Sen. Katie Muth Makes False Claims, Kerslake Dismissive

Because of all the misinformation pushed by anti-pipeline activists about energy infrastructure projects, Pennsylvania Pipeline Review highlights the bad actors. In the past week there have been a number of them.

Yesterday, anti-pipeliner Ginny Kerslake wrote on her Facebook account that “no one has claimed the drill at Shoen Road in West Whiteland Township has impacted drinking water,” which is not true. Last week, State Senator Katie Muth issued a statement last Monday saying, “this latest failure by the operators at Mariner East pipeline is unacceptable. Drinking water has now been contaminated…” Kerslake herself was in a video on Facebook acknowledging that the aquifer had been used for drinking water and was being polluted.

An elected official making reckless, unfounded claims about community drinking water is unfortunate to say the least. It’s just another day for these anti-pipeliners. 

Activists with Skewed View Can’t Be Trusted

When paid to push a certain ideological view and/or cause, some tend to lose sight of the facts. There is a lot of this going around Chester County recently.

In the past week there have been incidents where these activists have claimed that drinking water has been impacted based on no foundation for their claim. Some have even said they received calls from a state senator making the same false claims, telling people that their drinking water has been tainted could undoubtedly create mass confusion and hysteria.

To clear things up, the pipeline developer made clear that public water was not impacted due to the incident at Schoen Rd. At Marsh Creek Lake, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a statement last week pushing back on claims that drinking water was also impacted at Marsh Creek Lake.

These activists claim that regulators aren’t doing their job, but the fact is they are making determinations based on geology, engineering, and biology, identifying the facts of the situation. They also have to spend time clearing up misstatements by pipeline opponents, like assuring whole communities that their drinking water has not been damaged.

These activists are backed by deep pockets to push their anti-pipeline causes. One, who has a history of taking money from dark money groups, just lost a second race in as many years by nineteen points. Other moneyed interests use the strategy of filing frivolous lawsuits after frivolous lawsuit. In fact, a judge recently gave them a pretty stern slap-down for their tactics.

The anti-pipeliners have funders they answer to and continue latch onto anything they can to help push their cause…whether legitimate or not. Not sure they have a good track record as a responsible source of factual information.

IR Drilling Incident at Marsh Creek Lake Poses No Threat to Safety

On Monday, an inadvertent return (IR) occurred at Marsh Creek Lake in Upper Uwchlan Township releasing 8,163 gallons of drilling mud, mostly made of water and a non-toxic bentonite at the lake site. Pipeline opponents want Pennsylvanians to believe that the water supply is contaminated with toxic chemicals harming the environment but this is simply not true.

Let’s stick to the facts. Drilling mud is a commonly used in Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) for the purpose of minimizing environmental impact. For that reason, the mixture is mostly water and must adhere to safe drinking standards. There are no toxic chemicals present. Bentonite, is not only harmless, but it is a common ingredient in things we use everyday including face creams, lipstick, and more.

And let’s be clear, no drinking water in the area has been impacted.

There is no immediate threat to anyone’s safety regardless of what anti-pipeline activists say. While IRs are never ideal, they do happen. In their permit with The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and through their agreement with some of the anti-pipeline groups Energy Transfer (ET) is required to report IRs to the DEP, respond to any IR and contain it to prevent adverse impacts. ET took accountability and has been working nonstop to clean the affected area concentrating on preventing spread and removing the mud quickly and efficiently.

Despite their cries, it’s good to see that the pipeline opponents are still able to enjoy the Marsh Creek State Park and paddle throughout the lake. The impact must not have been as bad as some have characterized.

New Data Confirms PA’s Infrastructure Does Not Lower Property Value, Again

DataUSA’s new data demonstrates that property values in Chester and Delaware County, both situated along the Mariner East pipeline, increased in 2018. This proves what many anti-pipeline activists have been known to claim that pipeline construction would decrease property value in the state. One, Eric Friedman continues to push his baseless claims by questioning his rising property values. He claims “Unless you take into account the stigma and the price impairment caused by the pipeline then you’re not reflecting fair market value.” 

For years, reports and studies demonstrated that Friedman’s claim was false and this new data confirms it again. For example, The Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) Foundation found in two separate studies, one in 2001 and then again in 2016 that a home’s value was not negatively impacted by pipeline construction.  Property value did not decrease in PA’s Washington County while there was construction in 2015 either. As this additional study proves, the facts still stand, PA’s energy infrastructure does not lower property values.

