) observed “numerous coating scrapes” on sections of pipe that were to be used for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline near Hopedale, Ohio. The impacted sections were immediately removed by Sunoco, the construction company building Mariner East 2, and replaced with new pipe that both exceeded industry safety standards, and passed additional inspections.

On January 11 of this year, the PHMSA issued a “Notice of Probable Violation” to Sunoco as a result of this incident. Anti-pipeline activists without professional knowledge of the industry or factual knowledge of this specific situation seem to be using State Impact’s story to paint this as a “gotcha” moment, when in reality this is simply the safety system working, and Sunoco has eagerly worked to ensure this occurs nowhere else along the construction route. Looking at the PHMSA order, it does appear that Sunoco had noted the damage to the pipe by saying “that pipe number 9567161903, identified by Sunoco as the gouged segment of pipe , was subjected to the field bending which resulted in damage to the outside diameter pipe wall,” and per the report, it does not appear that the pipe had, at that time, been installed for use.

Richard Kuprewicz, President of Accufacts, who does have expertise in the world of pipeline integrity management did comment on the story. As State Impact reported, “Richard Kuprewicz, president of Accufacts, said it appeared that the Ohio incident was not too serious, since the agency did not impose a fine, and that Sunoco seems to have fixed the problem. “It’s a year ago, they are not really getting too serious about it in the sense of escalating a major fine,” said Kuprewicz about the incident. “It signals to me that the company, in getting this called to their attention, had an explanation that reached some satisfaction with PHMSA.”

State Impact, reported on the Notice of Probable Violation in a story clearly slanted towards the anti-infrastructure groups who rely on ideological gimmicks to push an anti-progress, radical agenda that will only hurt the Pennsylvania economy, and Pennsylvanian workers.

Eric Friedman, a member of the Middletown Coalition, an anti-pipeline group in Delaware County, called it “frightening” to think of “how many other instances of substandard construction there may be on Mariner East,” showing just how willing these groups are to turn a blind eye to the truth. Friedman has no real knowledge of the facts of this situation, and he has no knowledge of what steps Sunoco has taken over the past year to fix and prevent this problem.

Friedman chooses to ignore the fact that this is an example of the process working. Inspectors from a number of different groups – federal, state, and private – all examine every single stretch of pipe that is going to be laid down on projects like Mariner East 2. When they discover an issue and that issue is resolved, it’s a success of the safety nets set up precisely to ensure that the pipeline construction process is as safe as possible. Regulators are intended to oversee the project based on safety regulations and not through a fringe-ideological lens like Friedman does.

Taking in only the top of State Impact’s article, or Eric Friedman’s misinformed quote, will leave you with an incorrect impression of this development.  This really shows how important it is to have a well-informed discussion about projects like Mariner East. Relying on ideological slanted perspective like this does not tell the real story, but leans more towards ideological propaganda.

CBS Makes False Claims Against Mariner East Projects

This morning, CBS This Morning, broadcast a slanted news segment about the Mariner East project, which summed up to nothing short of propaganda by a network news organization. Mariner East is a pipeline project that, once completed, will deliver natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County. This project will provide great benefit for all Pennsylvanians through increased economic benefits as well as increased access to necessary energy resources, which many Pennsylvanian’s rely on to heat and power their homes.

Just two weeks ago, Pennsylvania-based Econsult put out a report that shows the overall economic impact of the Mariner East projects, revitalization of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, and corollary projects will have a $9.1 billion economic impact on Pennsylvania and create over 50,000 jobs, many of which are Pennsylvanians in the well-trained highly skilled construction trades.

Some of the claims made by CBS This Morning were:

  1. Claim: “First responders can’t build emergency response plans.”

Fact: Pipelines have been operating safely in Pennsylvania for nearly 100 years, including high volatile liquid (HVL) lines like Mariner East. Former Assistant to the General President of the International Firefighters Union recently stated in the Delaware Times that “pipelines are the safest mode to transport energy resources. They are much better for public safety than transporting these resources through our communities above ground, by train, and on our roadways by truck.

Pipelines are also much more efficient. Recent Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach sessions spanning every county along the Mariner East line focused on specialized training for police, fire, EMS, and emergency management organizations. The unknown is always more fearful than the known and the more knowledgeable that citizens become about how technologically advanced today’s pipelines are and the community safety precautions that are in place, concerns should lessen.”

  1. Claim: “A senator said while the pipeline is safe, the concern of some citizens may have been overlooked. I think the gas companies, where they missed the boat, they didn’t do enough education. They needed to meet with these neighbors and not just go ahead with construction.”

Fact: Sunoco had met with local residents, presented to neighborhood associations, and participated in countless events and regulatory proceedings for nearly 3 years before the project was lawfully permitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). These projects are not put together overnight and granted the authority to construct, but go through years of planning and approvals by countless governmental bodies and regulatory agencies.

