PA DEP Gives ME2 Pipe OK to Restart Construction Near Philly

Work on the Mariner East 2 and 2x pipelines in West Whiteland Township, Chester County (near Philadelphia) stopped in May following a Public Utility Commission (PUC) administrative law judge’s highly questionable ruling (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The PUC overruled the judge in early August, allowing most work to restart in West Whiteland–in all but four locations (see PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). The remaining four locations involve underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work that has led to sinkholes. Yesterday the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection announced they have reviewed two of the four remaining locations and say revised plans submitted by Sunoco Logistics Partners (the builder) look good to them. That is, Sunoco can restart construction in those two locations as soon as the PUC gives them the go-ahead. The DEP is now reviewing the final two locations. Seems as if we’re fighting for every single inch to finish this project…
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Sunoco Fined $148K for ME2 Drilling that Fouled PA Water Wells

At various points over the past year or so, Sunoco Logistics, in using underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project, has negatively affected some private water wells. A dozen private wells were affected by ME2 work in West Whiteland Township, in Chester County, last summer (see Sunoco LP’s Generous Deal to Chester Co. Residents with Water Issues). Sunoco made the situation right in West Whiteland, paying to extend a local municipal water line to the affected homes. But West Whiteland wasn’t the only location. There were others, in Berks County and Lebanon County. To the best of our knowledge, all of the water well issues have been corrected. But as always happens with these incidents, companies like Sunoco must pay twice. They pay (handsomely) to fix the issue–as they should. But then they pay a fine to the state. The fine for fouling water wells in three counties related to ME2 work was handed down yesterday by the Dept. of Environmental Protection. Sunoco has to pay $148,000 for violating PA’s Clean Streams Law and Dam Safety and Encroachment Act…
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Mariner East 2 Pipeline 99% Done, Online in ~2 Months

With all of the negative news stories from mainstream media in Pennsylvania regarding the Mariner East 2 (ME2) Pipeline project, and the seemingly endless challenges by Philadelphia politicians in bed with Big Green groups to try and block the project, here’s a couple of facts to warm your heart, and give antis heartburn: (1) ME2 is now 99% done; (2) ME2 will most likely go online in the next two months–by the end of 3Q18. There will still be a few small areas where ME2 proper is not online in two months–locations near Philadelphia where there have been sinkhole problems. But Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer), the builder, has a workaround–repurposing an out-of-service pipeline for a few months…
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Mariner East 2 Pipeline Protester Sentenced 2-6 Months in Jail

Huntingdon County, PA landowner Ellen Gerhart, adamantly opposed to the Mariner East 2 pipeline being constructed across her land, had her day in court on Friday. Gerhart, as we recently reported, was accused of violating a 2017 court order preventing her from interfering with ME2 construction on her property. It was alleged that she continued to do so anyway, against a judge’s order, and on Friday, July 27 she was arrested and jailed (see Central PA Landowner Arrested, Jailed for Violating ME2 Court Order). A week later, on Friday, Aug. 3, Gerhart stood before the judge as evidence was presented (videos and testimony from pipeline workers) that showed Gerhart had indeed violated the order. So the judge sentenced her from two to six months in prison, plus a $2,000 fine. Which is sad, but necessary. We (still, so far) live in a society where flagrant violation of the law is punished. The judge said she caused a hazard for pipeline workers…
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PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) yesterday voted 3-2 to allow construction to resume on the Mariner East 2 and 2x pipelines in West Whiteland Township, Chester County (near Philadelphia), ending a weeks-long stoppage specific only to that area. The shutdown began in May after a PUC administrative law judge’s highly questionable ruling, which affected ME1, ME2 and ME2x (see Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). After an initial three-week shutdown, the PUC voted in June to approve the restart of ME1 (see PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service). It was the second time in a little more than a month that the PUC voted to restart the line after finding it poses no risk. Work in West Whiteland Township for ME2 has been paused since the administrative law judge’s May ruling. With the PUC’s action yesterday, Sunoco can resume work on the project in Chester County. Although they can’t resume work on all of it. The vote yesterday does not lift the construction ban on four locations in West Whiteland waiting for new/revised permits from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Still, this is a big positive, and a major blow to antis who are not happy…
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ME2 Landowner/Protester Admits to Some of Her Crimes, $25K Bail

