Attorney Says Sunoco Should Seek FERC Approval for Mariner East

A Pittsburgh attorney, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, weighs in on the complex issue of whether or not Sunoco Logistics is a public utility corporation under Pennsylvania’s definition with the right to use eminent domain to force landowners in Washington and Westmoreland counties to allow Sunoco to lay pipeline under their land. The pipeline in question, as we previously wrote about, is the Mariner East ethane pipeline. Sunoco needs to lay 50 miles of pipeline in western PA. Most of the Mariner East pipeline already exists (being repurposed) and stretches from western PA all the way to Philadelphia and the Marcus Hook refinery. Sunoco still needs to build 31 compressor stations along the pipeline’s route as it crosses PA (see More Pushback from PA Residents on Proposed Mariner East Pipeline).

Sunoco is facing a plethora of lawsuits and filings to counter their request to be declared a public utility corporation (not to be confused with being a public utility proper). Pittsburgh attorney William P. Bresnahan II says that Sunoco likely is a public utility based on a definition by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He hints that if Sunoco plays their cards right–by which he means seeking and getting FERC approval for the Mariner East project–Sunoco will put to rest endless local lawsuits. However, getting FERC’s buy-in is not an easy matter…

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