  1. Claim: “It (Mariner East) will carry liquid natural gas to a shipping terminal where it will be exported overseas.”

Fact: Mariner East provides much needed propane to Pennsylvanians and other local and regional customers today. A large number of Pennsylvania residents rely on propane for home heat in the wintertime, which is one of the countless benefits that Mariner East and Marcus Hook currently provide: affordable access to necessary energy resources. Additionally, there are plans for offtakes across the pipeline for these resources including a recent announcement that Mariner East will provide ethane to General Electric’s $900 million Competitive Power Ventures Fairview 1,050-megawatt electric generating station in Cambria County, which will power approximately 1 million homes. These resources are also critical for manufacturing and will be critical to help energize the regions manufacturing base.

  1. Claim: “The pipeline runs right through town and through some of the most densely populated parts of the state.”

Fact: Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X run parallel with Mariner East 1, which has been operating safely through Pennsylvania for decades. The pipeline route utilizes existing right of way.

  1. Claim: Showing 8 pipelines on screen

Fact: Mariner East is a project that will include 3 pipelines: Mariner East 1, Mariner East 2, and Mariner East 2X. Mariner East 1 is a repurposed line that has been in operation for decades. Beginning in 2013, Sunoco performed the needed upgrades to reverse the flow and today transports propane to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex with plans to provide multiple off-take locations across the state. Mariner East 2 is currently under construction and Mariner East 2X is planned to be installed shortly thereafter. These new lines are being constructed alongside the existing Mariner East 1 pipeline and utilize existing right of way for the path. In all, these 3 lines will ship propane, ethane, and butane.

  1. Claim: Bentonite is harmful.

Fact: Bentonite is not toxic and approved for use the Food and Drug Administration. Some common uses of non-toxic bentonite include makeup, pharmaceuticals, and animal feed.

Failing to interview anyone with the opposing view shows that CBS This Morning’s segment was sloppy journalism. The two local citizens interviewed are entitled to their own opinions, but due to their anti-progress fringe activism, fail to represent the viewpoint of Pennsylvanians who are already benefiting from this important project.


Fringe Group Again Demonstrates Trouble Relationship With The Truth

Once again showing their troubled relationship with facts and the truth, the fringe environmentalist group Food & Water Watch is trying to justify their “battle” against the Mariner East pipeline.

In an attempt to discredit the years-long process that Sunoco and Mariner East went through in order to begin construction, Food & Water Watch notes that “Governor Wolf’s administration has been generally supportive of the fracking industry,” hinting at inside baseball in how permits were granted to the project. Grasping at straws here, they’ve made a claim with no basis in facts, instead choosing to overlook the arduous and exhaustive permitting process that all pipelines go through in order to begin construction.

Mariner East 2 received the proper permissions and permits after scores of meetings, and piles of analyses over two and a half years. They have also been found to exceed safety regulations. Food and Water Watch only wants to evoke emotion here; they care nothing for whether or not their claims are actually true.

Another false claim made by this fringe, anti-infrastructure group is that “the material sought by drilling companies is intended for export to Europe, to be used in the manufacture of plastics.” First of all, attempting to discredit an infrastructure project importance by arguing that it is going to increase a region’s exports is an inherently flawed argument, as increasing trade is going to boost a region’s economy. That’s economics 101, and this wild swing shows again Food & Water Watch’s troubled understanding of how economics actually work.

Second, as detailed by Tom Shepstone in a recent series for Natural Gas Now, the resources transported via the Mariner East 2 pipeline are going to lower heating costs, help local manufacturers, and will be an overall boost to local economies. Marcus Hook already provides propane transported through the Mariner East pipelines to local propane distributors for home heat and they will be providing ethane to the PCV Fairview Plant in Cambria County, which will have a positive impact on utility customers across Pennsylvania. This project has great benefits for the Keystone state, but Food and Water Watch would have you believe that all benefits will travel overseas, when that could not be further from the truth. In addition to the increased access to energy resources provided by ME2, Pennsylvania will benefit to the tune of $9.1 billion, while creating thousands of jobs for hard working Pennsylvanians all across the keystone state.

This project will be extremely beneficial to Pennsylvania, and it’s important that we talk about it using truth and facts. Food & Water Watch turns a blind eye to both, and their clear lack of understanding underscores how unfit they are to discuss these vital infrastructure projects.

Fringe Group Fails to Understand Importance of Economics

After Econsult released their study on the economic impacts of the Mariner East projects earlier this week, the response was positive. It’s hard to find fault when it is projected that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will enjoy a $9.1 billion impact from these infrastructure projects, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of construction jobs that have been, and will be, created. Yet there still remain some fringe activist groups who came out publicly against this study.

Sam Rubin, a professional protestor and Eastern Pennsylvania organizer with Food & Water Watch released a statement asserting that a “company-sponsored study of economic impacts should not distract us from the life-and-death safety risks the Mariner East pipeline poses to our communities.”

