Bankrupt Pipeline Contractor Leads to Liens Against PA Landowners

Ambulance-chasing lawyers for a Minnesota-based subcontractor (United Piping Inc.) have filed a lien against some of the landowners where Mariner East 2 (ME2) crosses, claiming the landowners may have to pay them because the contractor, Welded Construction, can’t. The lawyers are using a little-known law in Pennsylvania that dates to 1901 to make their claim. This is seriously screwed up. You may recall we previously told you that Williams, disputing work Welded Construction had done for them in building the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, refused to pay $23.5 million, causing Welded to declare bankruptcy (see Williams Withholds Payment Forcing Pipeline Builder into Bankruptcy). What we didn’t know, until now, is that Sunoco Logistics Partners, builder of the ME2 pipeline, also withheld payments to Welded. United Pipeline says because of Welded’s bankruptcy and failure to pay them (because Williams and Sunoco withheld payments), they (United) now have the right to go after landowners for that money. This is nuts!Continue reading

PA Supreme Court Upholds ME2 Right to Use Eminent Domain

One of the ways anti-fossil fuel groups have tried to stop the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project is by tying it up in court. Various lawsuits have been filed going back years. One litigant, a Big Green group headquartered in Philadelphia, the so-called Clean Air Council, has tried repeatedly to get the courts to deny ME2 the right to use eminent domain in cases where landowners refuse to cooperate (see Clean Air Council’s Strange War Against Mariner East Pipeline). CAC argued that ME2 is not a “public utility” and therefore not entitled to the use of eminent domain. That argument flamed out. In May, PA’s Commonwealth Court ruled that yes, ME2 is a public utility entitled to use eminent domain if it needs to (see PA Court Rules ME2 Pipe has Power of Eminent Domain, Period). CAC had one last card to play, taking the case to the PA Supreme Court. They played it, and lost.
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Open Season – for Mariner East Pipelines?!

We spotted a notice from Energy Transfer, the company building (via its Sunoco Logistics Partners unit) the Mariner East pipeline projects, that seemed odd to us. It was an open season announcement, a time when companies can “sign on the dotted line” to reserve capacity along any of the three pipelines–Mariner East 1 (ME1), Mariner East 2 (ME2), or Mariner East 2X (ME2X). ME1, a repurposed gasoline pipeline built in the 1930s, has been up and running since 2016. ME2 & 2X are due to go online any day now. ME2 and 2X (built side-by-side) are about two years behind schedule. Normally a pipeline company won’t dig one shovelful of dirt or lay an inch of pipeline until/unless customers have already signed up during an open season. And yes, all three pipelines have had open seasons and have signed-up customers eager to use them. So what’s with this new open season? We think we know.
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Mariner East Defends Itself Before Same Judge Who Once Blocked It

In May of this year, Elizabeth Barnes, an administration law judge for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), unilaterally ordered Sunoco Logistics Partners to “cease and desist all current operation, construction, including drilling activities on the Mariner East 1, 2 and Mariner East 2X pipeline” in West Whiteland Township in Chester County, PA (Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice). The judge also shut down all operations of Mariner East 1 across the entire state, ruling that she was “enjoining Respondent from operating Mariner East 1.” It was a breathtaking display of arrogance and seizure of power that does not belong to her. Barnes’ closure of ME1 and ME2 was later overturned by the full PUC (see PA PUC Overrules Lib Judge – Mariner East 1 Returns to Service and PA PUC Allows ME2 Pipeline Work to Restart Near Philly). Last week a ginned up “emergency relief petition” was aired before Barnes. Same deal. Antis want to shut down ALL of the Mariner East projects–permanently. Barnes was the judge hearing the “testimony” of the antis, along with a vigorous defense by Sunoco. Did she learn her lesson the first time?
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Energy Transfer’s Rover, ME2 Pipes Rack Up 800+ Violations

Reuters has published a “hit piece” against Energy Transfer (ET) and two of its recent big pipeline projects–Rover Pipeline (in Ohio & Michigan), and Mariner East 2 Pipeline (in Ohio and Pennsylvania). Reuters is usually more balanced than, say, Bloomberg with these types of articles. Reuters usually doesn’t go out of its way to denigrate the industry. The article evaluates the number of permit violations issued for both projects. Together that number exceeds 800. Is that a lot? Reuters says they’ve analyzed “four comparable pipeline projects” and found an average of 19 violations per project (or 38 for two projects). So yeah, 800 vs. 38 sure sounds like a lot to us.
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First Responders Ready for ME1/ME2 Emergencies, If There Are Any

