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.

FACT CHECK: George Alexander’s Guest Column in the Delco Times Spews Unsourced and False Claims

FACT CHECK: George Alexander’s Guest Column in the Delco Times Spews Unsourced and False Claims

Over the weekend, the Delco Times decided to publish an OpEd by George Alexander that calls out an OpEd written by Earl Baker, spewing false and inaccurate information. Not only does Alexander attempt to combat the facts Baker provides in his OpEd, but he does so without any proof. The anti-pipeline blogger fails to provide a single source for his statements and misinforming the public is a dangerous way to gain followers.

Below are statements from Alexander’s piece that are erroneous, accompanied by sourced facts that tell the REAL story. It is apparent that George Alexander prefers to warp information to scare Pennsylvanians into being threatened by pipeline infrastructure, rather than educate the public with the facts.

  • FALSE STATEMENT: “Mariner East has almost nothing to do with energy.”
  • TRUTH: The Mariner East pipeline carries propane, ethane, and butane, which are used for home heating and various industrial uses (EIA.gov). In 2018, Pennsylvania ranked second in the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power, which supplied 39% of the state’s net generation. Half of Pennsylvania households use natural gas as their primary home heating fuel. From 2010 to 2018, PA’s share of electricity generated from natural gas more than doubled. (EIA.gov)

  • FALSE STATEMENT: “Over 90% of the material it carries is shipped overseas to make single-use plastic.”
  • TRUTH: It would be nice to know where Mr. Alexander gets his information because it’s not accurate. According to employees at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, around 80-100, 9,000 gallon trucks pick up propane daily at Marcus Hook, which equals 720,000 gallons or 17,142 barrels. Mariner East 1 carries 70,000 barrels a day, which means that 24% of the resources transported on this pipeline are for not just domestic, but local use (Edgemont.org). And Marcus Hook is just one of the off-takes on this pipeline.

  • FALSE STATMENT: “Mariner East, which carries no natural gas at all and operates at pressures far higher than those of natural gas pipelines.” & “Liquefied gas is far more volatile than natural gas.”
  • TRUTH: Mariner East carries natural gas but in their liquid form or natural gas liquids (NGLs). NGLs are hydrocarbons (the same family of molecules as natural gas) but composed exclusively of carbon and hydrogen (EIA.gov). A pipelines’ allowance of operational pressure depends upon the construct of the pipeline and the materials it carries. While liquefied gases are more volatile because they require high pressures and low temperatures for transportation, the pipelines that transport them are designed to account for those changes. According to PHSMA, certain pipelines are allowed to operate at higher pressures if certain conditions are met that ensure safety. Allowing pipelines to operate at higher pressures leads to greater efficiencies and gas product throughput. (PHSMA.dot.gov).

  • FALSE STATEMENT: “CPV Fairview will never actually use ethane from Mariner East.”
  • TRUTH: Mariner East pipelines are located on site at CPV Fairview and are clearly listed as a fuel source of ethane (CPV.com).

  • FALSE STATEMENT: “These materials present the risk of a rupture and explosion that could kill hundreds of people in Delaware and Chester counties, as multiple studies of Mariner East risk have shown.”
  • TRUTH: Throughout the Mariner East’s construction, multiple risk assessments were conducted. In fact, Alexander helped coordinate the “Citizens Risk Assessment” commissioned by a coalition that paid Quest Consultants to study the impact the pipeline could have in the case of an emergency. That report stated, “that a person is 20 times more likely 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…” (Delco Times).

George Alexander’s strategy to frighten Pennsylvanians about the risk associated with Mariner East is not based on factual evidence. Mariner East is not about risk, it is about providing Pennsylvania the infrastructure needed to transport the Commonwealth’s naturally flowing resources and enabling it to prosper. 

Fearmongering is Unfair to Pennsylvanians Everywhere

In a recent editorial published by the Delco Times, the author follows other anti-pipeline activist rhetoric to instill fear among Pennsylvanians regarding the Mariner East pipeline while blatantly ignoring the facts. Pennsylvania has been safely operating pipelines for decades. Threatening residents with a “what if?” situation is a desperate attempt to defend a position that is unwarranted.

When it comes to the Mariner East pipeline system, Energy Transfer has worked in cooperation with state and local governments to ensure public safety. They have trained 2,027 emergency officials, public officials and excavators, 2,018 first responders and have held 22 meetings for 44 schools from 2017 to 2019 alone. 

