Activist Webinar Spreads Misinformation

Last week the ‘Halt Mariner Now’ coalition – comprised of a number of infrastructure opposition groups – organized an online webinar hosted by two Mariner East 2 activists with a long history of opining against the project, while ignoring the facts of the project and industry at large.

The webinar, which lasted over an hour, exemplified the ‘preaching to the choir’ idiom. Ginny Kerslake and George Alexander have been longtime opponents of the Mariner East 2 project. Mr. Alexander publishes a personal blog called ‘DragonPipe Diary’ trying to discredit the project’s safety and benefits.

For instance, Mr. Alexander’s most recent blog tried to conflate the Mariner East 2 project and climate impacts from 1 billion units of single use plastics despite the pipeline supplying energy for a variety of industries.

How was this derived? Mr. Alexander sourced the daily energy delivered via Mariner East 2 then determined energy needed to produce a single water bottle. After a quick unit of division Mr. Alexander determined that the energy delivered by Mariner East 2 daily could produce 1 billion plastic water bottles. Just water bottles? Plastic is used for much more than just water bottles. Does Lego, Fischer Price, or VTech make any toys that do not require plastic?

This is precisely the kind of false rhetoric pontificated by the project’s opponents. Mr. Alexander takes no consideration for the actual use of the energy – much of which is consumed by Commonwealth homeowners and businesses – and instead is only interested in publishing a fearmongering headline.

Naturally, last week’s webinar leaned heavily on Mr. Alexander’s tactics.

Mr. Alexander took issue with a number of risk assessments done on the Mariner East pipelines and tried to discredit them by claiming that ‘individual risk’ is an inaccurate measurement although it is industry practice. Although his allies advocated for the risk assessments, they all take issue with the findings because the results failed to match their worldview.

Last December, the Pennsylvania Pipeline Review released a part one and part two blog on Mariner East risk assessments. Below as some key takeaways:

  • Richard Kuprewicz, President of Accufacts, found that “Sunoco meets and exceeds the requirements of federal pipeline safety regulations. These additional precautions reflect the level of respect that transporting such materials in a HCA should require in a prudent pipeline operation. Accufacts thus concludes that the 12-inch Repurpose Project spanning WGT meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of HVL.”After reviewing information provided by Sunoco.

 

  • As mentioned in previous reports, pipe steel, even pipe steel manufactured over 80 years ago, does not age or wear out like some older materials such as cast or wrought iron that can be “age” sensitive. Pipe steel has essentially an infinite life if properly maintained and operated within its design parameters, and periodically assessed as to its integrity.

And as the Delco Times reported after the Delaware County Council commissioned a $115,000 independent risk assessment, “Report finds no great risk from pipelines.”

In fact, “…the report stated that a person is 20 times more like to die from a traffic accident or fall from stairs and 35 times more likely to die from a house fire than from an incident involving the Mariner East 2 pipeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Mr. Alexander publically took issue with these risk assessments because they don’t tell him what he wants to hear.

The Mariner East projects have exceeded federal and state regulatory requirements, thus making it less of a risk than a number of common actions people engage in daily. Before hosting a second webinar, ‘Halt Mariner Now’ and George Alexander ought to consider the costs and consequences of misinforming the public, and refusing to accept findings from industry professionals.