Antis Get Lib Judge to Shut Down All Mariner East Pipes, Dems Rejoice

Anti-fossil fuel nutters have finally, after months and years, scored a minor victory. They’ve been shopping to locate an ultra-liberal judge who would ignore the law and instead issue edicts from the bench–to shut down both the Mariner East 1 (ME1) and Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline projects. Yesterday 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 (Chester County, PA). The judge also moved to shut down all operations of Mariner East 1 across the state, ruling that she is “enjoining Respondent from operating Mariner East 1.” It is a breathtaking display of arrogance and seizure of power that does not belong to her. The ruling runs counter to other decisions regarding these critical pipeline projects–projects that have been thoroughly vetted by numerous regulatory agencies. Construction of ME2 is 94% complete! ME1 has been flowing NGLs for over a year–with ZERO problems! And yet Barnes has shut it all down, with the stroke of a pen. We predict it won’t last long…
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Philly Dem Senator Tries to Shut Down ME2 Pipe Construction

PA State Senator Andy Dinniman

A Chester County, PA (Philadelphia area) Democrat State Senator by the name of Andy Dinniman (who we think looks like Tony Soprano) continues his mission to stop the Mariner East 2 (ME2) project. This is nothing new for Dinniman. He’s been agitating and lobbying and demanding and pouting for over a year in his quest to shut down ME2 (see our Dinniman stories here). According to a press release from Dinniman issued last Thursday, the Senator has filed “a formal legal complaint and a petition for interim emergency relief with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to prohibit construction of the Mariner East 2 (ME2) and Mariner East 2X (ME2X) pipelines in West Whiteland Township.” Dinniman claims Sunoco Logistics Partners (builder of ME2) has 20 days to respond to the complaint. No doubt Sunoco will respond, and there’s little doubt the PUC will not do anything about Dinniman’s request…
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PA PUC Asks Sunoco to Drill Holes, Pour Concrete to Firm Up ME1

For more than a year, Marcellus/Utica ethane and propane have been flowing through the converted Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline safely, hauling the two natural gas liquids (NGLs) from southwest PA all the way to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. The primary shipper using ME1 has been Range Resources, although other companies like CNX Resources use it too. However, ME1 was suddenly switched off on March 3 by order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) after a sinkhole opened up under the pipeline in Chester County, exposing some of the bare steel to the open air (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). Sunoco Logistics Partners, the owner of ME1, is building a new set of pipelines called Mariner East 2 (ME2) close to the existing ME1. Construction work in the area on ME2 led to the sinkhole that exposed ME1. The PUC shut down ME1 until further notice, requiring Sunoco to conduct a study of the area and provide the PUC with evidence to reassure them that ME1 is OK and will not leak or explode. Sunoco conducted the study, provided its results, and told the PUC it’s time to restart ME1–but the PUC is dragging its feet (see Sunoco Says ME1 Ready to Restart, but PUC is Dragging its Feet). The new news is that the PUC recently told Sunoco that before ME1 can restart, the company must first drill 10 new holes in the area of the sinkholes and pour in concrete (“grout”) in an effort to ensure ME1 doesn’t move around and break open…
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ME2 Pipe Work in Chester County Shut Down (Again) Following Leaks

Hypersensitive: excessively or abnormally sensitive. That’s the word we would use to describe what’s happening in Chester County, PA–a suburb of Philadelphia–with regard to underground horizontal directional drilling work (HDD) being performed by Sunoco Logisitics Partners on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. The company keeps having “inadvertent returns”–which we call leaks. Drilling mud (bentonite) used to cool the drill bit goes down the hole, and sometimes it pops back up on the surface in a different place from where it went down. Since the drilling mud is non-toxic clay and water (same stuff used to make kitty litter, toothpaste and lipstick), it’s no big deal. Unless there’s thousands of gallons of it turning up in a creek where it can smother fish and aquatic life. There’s cracks in the ground near the surface and sometimes the mud leaks out of those cracks. Sunoco must track leaks of down to less than one gallon. Antis look at the numbers and make wild claims that the pipeline has leaked “over 100 times” since drilling began. While technically true, many of those leaks are nothingburgers–not worth tracking or talking about (a few gallons at most). However, some of the leaks are big and yes, those do need talking about. Over the past week or so another four leaks have occurred in Chester County, totaling 8,000 gallons. Fortunately none of it ended up in a creek. Because of the leaks, the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has, once again, shut down any further HDD work in Chester County…
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Sunoco Says ME1 Ready to Restart, but PUC is Dragging its Feet