Yesterday we told you that a Pennsylvania landowner from Huntingdon County, PA, Ellen Gerhart, was arrested on Friday for violating a court order to not interfere with Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline work being done on her property (see Central PA Landowner Arrested, Jailed for Violating ME2 Court Order). Although Gerhart is due for a hearing before a judge on Friday, there was a preliminary hearing yesterday. Gerhart “attended” by video conference because she’s being held in a neighboring county jail (Huntingdon doesn’t have facilities to house female prisoners). Under questioning, Gerhart admitted her actions were intended “to annoy and harass” ME2 workers by her actions. What were those actions? She admitted placing meat close to the construction site in order to attract bears. She also admitted setting small fires in bottles/cans, hinting to workers that they might explode (like a Molotov cocktail). She remains in jail, for now. Yesterday the judge set bail at $25,000…
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Enviro Groups Back Down on Challenging DEP Permits for ME2 Pipe

An interesting development on Friday, when the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a press release to announced that three radical environmental groups have dropped their objections to permits the DEP previously granted for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline. Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association, and THE Delaware Riverkeeper “settled” their appeal of 20 permits issued to Sunoco for the ME2 project. What does it mean that they “settled?” According to the announcement, “The settlement does not alter any of the 20 permits in the appeal.” In other words, this is face-saving by the radical groups. They backed down. Gave up. Threw in the towel–recognizing that ME2 is about to be completed. In other words, they’ve lost. And we won! We love saying that. No matter how hard the radicals tried to spin the news (via their affiliated mouthpieces, like StateImpact Pennsylvania), you simply can’t gloss over the fact that they’ve backed down…
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Central PA Landowner Arrested, Jailed for Violating ME2 Court Order

For the past two years the Gerhart family has used illegal protest tactics to stall tree cutting on their property in Huntingdon County, PA, to block construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) Pipeline. Out-of-state Big Green radicals, along with the Gearharts’ own daughter, lived on-and-off in the tops of three white pine trees, building magic tree houses so they can lay around and pretend they’re saving the planet. The tree occupation prevented Sunoco Logistics Partners from cutting the trees, which are in the path of the ME2 project. Then, at daybreak on Sunday, April 8th, after observing the protesters had left the night before scared of impending high winds, Sunoco snuck in and cut down the trees, much to the consternation of the Gerharts who called it a “underhanded and cowardly attack.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called it a “predawn timbering raid” (see ME2 Pipeline Cuts Down PA Trees Vacated by Protesters). Funny! We mention all that as background because the mama Gerhart has landed herself in jail. Sunoco said that Ellen Gerhart violated a standing court order to not interfere with work happening on her land for the pipeline. So police arrested and jailed her last Friday, without bond, until a hearing date on Aug. 3 (a week later). What did Mrs. Gerhart do to end up in the slammer?…
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Speaker Didn’t Tell Middletown Pipe Antis What They Wanted to Hear