In addition to this preparation, the actual pipeline system itself is built to be proactive. Every step of construction is prefaced with intense regulations and review with both state and federal agencies that must sign off on the project. On the construction front, Energy Transfer has instituted state of the art technologies that include control room monitoring, automatic shut off values, and regular line inspections.

The author also chooses to ignore the fact that multiple risk assessments have been performed on the pipeline. Although a risk assessment was required and shared with regulators for approval by law, the Delaware County Council chose to spend over $100,000 of taxpayer dollars to conduct their own in 2018. The study told us what we already knew. As Kathleen Carey reported, “…a person is 20 times more likely 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…”

Mariner East exceeds federal pipeline safety regulations, but anti-pipeline activists would rather unfairly scare Pennsylvanians into only seeing their side rather than inform the public with facts. “What ifs” can apply and intimidate you out of doing almost any activity throughout your day. However, preparation is the key to ensuring those “what if” occurrences remain at bay. Mariner East has gone above and beyond ensuring the public’s safety and it is time for anti-pipeline activists to recognize the realities of pipeline safety. 

Recent News Story Leaves Out Much of the Story

Sometimes the local media can’t help themselves in adding fuel to a fire instigated by local fear mongers in Southeast Pennsylvania. Personal and community safety is always top of mind, but sometimes the local media seems to push a narrative that inflames worry in local residents.

Yesterday, the Delco Times ran a story in an attempt to raise concern about the Mariner East pipeline. The story highlights comments by Delaware County Emergency Services Director, Tim Boyce as part of an “ongoing formal complaint filed with the PUC” by Michael Bomstein, a serial pipeline opponent. Just a piece of the story was included.

For starters, the energy industry is nothing new to Southeast Pennsylvania. Pipelines have run through the area for over a century, safely delivering energy resources to area refineries and processing facilities. These pipelines existed long before many of these residents even moved into their houses.

Pipelines are the safest way to transport energy resources according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Unlike what Representative Danielle Friel Otten seems to believe, if these products aren’t transported by pipeline, alternative transportation such as truck or rail will have to be utilized. This means increased rail and truck traffic through our communities as opposed to safe transport underground. Do you think we have traffic problems now? What would 750 tanker trucks on our roadways each day do to the traffic problem?

Pipelines are 4.5 times safer than transport by rail, which has a higher safety rating than transport by truck. Pipelines deliver product safely at a rate of 99.999%.

These facts are simply glazed over by many of the doomsdayers. Although a risk assessment had been done and shared with regulators, as required by law, the Delaware County Council used over $100,000 of taxpayer dollars to conduct their own risk assessment in 2018, which told us what we already knew. As Kathleen Carey reported in November of 2018, “the report stated that a person is 20 times more likely 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…”

Michael Bomstein is in the business of opposing this pipeline and has been quite successful finding clients. While he appears to be confident in his convictions, he has yet to find a judge that has ruled in his favor. His lack of success in the courtroom does not preclude him from continuing to push rhetoric intended to incite worry and fear in local residents, which is an interesting marketing strategy at the very least.

Mariner East is a legally permitted project and a pipeline safety expert found that the “pipeline…exceeds federal pipeline safety regulations.” Facts matter and should always be given higher credence than innuendo.

Pipeline opponents will undoubtedly continue in their opposition. Just wish they would make arguments based on facts as opposed to conspiracy.

Delaware Riverkeeper Uses Scare Tactics with NJ Residents and Ignores the Facts

This past Friday, pipeline opposition group, the Delaware Riverkeeper, tried to incite fear among NJ residents regarding the plans for an LNG storage facility on the Delaware River in Glouchester County. Riverkeeper, along with Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch, used fear tactics, telling residents how the facility would be bad for the environment, was at risk of exploding, and how the facility would disturb the river and their homes.

However, this is completely false as the purpose and construction of this facility will do nothing of the sort. The facility is meant to simply store LNGs and provide a place for products to be transported onto ships. These groups falsely made the facility out to be one that manufactured LNG and that is simply untrue.

The real concern behind this facility is that Pennsylvania is still lacking adequate pipeline infrastructure to transport LNGs safely. Materials will be transported to the Delaware River facility using rail instead of pipelines. Pipelines are actually four times safer for transportation of LNGs compared to truck and rail. However, Delaware Riverkeeper likes to ignore the facts and takes a stand against pipeline infrastructure as well.