Rubin’s fear mongering claims on the safety of the Mariner East projects fall flat, as he chooses to ignore the simple fact that it has never been more environmentally friendly to build a pipeline, and that pipelines are far and away the safest means for transporting natural gas and natural gas liquids. As Kevin O’Connor notes for the Delco Times, pipeline companies “conduct consultations with community leaders and other stakeholders as well as with engineering firms, operators and contractors to meet strict safety regulations,” and they “utilize advanced safety technology to identify the safest route and further mitigate environmental impacts and ensure system integrity.” These additional measures and “adherence to best practice safety standards [often] far exceed both industry and government standards.”

Here, again, Food and Water Watch demonstrates their difficult relationship with reality. Their brazen claims about the safety of the Mariner East projects have consistently been shown to be untrue. When these fringe, anti-infrastructure activists are confronted with facts that run counter to their views and opinions, they swing wildly in an attempt to dismiss objective truths and empirical data with nothing but emotion.

The Mariner East projects will have an estimated economic impact of $9.1 billion, they will create 57,070 jobs between 2013 and 2019, and will produce between $140 and $210 million of annual economic impact in the Commonwealth. Sam Rubin’s attempt to discredit Econsult’s exhaustive study rings blatantly hollow, as the incredibly beneficial economic impacts of the Mariner East projects have been quantified and lain out for the world to see.

New Study Finds Tremendous Economic Impact of Mariner Projects

Just five days after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suspended construction along the Mariner East 2 pipeline route, a study was released detailing the significant economic impact that the project will have for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

On Monday, Econsult published their comprehensive study on the economic impact that the Mariner East projects will have – updating their estimates from 2015 to account for “several changes to the Mariner East project scope and the introduction of an additional phase.” The study finds that not only will there be a “one-time economic impact of nearly $9.1 billion in the Commonwealth,” but the Mariner East projects, along with additional improvements at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, will “produce between $140 and $210 million of ongoing annual economic impacts in the Commonwealth.”

The impact helps more than the Commonwealth at large, as tens of thousands of individual Pennsylvanians will be employed and consistently paid as a result of these projects. During the construction phase, these projects “will support 57,070 direct, indirect and induced jobs between 2013 and 2019 with earnings of $2.7 billion impacting multiple industries,” and once completed, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex will support “between 360 and 530 jobs direct, indirect, and induced jobs with earnings between $30 and $45 million.”

This new study comes during a crossroads period for the Mariner East projects, and they serve to highlight the importance of these projects to Pennsylvania’s economy, and Pennsylvania’s citizens. Halting construction halts construction jobs and significant economic growth. Resuming construction will employ thousands of hard working Americans, and get Pennsylvania back on track to reaping the $9.1 billion rewards.

Let’s Get the Facts Straight About the Latest News on ME2.

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection suspended construction work of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Looking at statements from anti-infrastructure politicians and grassroots organizations, there seems to be a real misunderstanding as to why this happened and what will happen in the coming days.

State Representative Krueger-Braneky and Representative Comitta released statements yesterday highlighting how the halt to construction was caused by safety concerns.

Such statements are not based in fact and are an irresponsible mischaracterization by elected officials. Based on the DEP’s order, construction has been halted due to environmental outcomes due to the construction process. The DEP has asked Sunoco to respond to the issues of concern within 30-days, which Sunoco has agreed to comply with.

It’s important to get the facts straight here – the Mariner East Pipeline has been designed at every stage of installation to use advanced safety technology and to bolster system integrity along the line. While it is clear that fringe activists like Food and Water Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund do not care about the safe delivery of needed energy resources and oppose all necessary infrastructure projects, but one would hope that elected officials such as Representatives Krueger-Braneky and Comitta could get basic facts straight.

Ideologues Gimmicks Display Lack of Appreciation of Pennsylvanian Professionalism

Time and time again, stories of fringe ideologues’ efforts against energy infrastructure projects display continual lack of respect for professionals at work.

Most recently, Lancaster Online reported that “State police filed three citations after Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline builder Williams Partners turned over video footage reportedly showing people trespassing on private property Saturday afternoon in the area of 1010 Susquehannock Drive, Martic Township.” The group Lancaster Against Pipelines had shared footage of the participants handing out cookies at the pipeline site – and this latest gimmick ties into a series of efforts to hinder construction and enter the construction site without official approval. As we have posted about before, pipeline projects across the Northeast catalyze regional workforce development and economic growth. One pipeline that has factored into this pro-growth trend in Pennsylvania has been the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, which is poised to bring millions of dollars into the local economy and already employs over 350 people.

Increasingly, protesters opposed to the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline have interfered with construction work through any means necessary, wherein 29 people were arrested in these obstructionist efforts. Time and time again, these protesters fail to acknowledge how these efforts obstruct hardworking Pennsylvanian men and women trying to make a living and provide for their families – and flatly display a lack of value for professionalism.

Projects like the Atlantic Sunrise project present pro-growth benefits for the region, and all these efforts do is delay completion of construction. Hopefully, the next time one of these protestors decides to hinder construction efforts here, they consider how it impacts the hardworking workers who are just trying to do their jobs.