Anti fossil fuel radicals continue to try and stir up opposition to the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project near Philadelphia. Local supervisors in Middletown (Delaware County, PA) walk a tightrope between a desire to protect area residents and anti groups fomenting irrational fears. The Board of Supervisors hired a consultant to advise them on potential safety issues with ME1 & 2. Monday night the supervisors held a public meeting to allow residents to hear from and ask questions of the consultant. The consultant, to his credit, maintained his objectivity. He’s not for or against pipelines–he’s looking at safety issues and discussing realistic scenarios. His responses to some of the questions were not what antis in the crowd wanted to hear. They wanted him to feed their fear-mongering (and false) beliefs. The consultant refused to do so. We found one bit of news from the session highly instructive. There is an anti group calling itself Middletown Coalition for Public Safety. The group presents itself as a “nonpartisan grassroots group of parents and residents whose goal is to educate elected officials and the public regarding the risks associated with the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline.” It is the exact opposite. Rabidly partisan (Democrat). And not composed of residents. The people who belong to the group, at least its leaders, aren’t from Middletown! At the Monday meeting one of their members, Eric Friedman, was not allowed to question the consultant because he doesn’t live in Middletown. What does that tell you about how these “grassroots” groups are operated and funded?…
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ME2 Pipe Antis Politely & Completely Skewered at PA House Hearing

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania State Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Delaware) hosted a House Republican Policy Committee meeting at the Penn State Brandywine Campus (Delaware County) to discuss pipeline safety, construction and siting issues in Chester and Delaware counties. The real aim of the session was to focus on Sunoco Logistics Partners’ Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project–a state-regulated project not under the purview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Eve Miari of the Clean Air Council and Virginia Marcille-Kerslake from West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety were there to provide an overview of concerns by “the community” with siting and building ME2. MDN friend Garland Thompson, a contributing editor for US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazine, attended the session and wrote a report (below). As usual, Garland does a terrific job in capturing the key points of what was discussed. Spoiler alert: While Garland found Miari and Marcille-Kerslake’s testimony heart-felt, their allegations that nobody was/is in charge of siting a project like ME2, and that Sunoco is not being “transparent” in their building of ME2, were skewered, point by point by point. Here is clear, honest, accurate reporting you won’t get anywhere else…
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Philly Antis Commission Faux “Risk Study” Targeting ME2 Pipeline

Unhappy that local and state political leaders refuse to shut down the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project, a small group of anti-fossil fuelers from the Philadelphia area are coughing up $50,000 of Big Green (likely Tom Steyer’s) money to fund a biased “study” that will say ME2 is too risky. Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, working with East Goshen Safety and Environmental Advocates, has hired Quest Consultants–a company that sells itself to the highest bidder. The funny thing is, the same company (Quest Consultants) did virtually the same report for the same region last year, charging the Middletown Coalition $45,000 (see Report by Philly Antis Proves Mariner East 2 Pipeline is Safe). Why even bother with the pretense? The end result is already written (just look at last year’s report). You always get what you pay for, and this is paid for by antis. This new “report” is not about hard science but about political science. It’s about scientific hucksterism. It’s about paying $50K so you can wave a report around and make a baseless claim to new “facts” (that aren’t facts at all). It’s just more of the same from the same people…
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Misguided Philly Moms Arrested for Illegal ME2 Pipeline Protest

Last week two young mothers, no doubt radicalized by watching Captain Planet cartoons when they were growing up, sat themselves down in front of construction equipment in Middletown, PA (Delaware County, near Philadelphia) in an attempt to block construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline. The two, along with a handful of other mothers (and grandmothers) call themselves the “Mama Bear Brigade.” They held a “Teddy Bear Picnic” at the construction site, and sang children’s songs with new non-children lyrics. The “mama bears” have decided our nation’s laws no longer apply to them if they don’t happen to like the law, so they elected to take the law into their own hands. Frankly, they’re just a handful of misguided and misinformed moms who believe the pipeline will explode and kill everyone living in “the blast zone.” What’s funny about the story are the comments. One commenter said this: “Why do liberal losers always give themselves stupid nicknames…Lock them up and build the pipeline!” There were other comments we can’t repeat here since we’re a family-friendly blog. Here’s the story of some misguided moms who believe they’re protecting their kids by breaking the law…
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Sunoco Seeks to Use Alternate Pipe Near Philly to Get ME2 Flowing