Last week MDN told you about seven anti-fossil fuelers in the Philadelphia area who have filed a request with the PA Public Utility Commission requesting the PUC shut down both the Mariner East 1 pipeline, which has been flowing since 2016, and Mariner East 2 pipeline, which is about to go online any day now (see Desperation: 7 Philly Antis Ask PA PUC to Stop ME1, Block ME2). Why shut them down now? Because, the antis say, Sunoco Logistics (the builder) hasn’t done a proper job of preparing those who live near the pipelines to prepare for a rare (almost never happens) emergency. What their request, and mainstream media, doesn’t reveal is this: Sunoco formed the Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach (MERO) program years ago and has (so far) trained some 2,350 firefighters, police officers, emergency medical service providers, municipal emergency management officials, and other public safety personnel. How much more prepared can any community be? We’re delighted to bring you a guest post today responding to concerns about pipeline safety–specifically about ME1 & 2 safety.
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Desperation: 7 Philly Antis Ask PA PUC to Stop ME1, Block ME2

Seven antis from Greater Philadelphia, with money and lawyers from Big Green groups backing them, on Monday asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to shut down Mariner East 1 pipeline (which has operating for more than a year), and to block the startup of Mariner East 2 pipeline. The chutzpah of these people is breathtaking. To put it in perspective, Chester and Delaware Counties, which is where the seven antis hail from, has a combined population of 1,083,989 people (as of 2017). Seven people represents .0006% of the population. Meaning 99.999% of the population either don’t care, or are not against these pipeline projects. Both ME1 and ME2 carry natural gas liquids (NGLs)–meaning ethane and propane–from the western side of PA across the state to Delaware County and the Marcus Hook refinery. From the very beginning there have been a committed few (with the help of Big Green) fighting the ME2 project every inch of the way. They’ve thrown everything they have at it–multiple lawsuits, pleas to regulatory agencies, legislative hearings, illegal protests–you name it, they’ve done it. This latest action appears to be a last gasp, “Hail Mary” attempt at convincing a regulatory agency to stop both pipelines. Which isn’t going to happen.
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Philly Antis Furious that ME2 Pipe Going Online by Christmas

Last week MDN picked up on news shared by top management for Energy Transfer that their long-delayed Mariner East 2 pipeline system will be up and running by the end of the year (see Energy Transfer 3Q18: Mariner East 2 Pipeline Online by Christmas). In order to get the full pipeline running, they’ve had to patch together substitute pipelines in a few areas where construction of the final pipeline is stalled due to problems like sinkholes. Antis have now picked up on the fact that ME2 will be live “by Christmas” and are furiously crying foul–that they couldn’t stop the project. They claim the “patchwork” of substitute pipelines will be dangerous and unsafe. Their complaints amount to a lot of spitting and sputtering.
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Energy Transfer 3Q18: Mariner East 2 Pipeline Online by Christmas

Yesterday the muckety-mucks from Energy Transfer (ET) held a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the company’s third quarter 2018 update. Inevitably on such calls there’s talk about what’s coming up in addition to what happened in the previous quarter. ET is a big midstream (pipeline) company. Among their projects are the mighty Rover Pipeline, which reaches from Pennsylvania, West Virgina, and eastern Ohio all the way into Michigan, and the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, which runs from eastern Ohio all the way through Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area. Rover flows natural gas, ME2 (and ME2X) will flow NGLs, mainly ethane and propane. According to Tom Long, ET’s Chief Financial Officer, ME2 will be up and running sometime this quarter. Since the end of this quarter is around Christmastime, we prefer to think of ME2 as a Christmas present for Marcellus/Utica drillers.
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Mariner East 2 Pipeline Going into Service “Next Few Weeks”

There’s a series of private events held each fall, sponsored by investment banks and investment firms, that won’t allow media to attend. Supposedly the events allow companies to speak off the record (to investors and analysts) about things they’d rather not have on the public record. We think its a farce…since it keeps us out of those meetings! Inevitably, if there’s big news, it leaks out. And such is the case with news from a recent event hosted by Height Capital Markets in Washington, D.C. At the Height event, Energy Transfer (i.e. Sunoco Logistics Partners) told analysts that the Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project “will be in service as soon as it is mechanically complete, which is expected to be in the next few weeks.”
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Sham “Risk Assessment” of ME2 Pipeline Released by Philly Antis

MDN told you in July that Philadelphia antis were paying $50,000 to a “consultant” to produce a faux report that will say the Mariner East 2 (ME2) natural gas liquids pipeline is dangerous, a nightmare waiting to happen (see Philly Antis Commission Faux “Risk Study” Targeting ME2 Pipeline). Sure enough, Quest Consultants–a company that sells itself to the highest Big Green bidder–has released their “report,” and it says exactly what Big Green told them to say.
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Energy Transfer Partners & Equity Merging into One Company Today

