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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PA Supreme Court Victory for ME2 Pipeline re Two Zoning Cases

Two different townships in the Philadelphia area, amped-up by and using money from Big Green groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper (aka Maya van Rossum), tried to stop Sunoco Logistics Partners’ Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline project by claiming it violated local zoning ordinances. The construction of ME2 is governed by the PA state Public Utility Commission and the state Dept. of Environmental Protection. It is not a federal (i.e. FERC) project. Because it is a state-oversight project, the issue of primacy (whose rules and regulations govern) resides at the state level and not at the local level. Two local townships–one in Chester County the other in Delware County–argued in separate cases before PA Commonwealth Court that local zoning regulations for siting the pipeline should still apply. Commonwealth Court, in a pair of decisions earlier this year, ruled against that view (see PA Town Loses Appeal to Block ME2 Pipe with Local Zoning Ordinance and PA Appeals Court Rules ME2 Pipe NOT Under Local Zoning). Using Big Green money, both towns appealed their cases to the PA Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the Supremes declined to hear either case, meaning the Commonwealth Court ruling stands and this issue is now, finally, done. Antis’ attempts to stop the ME2 project by using local zoning ordinances is a closed door…
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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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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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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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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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PA DEP Grants Williams NE Supply Enhancement Pipe Key Permit

NESE map – click for larger version

The Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) is a Williams Transco Pipeline project meant to increase pipeline capacity and flows heading into northeastern markets (see Time to Support Transco’s Northeast Supply Enhancement Project). Transco wants to provide more Marcellus natural gas to utility giant National Grid beginning with the 2019-2020 heating season. National Grid operates in New York City, Long Island, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are a number of components to the project, but the key component, the heart of the project, is a new 23-mile pipeline from the shore of New Jersey into (on the bottom of) the Raritan Bay–running parallel to the existing Transco pipeline–before connecting to the Transco offshore. After an initial rejection by the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Williams refiled an application for the project in May with the DEC (see Williams Refiles Application with NY DEC for Transco NESE Project). Meanwhile, there are portions of the project in Pennsylvania that have already been approved by the PA’s Dept. of Environmental Protection. In a notice published in the June 16 Pennsylvania Bulletin, the DEP issued the project a Section 401 Water Quality Certification for work being done in Lancaster and Chester counties. According to the PA Environment Digest Blog: “The Project facilities consist of approximately 10.17 miles of new 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline in Drumore, East Drumore, and Eden Townships, Lancaster County and the addition of one 21,902 horsepower motor-driven compressor at the existing Compressor Station 200 in East Whiteland Twp., Chester County.” Too bad the dysfunctional NY DEC couldn’t be more like the mostly-functional PA DEP…
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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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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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