Ethane and propane had been flowing through the converted Mariner East 1 (ME1) pipeline safely for more than year, hauling the two natural gas liquids (NGLs) from southwest PA all the way to the Marcus Hook refinery near Philadelphia. However, ME1 was suddenly switched off on March 3 by order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) after a sinkhole opened up under the pipeline in Chester County, exposing some of the bare steel to the open air (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). Sunoco Logistics Partners, the owner of ME1, is building a new set of pipelines called Mariner East 2 (ME2) close to the existing ME1. Construction work in the area on ME2 led to the sinkhole that exposed ME1. The PUC shut down ME1 until further notice, requiring Sunoco to conduct a study of the area and provide the PUC with evidence to reassure them that ME1 is OK and will not leak or explode. Sunoco conducted the study, provided its results, and has told the PUC it’s time to restart ME1. But the PUC is dragging its feet, taking its time to review Sunoco’s work, and in no particular hurry to restart ME1–even though the outage is impacting the drilling program at companies like Range Resources…
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Sunoco Requests Change of Drilling Methods for ME2 Near Sinkholes

Underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work done by Sunoco Logisitics Partners in Chester County to install the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines has led to the development of three large sinkholes (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). The third sinkhole that developed exposed a portion of the existing Mariner East 1 pipeline, causing ME1 to be closed until further notice (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). In order for ME1 to reopen, the state Public Utility Commission has to be assured further drilling for ME2 won’t further disturb ME1. The problem is that the underground geology in that area of Chester County is known as a karst–analogous to Swiss cheese rock layers underground. Not conducive to HDD work. So Sunoco is changing gears. The company has filed a request with the Dept. of Environmental Protection (which oversees the regulation of the project) to change from using HDD to instead using a couple of alternative methods to get the pipe in the ground–including trenching. Before the DEP gives its OK, they will first hold a public hearing on April 30th in West Chester…
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Antis: Sunoco Damaged Own Equipment to “Change Conversation” re ME2

Last week MDN reported that two pieces of heavy equipment being used by Sunoco Logistics Partners to build the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Chester County, PA had been severely, intentionally damaged (see Criminal Antis Vandalize Sunoco ME2 Pipe Construction Equipment). As Sunoco pointed out, there is no doubt who perpetrated the crime: Someone(s) who oppose the ME2 project. Antis who tipped over into engaging in a criminal act in their misguided, twisted attempt to save Mother Earth from the evils of fossil fuels. Sunoco is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Antis know darned well it was one of their own who did the crime–either a local or (more likely) someone from out-of-state, an imported radical who couldn’t help himself. Wackos. Antis are now trying to focus attention away from their own criminal element by having the gall to allege Sunoco may have damaged their own equipment as a way of “changing the conversation.” Antis are offering their own $10,000 reward in order to shift the focus away from themselves. This is really sick stuff…
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Criminal Antis Vandalize Sunoco ME2 Pipe Construction Equipment

It’s OK to be a blithering idiot and oppose important pipeline infrastructure projects like the Mariner East 2 Pipeline because you believe in the fairy tale of man-made global warming. It’s OK to march and protest and write and name-call, and yes, it’s even OK to launch frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. Knock yourselves out. It’s your right as a citizen in the greatest country on Mom Earth, a country we call America. What is NOT OK is to vandalize construction equipment used to build the pipeline, causing thousands of dollars in damage, simply because you’re demented and delude yourself that you are somehow saving “the environment” with your criminal action. That is precisely what Sunoco is alleging after someone(s) damaged the engines, fuel systems and hydraulic lines of two pieces of heavy equipment on April 2 & 3 in Chester County, PA (near Philadelphia). Sunoco is offering $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. We certainly hope that happens…
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Offer to Relocate Families Near ME2 Sinkholes; ME1 Down Until May?