Energy Transfer is, on paper, several different companies. Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) is the mother ship–the main holding company. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is and has been (for us) the main company, builder of Rover Pipeline, among other projects. Nearly two years ago Sunoco Logistics Partners, a subsidiary of ETE, was merged into ETP (see ETE Merging Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners). Sunoco, aka ETP, is building the Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline project. Although technically ETP is the builder, we still call the company doing the work Sunoco, because that’s what everyone else does. Confusing! Hopefully that confusion ends today. ETE announced yesterday that following a vote of unitholders (i.e. shareholders), as of today ETE and ETP are merged, and the new name is simply, Energy Transfer.
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The Winners of the PA DEP $12.6 Million ME2 Hunger Games Are…

Que the music with dramatic drums, cymbals and trumpets. Camera A, zoom in on Secretary McDonnell. The whole state is watching. It’s time for the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to announce the winners of PA’s Hunger Games-style contest to grab a piece of the $12.6 million “fine” paid by Sunoco Logistics Partners for “permit violations related to the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project” (see Sunoco LP Pays PA DEP $12.6M to Resume ME2 Pipeline Construction).
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Mariner East 2 Pipe Startup Delayed Due to “Regulatory Issues”

ME2 Pipeline (red dotted line) – click for larger version

Energy Transfer Partners and their Sunoco Logistics unit had previously predicted the Mariner East 2 NGL (natural gas liquids) pipeline would be up and running no later than Sept. 30. That date came and went, and the pipeline is still not ready. According the ET, the reason is due to “regulatory issues.” Meaning, what exactly? We have a list of the “issues” holding up ME2 from launching.
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Empty Victory for Antis: PA PUC Blocks ME2 Valve Stn in W Goshen

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) blocked Sunoco Logistics Partners from building a valve station for the Mariner East 2 (ME2) project in West Goshen Township, Chester County where it wanted to build it. The PUC voted to accept a “Recommended Decision” issued by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes that blocks construction of the valve station. Barnes has a history of ruling against ME2 going all the way back to 2014. Fortunately, most of her rulings have been overturned by the PUC. In this case it was not. But in the end, it doesn’t matter, because Sunoco said last December they’ve changed their plans and won’t build the valve station in West Goshen at all (see PA PUC Votes to Let ME2 Pipe Restart Construction in West Goshen). As a way of attempting to block the pipeline through their community, West Goshen objected to Sunoco building a new valve station for ME2 across the street from a valve station for Mariner East 1. West Goshen wanted the valve station built next to the existing ME1 valve station, but Sunoco wanted to build the new station across the street, citing safety concerns. West Goshen appealed to the state Public Utility Commission (PUC). In July 2017, Judge Barnes agreed with West Goshen (no surprise there), stopping not only construction of the valve station, but also construction of the ME2 pipeline itself through the township. The portion of the decision blocking pipeline construction was overturned. In December 2017, Sunoco gave up the fight to build the West Goshen valve station, period. Of course the antis who run West Goshen like a private fiefdom still objected! They said Sunoco hasn’t said what the alternative to building the valve station (a safety feature) would be. Hey, West Goshen’s “leaders” were the ones who didn’t want the valve station in the first place. West Goshen’s “leaders” are the ones who have made the pipeline through their community “less safe” because they didn’t want the valve station. Now they get to live with their actions. So reading that the PUC has, nine months later, ratified Barnes’ decision to block the valve station is somewhat strange. There’s no “there” there anymore. Sunoco dropped the valve station plan long ago. We hope West Goshen antis enjoy their empty victory…
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Philly RINO Wants “Risk Assessment” of ME2, Now That It’s Built

RINO (Republican In Name Only) Pennsylvania House of Representatives member Chris Quinn, from the Philadelphia area, introduced House Resolution 1034 last Wednesday. The resolution instructs the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) to prepare a “comprehensive risk assessment of the Mariner East 2 [ME2] Pipeline.” Even though ME2 is 99% built and will soon go online. The resolution, which if passed doesn’t have any practical effect since it’s not a law, is actually an exercise in political derrière covering. What if the DEP and PUC performed such a risk assessment, and what if the report they issued found there are some risks associated with ME2 (as there are will any/all pipeline projects, roads, electric lines, stepping outside your door, etc.)? What then? The pipeline isn’t going away. It’s still going to be used, now that it’s built. Such is how the game is played by political swamp dwellers. Quinn also says he’s about to introduce House Bill (HB) 2609 requiring the state Attorney General to draft a landowner “bill of rights”–issued to landowners who may be subject to eminent domain for pipelines. Can’t wait to see what that bill says…
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