Anti-Pipeline Blogger Back to Blurring Truths and Creating Conspiracy Theories to Fit His Agenda

In his recent Dragonpipe Diary blog, George Alexander paints yet another conspiracy theory about the Mariner East pipeline for his readers.

On June 22, Joshua Springer, a former pipeline technician, pleaded guilty in federal court to falsifying records about the integrity of welds on the Mariner East pipeline. Springer worked on a 20- mile section of the pipeline in western Pennsylvania and his responsibilities included taking X-rays of welds and interpreting the data to make sure the welds met proper standards based on PHMSA regulations. In 2018, Energy Transfer’s (ET) outside auditors discovered that Springer indicated welds on the pipeline were properly X-rayed when they had not been. ET reported their findings to regulatory authorities and Springer was fired. The stretch of the pipeline under scrutiny had already been completed, but was not yet in operation. To ensure the integrity of the pipeline, Energy Transfer made sure to re-inspect all of the welds, with PHMSA oversight of course and found that they were all in compliance.

While George Alexander would like to paint a conspiracy theory that Joshua Springer took a plea deal in order to give prosecutors information on other cases involving “higher ups,” the truth of the matter is that Energy Transfer handled this unfortunate incident with haste and professionalism. The rest of us continue to live in reality while Alexander continues publishing misinformation to fit his own agenda.

Sunoco Defeats the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Recent Lawsuit

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s lawsuit against Sunoco regarding the Mariner East II Pipeline has been dismissed, and rightfully so. Delaware Riverkeeper Network claimed that Sunoco violated the Clean Water Act when the company did not seek a federal permit, even though the company had already secured a nearly identical state permit. Judge Paul Diamond found their claim to “offend basic principles of fairness” and “do nothing to help protect the environment.” The Mariner East II Pipeline has endured many such frivolous lawsuits and has yet again, come out on top.

In order to fully comprehend why lawsuits like this are grounded in personal sentiment rather than legal principle it is important to understand the details of the case and judgement.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed the lawsuit claiming that Sunoco violated the Clean Water Act by not applying for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit. This permit protects companies from violating the Clean Water Act if they discharge “pollutants” through a “point source” into a body of water in the U.S.

However, under the Clean Water Act, the states themselves set water quality standards using federal criteria, anticipating a partnership between states and the Federal Government. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is therefore responsible for water quality regulation. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can distribute NPDES permits, states also have their own permit programs for discharges into waters. In lamest terms, once the EPA approves a state’s permitting program, the availability of federal NPDES permits is suspended.  This Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) exists between the Commonwealth, the EPA, and DEP.

The MOA requires that the DEP (state) provides the EPA (federal) with all draft permits, inspection notes, and all data to be shared so that the EPA can evaluate the permit in regards to the NPDES program. The Mariner East II pipeline had already undergone these inspections and had their materials submitted on a federal level through the Commonwealth’s permit program and was approved.

Sunoco did take the necessary steps to protect against any inadvertent returns by taking the DEP’s advice and applying for E&S permits. An expert witness testified that E&S permits are nearly identical to NPDES permits and that the DEP has never engaged in issuing NPDES permits to pipeline projects.

While the Delaware Riverkeeper Network claims that Sunoco discharged industrial wastes into waters without a NPDES permit, the truth is a permit would not have been required. The DEP had already determined that after Sunoco received their permits from the state, any inadvertent returns are a compliance matter and subject to the DEP’s authority. Sunoco did receive substantial penalties for noncompliance with the E&S permits.

Consequently, Judge Diamond found “imposing liability on Sunoco for failing to secure NPDES permits would offend basic principles of fairness and effect an absurd result.” Judge Diamond agrees that the pipeline has “been subject to the fullest regulation.”  This lawsuit was simply an attempt to, yet again, end construction of Mariner East II based on personal grudges held against Sunoco instead of sound legal standard.

Latest by Dragonpipe Diary: Laughable

One of the major downsides to the dawning of technology is a growing lack of fact-driven reporting and journalistic integrity. These are standards that most expect from news sources, but with the decline of professional journalism, fringe activists have had an increased opportunity to play journalist, spreading misinformation.

Dragonpipe Diary is one site that falls into this category. The site’s operator is an admitted fringe, activist whose blog falls more in the category of ideological diatribe than fact-based reporting.

