Was PA DEP Justified in Shutting Down All ME2 Pipe Construction?

The news that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) has suspended all construction work on the Mariner East 2 Pipeline project until further notice continues to reverberate (see PA DEP Caves to Big Green Pressure, Stops All Work on ME2 Pipeline). MDN has taken some heat for our implication that the main reason for the shutdown is pressure from radical Big Green groups. While we maintain our view is not incorrect, we also don’t want to leave the impression that there aren’t problems that need to be addressed with ME2 construction. There are. And the DEP is right to address them. What we DO take issue with is a complete shutdown of ALL construction. If the underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) work is the primary issue, shut that down–but not all construction, including trench work. At any rate, we spotted a story about a landowner in Cumberland County who says his private water well was fouled when ME2 construction began–and it’s still not right. Below is his story as an example of what the DEP *should* be paying attention to…
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PA DEP Fines ME2 Pipe $87,600 for Single Violation, More Coming?

Apparently under pressure from environmentalist wackos, last Friday the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a statement that says, in essence, we’re on the back of Sunoco Logistics over problems with construction the Mariner East 2 Pipeline. Gov. Wolf and DEP Secretary McDonnell both felt it necessary to voice their “concerns” over some of the episodes that have happened with construction the twin Mariner East 2 NGL pipelines that will stretch from eastern OH to the Philadelphia area. According to the announcement, the DEP has so far issued 4 “Notices of Violation” and 1 “Consent Order and Agreement” with a fine of $87,600 for “inadvertent returns” (what we call leaks) of drilling mud and water at an underground horizontal directional drilling (HDD) location in Cumberland County, PA. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first we’ve heard of that spill. It was actually a series of spills (or leaks) over a number of different days. All told, some 160,000 gallons of drilling fluids came out of the ground at that location. In addition, the DEP released a table outlining 49 incidents–some just a few gallons, others several hundred (or several thousand) gallons of drilling fluid leaks. We have the list of 49 problem areas below, the details on the Cumberland County leaks, and the DEP announcement…
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PA Judge Rejects Landowners’ Challenge to Mariner East 2 Pipeline

court gavelA Pennsylvania state judge last Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by three Cumberland County landowners against Sunoco Logistics Partners over the company’s assertion of eminent domain to build the Mariner East 2 pipeline across their property. Sunoco is currently pumping propane through the Mainer East 1 pipeline and has plans to add a second and third pipeline next to the existing pipeline, collectively called Mariner East 2. All told, Sunoco LP is spending an eye-popping $3 billion to build out the Mariner East project which flows natural gas liquids (propane, ethane, others) from as far away as eastern Ohio to the Philadelphia-area Marcus Hook refinery. The judge, in tossing out the lawsuit, further strengthens Sunoco LP’s argument that the Mariner projects, which will distribute the NGLs flowing through them both within PA and beyond PA, is in fact a public utility under PA law and entitled to use eminent domain, if necessary, to build the project…
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Anti Groups “Outraged” at Mariner East 2 Open House Invite

Once again the Philadelphia-based anti-drilling group Clean Air Council (CAC), along with THE Delaware Riverkeeper (Maya van Rossum) have their collective knickers in a twist. The two groups are “outraged” that Sunoco Logistics, in sending around invitations to an open house on the Mariner East 2 pipeline, didn’t send one to them. Not only that, but the invites that were sent out–to landowners and elected officials–said the invite is “not transferable” to anyone else. We could hear the howls and screams from Philly all the way up here in upstate NY!…
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Brainwash Complete: Dickinson Co-Ed Wants PA Severance Tax

A young college co-ed from Dickinson College has penned an editorial run in the Harrisburg Patriot-News proving what a valuable education one gets at Dickinson—where they teach kids that drilling destroys the environment. (Hint: You may want to re-think sending your children, and your money, to Dickinson College).

Here’s her "brilliance" on display (with snarky MDN comments inserted):

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The Folly of PA’s Impact Fee/Tax

A number of stories coming from PA for the past several months revolve around how towns and counties will spend a windfall they’ve received from the state since instituting the first-ever shale well impact “fee” last year (for background on the fee-which-is-really-just-a-tax, see: List of PA Impact Fee Disbursements by County/Town). We’ve spared you the boring details. However, we bring you one of those stories to illustrate a point.

Cumberland County, PA has no active shale drilling, yet they will receive $200,000 in “walking around” money from the hard work of energy companies and landowners who are drilling. And what do the wise leaders of Cumberland County intend to do with this new-found pile of cash? Buy a new fire truck or two? Refurbish school classrooms? Refit snowplows with new equipment? Maybe convert some county vehicles to run on natural gas? Nope. They plan to put $149,000 of it into a program to give away (blow) on “green projects.” The squabbling over how to distribute it has already begun…

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