Sinkhole in Chester County, PA

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. In March, MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County had led to a third sinkhole developing in that area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built next to the existing ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. The third sinkhole in Chester County exposed a portion of ME1, leading to the state Public Utility Commission “temporarily” shutting down ME1 on March 7 (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). ME1 would be, according to Sunoco, out of commission for “10 to 14 days.” Nearly a month later it’s still not running and until the state Dept. of Environmental Protection gets solid answers about the sinkholes, it won’t restart. It now looks like ME1 won’t be operational again until May. ME1’s closure has put several shippers, primarily Range Resources, in a bind (see Range, CNX Look for Alternatives to ME1 Pipe Following Shutdown). Sunoco needs to conduct geotechnical studies near the sinkholes to get answers that will allow it to resume work. So, Sunoco has offered to temporarily relocate five families living near the three sinkholes–for up to six weeks–while it conducts tests of the area…
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Philly Suburbanites Launch Class Action Lawsuit Against ME2 Pipe

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. Earlier this month MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County had led to a third sinkhole developing in that area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built right next to ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. The third sinkhole in Chester County exposed a portion of ME1, leading to the state Public Utility Commission temporarily shutting down ME1 (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). Now added to Sunoco’s complications, two residents living near the sinkholes in Chester County have filed a class action lawsuit against Sunoco, saying the company was negligent for using a drilling technique (HDD) not suitable for the geology in the area…
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Grumpy Antis Protest at ME2 Sinkhole Site – Jeer Sunoco Workers

A third sinkhole related to Mariner East 2 pipeline work and the uncovering (and subsequent shutdown) of the Mariner East 1 pipeline has some folks in Chester County, PA stirred up and rather grumpy (see PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole). A group of some 150 anti-pipeline protesters (perhaps a better word is “mob”) gathered Saturday in Chester County near the sinkhole sites, carry signs and chanting. Did they demand that the DEP and Gov. Wolf force Sunoco Logistics Partners, the builder of ME2, to find a different route around a geography known for sinkholes for decades? Or force Sunoco to slow down in an attempt to prevent any more sinkholes? Or demand Sunoco come to the table to talk about how they will prevent any more issues in the area–and compensate properties near the sinkhole? No. Their demand of Wolf: Shut it down, now. And keep it shut down. Cancel the entire multi-billion dollar ME2 project that is 93% complete. In other words, their demand is unreasonable, not realistic, not the way adults behave when they have disagreements and concerns…
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PA PUC Shuts Down Mariner 1 Pipeline Due to Mariner 2 Sinkhole

3rd sinkhole opens up in Chester County, PA

Sunoco Logistics Partners (aka Energy Transfer Parnters) has had its challenges in constructing the twin Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipelines across Pennsylvania. Earlier this week MDN told you that underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work in Chester County has led to a third sinkhole developing in the area (see 3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA). For most of its length, ME2 is being built right next to ME1 (Mariner East 1), a liquids pipeline originally built in 1931. ME1 now flows 70,000 barrels a day of NGLs like propane to Marcus Hook, PA. The third sinkhole has exposed a portion of ME1. That is, bare steel pipeline was uncovered due to the sinkhole. Not good. That situation led to the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) slapping ME1 with an emergency shut down order yesterday…
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3rd Sinkhole Appears Near ME2 Construction in Chester County, PA

In February, Sunoco Logistics Partners agreed to pay a massive (historically high) $12.6 million fine to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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). The fine, along with a “stringent compliance review” going forward, gave the DEP enough confidence to allow Sunoco to resume construction on the ME2 project, which had been halted since January 3rd. One of the ongoing problems with the project is underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD). In one area near Philadelphia, a couple of sinkholes developed in close proximity to Sunoco’s HDD work. Not a good thing. Unfortunately for Sunoco, a third “swimming-pool-sized” sinkhole has just opened up in the same general area as two others, in West Whiteland (Chester County, PA)…
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PA Town Loses Appeal to Block ME2 Pipe with Local Zoning Ordinance