In a recent blog titled, “Two of Sunoco’s favorite myths: ethane is “energy”; propane is “needed.” According to Websters Miriam Dictionary, ethane is “found in natural gas and used as a fuel.” We here at the Pennsylvania Pipeline Review do not admit to be chemists by training; however some of us have taken advanced chemistry classes. To us, “fuel” sounds like energy, but how about we ask Websters Miriam Dictionary this as well. Fuel is “a material used to produce heat or power by burning.” Can we agree that power means energy?

It appears that Websters Miriam Dictionary disagrees with Dragonpipe Diary. The facts also disagree with Dragonpipe Diary. They question whether ethane is used as a fuel source for the new Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) Fairview Plant in Cambria County. According to the company’s website, “the plant is now supplying natural gas and ethane-fueled combined-cycle electric power to more than one million Pennsylvania homes and businesses.”

And now that we have that settled, what does American Ethane say are the benefits of ethane are? “Ethane is a clean burning fuel and can be liquefied at a higher temperature, which decreases infrastructure transport costs. As a result, ethane is being looked to as a more efficient fuel source for fast growing and developing countries.”

More here from a Power Engineering article form March 24th:

The Fairview Energy Center successfully completed ethane testing and is now ready for commercial use. CPV called Fairview the only power plant of its scale globally to have ethane blending with natural gas.

Using GE’s DLN2.6+ AFS combustion system, CPV reported, Fairview can use ethane for enhanced plant economics such as when the price of natural gas might increase.  CPV completed the $1 billion, 1,050-MW Fairview project in Johnstown, PA., late last year.

“We are proud to announce the completion of commissioning with 25 percent ethane mixed with natural gas at our Fairview Energy Center, making it the first plant of its kind as well as one of the most efficient combined-cycle power plants in the world,” said Gary Lambert, CEO of CPV. “CPV’s continual deployment of cutting-edge technology has propelled us to the forefront of the competitive power industry in clean, efficient as well as renewable generation. We are grateful to chart this course alongside our partner GE as we continue to build upon our longstanding, prosperous relationship.”

The Fairview Energy Center utilizes GE equipment, including turbines, generators, combustion and software systems. Kiewit was the main construction contractor.

“GE’s innovative combustion technology at CPV Fairview enables industry-first levels of ethane fuel flexibility and greater efficiency,” said Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Gas Power. “We are proud to work with CPV to help provide highly efficient, reliable and affordable electricity for their customers across the region.”

And who supplies the ethane to CPV Fairview? Mariner East is according to many articles in Cambria County papers such as this OpEd by former Congressman Charlie Melancon from January in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat. Melancon toured the facility during construction.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “slightly more than half of Pennsylvania households use natural gas as their primary heating fuel.”

What the diarist doesn’t want to discuss with his readership is not only propane absolutely necessary in Pennsylvania, the larger issue as it pertains to Mariner East, is what is his alternative plan for transporting propane to consumers. He fails to understand the countless propane uses and lacks an ability to face reality that propane is absolutely needed right now.

Last fall there were many in the agricultural sector raising alarm over the low propane supply across the country to dry crops. There was even a House Agricultural Committee letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to increase propane supply. Last we checked, Pennsylvania is an agricultural state. We have access to these products, but would prefer that the transportation by more dangerous modes such as truck and rail are minimized. Pipeline is the safest way to transport these products according to the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Additionally, the diarist prefers to sidestep the countless propane uses. A quick search online took us to the Home Advisor website where they list the number of home propane uses. The top one is, “Heating Your Home or Office.”

Last June, Thom Ferro, owner for Ferro Fuel, which transports a variety of fuels to homes in businesses in Southeast Pennsylvania said this in an OpEd that ran in the Delco Times:

Mariner East and the revitalization of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex is huge for my business as a transport operator for a variety of fuels such as propane to local residents in Southeast Pennsylvania. Some have tried to act like mariner East provides zero local benefit, which couldn’t be further from the truth. My employees visit Marcus Hook daily to fill up with products shipped by Mariner East and deliver those fuels to local residential customers.

There is a lot of misinformation spread about the Mariner East and Marcus Hook projects. Misinformation that must be called out. Having an opinion or having a certain ideology is and forever will be a very positive thing. We just wish that those opinions are backed up by facts instead of baseless rhetoric.

Opinion Piece in the Unionville Times Misses the Point on Mariner East Construction

Recently, an opinion piece was published in the Unionville Times regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to allow construction on Mariner East to continue. The author and editor, Mike McGann, refuses to acknowledge that he, along with all Pennsylvanians, continue to be the beneficiaries of economic stimulation that energy infrastructure enables throughout the state. Gov. Wolf’s decision to allow construction is keeping that stimulation alive during a time of economic uncertainty.