Years ago when Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Partners) originally proposed and planned the Mariner East 2 twin pipelines from the edge of eastern Ohio through the entire length of Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia, the completion date promised was the end of 2016. Little could Sunoco foresee the multiple lawsuits, regulatory hearings and illegal protest actions that would conspire to throw the project off schedule for more than a year and half. When pipeline companies plan such multi-billion dollar projects, they first get customers (drillers) to sign on the dotted line, guaranteeing there will be enough product (and revenue) to make the project worthwhile. Drillers *did* sign on the dotted line, and they’re still waiting. Waiting and now pressuring Sunoco to get the darned thing up and running. The pipeline itself is 98% complete–in the ground and connected. But an all-important 2% is still not complete, most of it in the Philly suburbs–Delaware and Chester counties. Sunoco continues to have problems with underground horizontal directional drilling and with ongoing litigation by towns in the Philly area. What to do, with customers breathing down your back? Sunoco has come up with an ingenious solution that is sure to send the crazies into orbit. Sunoco is asking the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for permission to use part of an existing 12-inch pipeline in that area that previously carried refined petroleum products (things like gasoline, heating oil, and jet fuel), repurposing the pipeline to carry NGLs (ethane, propane, butane, etc.). This is only a short-term fix until the last bits of the full ME2 is up and running…
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Another ME2 Mud Spill at Snitz Creek, Another Hysterical Reaction

Sunoco Logistics Partners was drilling horizontally underneath Snitz Creek in Lebanon County, PA for its Mariner East 2 Pipeline project when it experienced yet another “inadvertent return”–nontoxic drilling mud leaking out of a place where it shouldn’t. Sunoco spilled five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud. This is the third time it’s happened in June, and the sixth time it’s happened at the Snitz Creek location in total. Predictably, antis were hysterical. Hysterical, not as in funny, but hysterical as an insane, out-of-control overreaction. Theatrics. Drama. That kind of hysterical. The reaction from antis is organized by “green” groups–in particular by one person from a local green group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County. Five gallons of nontoxic drilling mud (the same stuff used to make kitty litter and lipstick) is, quite literally, NOTHING. We’ve seen 5 gallon spills of very toxic gasoline at the local gas station that went unnoticed. Gasoline is far more “toxic” to the environment than what’s happening at Snitz Creek. Why do drilling mud spills keep happening at the Snitz Creek location? Obviously the ground in that area is porous. Every time Sunoco drills under the creek another few feet, drilling mud pops out and drilling activity gets shut down, yet again. This is a recurring situation. We don’t know what the solution is, but not building the pipeline (which is 99% done) is not one of the options. Hopefully Sunoco can find a solution quickly so we can put this ongoing, manufactured, and tiresome drama queen theatrics behind us…
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Dela. Riverkeeper Pressures DRBC to Revoke ME2 Pipe Permit

Here’s the latest strategy in THE Delaware Riverkeeper’s ongoing war against fossil fuels, and against natural gas pipelines in particular: Pressure the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to revoke a permit granted by the agency to the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project on the flimsy basis that ME2 has “violated” the conditions of the permit. Frankly, we didn’t even know the DRBC had issued a permit for ME2. After all, ME2 is a state-permitted project and does not come under federal authority. We doubt the DRBC has legal authority to issue a permit for the project–but if no one challenges them, their authority stands. ME2 probably thought it easier to just get the permit and not squabble over it. According to Big Green mouthpiece PBS StateImpact Pennsylvania, the DRBC is actually considering Riverkeeper’s request. The problem with this latest strategy by Riverkeeper is that DRBC’s executive director, Steve Tambini, is so weak, he may fold like a cheap deck of cards and actually do it. Tambini, who has been a major disappointment since taking over from the ultra-leftist Carol Collier, seems happy to take his marching orders from Riverkeeper. We have to wonder if this latest strategy will bear fruit. A scary proposition. But Riverkeeper isn’t content to try and scuttle ME2 by pressuring the weak DRBC as its only strategy. Last week the DRBC filed a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against the ME2 project in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, meant to stop the project by court order…
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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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