Instead of opposing everything and spewing false information, the Delaware Riverkeeper should focus on finding something they can stand FOR. Pipeline infrastructure is the safest mode of transportation and has brought significant economic prosperity to Pennsylvania while lowering energy cost for PA’s citizens. New Jersey residents should not be frightened by the energy sector, but welcome it and the benefits that come along with it to their state.

Minott & the Clean Air Council Continue to Disregard the Facts

In an opinion piece published by the Altoon Mirror this morning, Joseph Otis Minott, executive director and chief counsel of Clean Air Council, disregards the facts about Pennsylvania’s energy infrastructure and the Mariner East project. This pipeline infrastructure project is legally permitted and thoroughly regulated, period.

In his article, Minott calls on the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Governor Wolf to “take a more comprehensive approach” to regulating the infrastructure project. However, due to the amount of anti-pipeline activist complaints and lawsuit filings, Mariner East has undergone multiple delays due to sensibible regulatory oversight, but also due to frivolous lawsuits funded by groups like the Clean Air Council. In fact, according to the DEP themselves, “the permits were among the most stringent the department has ever issued for this type of construction activity.”

In addition, Governor Wolf and the DEP continue to hold the project accountable. Since its inception, Sunoco Logistics/Energy Transfer has agreed to pay over $40 million in fines. To say that Governor Wolf and the DEP have not provided strict regulatory oversight is completely disingenuous and out of touch with reality.

Minott also claims that the Mariner East project has no regard for the environment or residents in the area. Transporting these resources via pipeline infrastructure is actually four times safer than that of rail or truck. Sunoco/Energy Transfer’s investment in the state is actually keeping these liquids off the roads and railways, where they are more likely to endanger the public. The company also committed to ensuring the construction is done in the most environmentally safe way possible. Energy Transfer holds themselves responsible for returning land to its original state or better. However, the constant interruptions and regulatory burdens not only delay construction, but also delay restoration.

Minott and representatives of the Clean Air Council would rather flip the switch on energy all together when in reality pipeline infrastructure makes energy more affordable across the state and employs thousands of local union members. They continue to stand against the positive economic benefits the industry creates in Pennsylvania, and in that, hurt residents statewide.

SEPA Resident Conflates Nuke War and Commonwealth’s Energy Infrastructure

Recently a Southeast Pennsylvania newspaper publishing scantly factual, unrealistic, and outlandish guest columns. The latest to grace the pages of the paper come courtesy of Ken Hemphill of Concord Township.

Hemphill makes his case against the state’s energy infrastructure industry, namely the Mariner East pipeline system, by conflating the dangers of pipelines with none other than…Cold War nuclear threats.

He writes “Dying in a pipeline explosion today seems a lot less likely than perishing in a nuclear blast at the height of the Cold War – but it’s no less absurd.”

To clarify, it is absurd to liken a sophisticated natural resource delivery system to a decades-long, deadly national security crisis.

In fact the Commonwealth’s investment and development of its energy industry has benefitted natural security efforts by cutting the United States’ reliance on foreign energy resources, particularly with Cold War perpetrators like Russia.

Additionally, as Fiona Hill recently testified on the Hill that Russia is actively engaged in the US, pushing anti-domestic energy messaging, which Mr. Hemphill’s message likely just propels.

Pipeline systems like Mariner East 1 and 2 displace transport methods like truck and rail.

Ken Hemphill’s column is a prime example of the fearmongering anti-infrastructure activists have relied on, completely ignoring facts and reality to make their case. Rhetoric like Hemphill’s is devoid of fact and long on extreme fear mongering. The reality is a strong energy industry that can safely deliver resources to consumers is a positive for Pennsylvania economy and the country’s national security.

Local Blogger Cherry Picks Facts

DragonPipe Diary – an anti-pipeline Pennsylvania blogger writing about the Mariner East project – recently wrote a post taking great liberty of pipeline and legal knowledge to make the case that the Mariner East 1 pipeline has falsely used ‘public utility status’ for eminent domain claims.

George Alexander, author behind the blog, largely ignores the numerous court rulings in favor of the Mariner East 1 and 2 projects. These casing include those heard before the Public Utility Commission, Commonwealth Court, and regulators like the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Energy infrastructure antis, like George Alexander and the ‘Safety Seven,’ instead rely on throwing as many litigating tactics they cane at the wall in hopes of something sticking. So far, no luck.

These projects have been rigorously reviewed under federal and state standards.

Court victories to date:

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.