Yesterday MDN brought you news that Uwchlan Township (Chester County, PA) has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline (ME2) through portions of the town, claiming the pipeline violates a town ordinance for “setbacks”–how far the pipeline is located from buildings and other structures (see PA Town Sues Sunoco for ME2 Pipe Construction “Too Close” to Homes). As we said yesterday, while residents in Uwchlan may have legitimate concerns, they are trying to handle those concerns illegitimately–by claiming local ordinances have power over state regulations. It’s the other way around. State regulations trump local ordinances in cases like ME2. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court agrees. Uwchlan isn’t the only town to try this approach. Two towns away in Chester County is West Goshen. We won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say West Goshen has tried a number of regulatory and legal actions to block ME2 in the town. One of those actions was a lawsuit brought by the anti-drilling, anti-pipeline THE Delaware Riverkeeper (Maya van Rossum). Riverkeeper, on behalf of a couple of town residents, took Sunoco to court to block ME2 on the basis that it violates a local zoning ordinance. Yesterday Commonwealth Court rejected that claim and reaffirmed what everyone (who knows and obeys the rule of law) knows: State regulations trump local ordinances. The misguided officials in Uwchlan have said they “will evaluate [their] enforcement action in coming days, in light of the Commonwealth Court ruling.” Indeed. If Uwchlan pushes forward with their case, it will be to certain defeat–a total waste of taxpayer money…
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PA Town Sues Sunoco for ME2 Pipe Construction “Too Close” to Homes

We understand why folks in Uwchlan Township (Chester County, PA) may be upset with Sunoco Logistics and the Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline that’s crossing through their area. Last summer drilling work for the pipeline in Uwchlan created cloudy well water for some residents (see ME2 Pipe Work in Chester County Creates Water Well Issue for Some). The PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently allowed Sunoco to resume work in the township (and elsewhere)–after Sunoco paid a $12.6 million fine (see PA DEP Allows ME2 Underground Drilling to Resume in Chester County). So yeah, residents have some concerns. However, they’re going about venting their frustration in the wrong way. Last week supervisors in Uwchlan Township voted unanimously to enforce an ordinance that requires pipelines like ME2 to be set back 1,000 feet from buildings. In some cases, ME2 is being built within 100 feet of buildings. While we appreciate Uwchlan’s concerns, the simple fact is, local municipal ordinances DO NOT override state regulations. In this case, it is the state DEP and Public Utility Commission that regulate the project. It is state law that trumps local ordinances–as it should be. By all means, wheel and deal and pressure and try to get Sunoco to change the route–but you cannot take the law into your own hands, which is exactly what Uwchlan is attempting to do…
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PA DEP Allows ME2 Underground Drilling to Resume in Chester County

In what can only be considered a government shakedown, Sunoco Logistics Partners agreed last week to pay a massive (historically high) $12.6 million fine to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) 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). So we’re not surprised to learn that a few days later the DEP has magnanimously allowed Sunoco Logistics Partners to resume drilling work in Chester County for ME2–work that had been on hold since last summer (see ME2 Pipe Work in Chester County Creates Water Well Issue for Some). As we reported last year, the water wells for a dozen households in Chester County became cloudy–or lost pressure–after underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) by Sunoco attempting to install pipes underground in places where digging trenches will not work. Sunoco paid for five families to temporarily stay in local hotels for several nights. Sunoco also provided bottled water for all of the affected families. The working theory is that bentonite clay (i.e. drilling mud) is the source of the cloudiness. Fortunately, bentonite is non-toxic and used to manufacture many products, including toothpaste and kitty litter. Because of the episode in Chester and several locations, the DEP stopped HDD work for the project. Sunoco later cut a deal to continue the work (see Sunoco Strikes Deal with Devil, “Settles” with Anti Groups re ME2). Then, all work everywhere for the ME2 project was stopped by the DEP in early January. That is, it was stopped until Sunoco paid the DEP $12.6 million for permission to restart construction. So yes, $12.6 million ought to buy the right to restart HDD drilling in Chester County, as it just has, although the DEP is still holding the threat of “further penalties” over Sunoco’s head as a way of encouraging them to avoid any further drilling mud spills…
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