McGann claims to be concerned that workers will not practice social distancing if on the job, but just like grocery stores and other essential businesses remain open under that stipulate, the same is possible with construction. He goes as far as providing pictures of construction workers but no proof of where they are even obtained from, not a street sign or pipeline in sight. In addition to that, if these workers are even working on Mariner East, they seem to be complying with the 6 ft. distancing rule and are wearing the appropriate protective gear.

McGann fails to acknowledge the fact that energy resources are still needed during a quarantine. As widely reported, Mariner East transports critical propane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale. A large number of Pennsylvanian’s depend on these resources for home heat and electricity, service that would be lost without the continued infrastructure development.

Mariner East has already suffered significant delays due to frivolous lawsuits and the timing of this pandemic could not have been worse. Hard working union members were finally able to continue construction after a recent DEP permit bar was lifted, only to get halted again by COVID-19. Gov. Wolf’s intentions were not to spread the illness, but to allow those who could continue to work safely under the given circumstances, not to lose their jobs again. It is apparent McGann would rather see more of PA’s population unemployed and struggling to survive, than admit the need to complete Mariner East.

Different Times, Same Angry Opponents

Anti-pipeliners just can’t bring themselves to rise above an international crisis. Their hatred for business, especially industries tasked with providing citizens critical resources to sustain daily life during the ongoing Coronavirus, pervades.

Who are they? A fringe environmental group with a long history of civil disobedience, a backbench state sentator who generates more paper with ludicrous press statements than legislation passed, and a blogger. As usual, they’re all apoplectic that Pennsylvanian’s want to work.

Last week, Jim Snell for the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 420 released the following statement in response to State Senator Andy Dinniman’s request for regulators to shut down Mariner East construction.

“The health and safety of our workers is paramount — always. It is part of our culture as highly skilled laborers, and it is something we take seriously at every job site, because we want all of our workers to get home safely after their shifts end. Contrary to the senator’s claim, Gov. Tom Wolf has declared ongoing construction as essential work. That means our hardworking men and women are on the frontline. Although much of our work is spread across large areas rather than confined to small spaces, enhancing social distancing practices, our workers are taking every recommended precaution. Local 420 continues to monitor the situation, relying on state and federal updates, while employing the most effective measures to protect the health and safety of our men and women and the communities where we work.”

On Thursday, as has been widely reported, Governor Wolf did in fact shut down most all construction activities across the commonwealth. As is always the case, there must be exceptions to such an order. Exceptions for work that provides vital resources for citizens. Resources such as electricity and home heat. Contrary to what some anti-pipeliners might believe, these products are in fact declared life-sustaining. Without electricity, hospitals can’t function, drugstores would close.

As the West Chester Daily Local reported yesterday, Mariner East’s operator is working with the Governor’s office to ensure that they are doing what they can at this time of uncertainty while also adhering to the shutdown order. At this time, crews are on sites to ensure they are secure, maintained, and stable.

While special interests opposed to energy production and the safe transport of these resources to homes, hospitals, and other businesses, Energy Transfer is working tirelessly to do what they can to ensure that no homes lose electricity and hospitals are open for business. 

Another LTE in the DelCo Times Ignores the Facts

Another LTE published in the DelCo Times insists that pipeline infrastructure in Pennsylvania is the end all be all, ignoring the fact that the energy sector employs Pennsylvanians, significantly reduces CO2 emissions, and provides viable access to efficient energy.

In his LTE, Daniel Fernandez, suggests that Pennsylvania should switch to solar and wind energy in order to eliminate emissions. Fernandez refuses to acknowledge the eradication of the economic benefits Pennsylvania reaps due to the energy sector and how that would affect the entire state. He also fails to cope with realities related to energy demand. Renewables currently make up around 17% of the energy mix and without development of new technologies can’t yet produce adequate energy to meet demand (EIA.org). Not to mention, because renewables are less efficient, the cost of energy itself would increase.  Renewable energies might be virtually inexhaustible but are limited in the amount of energy that is available per unit of time (EIA.gov).

At the very least, natural gas must be a bridge fuel that is utilized until the deficiencies of renewables can be overcome. With that being said, we must have adequate energy infrastructure to ensure the safe, efficient, and reliable transport of these resources.

It’s lights out if we do not acknowledge reality with regard to energy.