PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service

As MDN predicted, yesterday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) voted to overturn a previous action by liberal administrative law judge, Elizabeth Barnes, to shut down the Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). ME1 is back up and running. All five PUC members supported returning ME1 back to service. However, three of the five PUC members agreed with Judge Barnes’ decision to temporarily shut down work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in West Whiteland Township (Chester County). Two of the five PUC members wanted all of Barnes’ ruling to be overturned. The reporting on this is somewhat confusing. PUC Chairwoman Gladys Brown put forward a motion to (a) turn ME1 back on, and (b) keep ME2 in West Whiteland stopped, for now, pending more information from Sunoco Logistics. The vote was 3-2 in favor of Brown’s motion. The 2 voting against it did so because it didn’t go far enough (they wanted ME2 construction to resume). So although the vote was 3-2, all 5 of the members wanted ME1 back on. That’s the real nub of the news–the subtlety that’s missed in most media reports. The 3-2 “split decision” that’s being reported is the decision to overrule Barnes on ME1, but keep her ruling intact (for now) on ME2. The PUC has ordered Sunoco to provide more information in the next 20 days: inspection and testing protocols, emergency response plans, and copies of safety training curriculum for employees and contractors. The PUC will then reconsider whether or not to allow ME2 work to resume in West Whiteland. But here’s the thing: Work on the rest of the 300+ mile pipeline continues everywhere else in the state–everywhere but West Whiteland. Overall, yesterday’s PUC action was a crushing defeat for PA State Sen. Andy “Tony Soprano” Dinniman (Democrat) and his Big Green cronies who want to assassinate the entire ME1 & ME2 projects by focusing on one small area…

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