State Approves Pipeline Across Commonwealth Despite Protests From Environmentalists

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s called the Mariner East 2 Pipeline, a project of Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics.

And it will run parallel, for the most part, to an existing Mariner East 1 pipeline, through Washington, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties on its way east.

Sunoco wants to take natural gas liquids from our area and transport them to Philadelphia for shipment overseas.

But some environmentalists say this will pose a danger both to the environment and the people who live near the pipeline.

Sunoco Logistics wants to build a 306-mile natural gas liquids pipeline from Houston in Washington County across the state to Marcus Hook, just outside Philadelphia, and Monday’s approval by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has sparked protests.

“Pipelines do have accidents. That’s something that people are finding around the country,” says Myron Arnowitt, of Clean Water Action.

Like the pipeline explosion last November in Alabama, or, closer to home, the one in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, last April.

“Come around the bend, it looked like you were looking down into hell,” the local fire chief said at the time.

Three environmental groups have filed legal action to stop construction of the pipeline pending further review.

“It is a massive project that DEP has not adequately reviewed for the incredible amount of environmental damage that it will cause,” Clean Air Council’s executive director and chief counsel told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

Joining the Clean Air Council in taking legal action is the local Mountain Watershed Association based in Donegal.

“The pipeline is not transferring natural gas. It’s something called natural gas liquids, which is about 150 times more explosive,” says Melissa Marshall, community advocate for the Mountain Watershed Association.

Environmentalists say Sunoco’s $2.5 billion Mariner East 1 pipeline could destroy about 100 wetlands and will go under 800 streams and rivers across the state, posing a risk, they say, like the controversial Dakota Pipeline, the site of many protests.

“One of our concerns and a lot of peoples’ concerns is that DEP really rushed this process,” says Arnowitt.

DEP says nothing was rushed, taking 20,000 hours to review technical materials and 29,000 public comments.

Gov. Wolf also supports the project, citing job creation and the need to use 75,000 tons of steel pipe.

Sunoco Logistics spokesman Jeff Fields says all that steel will be American-made and coated locally and about 8,000 people will be hired to construct the pipeline.

The Environmental Hearing Board meets Thursday to decide whether to impose a temporary stay on construction pending further hearings.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

_______________________________________________________________________

(NewsRadio 1020 KDKA/AP) – Wolf Denies Applying Political Pressure In DEP Pipeline Decision

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf denies applying any political pressure in the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of the controversial Mariner East 2 statewide pipeline project, which will run through parts of Chester and Delaware Counties.

Environmentalists immediately appealed the Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of the Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 2 pipeline, which will transport natural gas liquids through 17 Pennsylvania counties to Sunoco’s Marcus Hook facility in Delaware County.

Environmental groups say the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved incomplete permit applications Monday for the Sunoco Logistics’ pipeline. They argue construction of the 306-mile section of Mariner East 2 would cause massive and irreparable harm to the state’s environment and residents.

The Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association appealed the decision to a state environmental hearing board.

Environmental department officials have declined comment.

Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf denies allegations of political pressure, but does admit that he held DEP to a timeline.

“I asked them what their timetable was and then, let’s do it. As a CEO, I was the same way. You say you’re going to do something, let’s get it done. And if you tell me you’re going to take two weeks to do it, then get it done in two weeks,” said Wolf. “If you’re going to take four weeks, do it in four weeks. That’s not political pressure, that’s actually trying to manage an organization.”

The governor says he believes the DEP did its due diligence in vetting the project, which he says he supports in order to ensure gas that comes out of the ground in Pennsylvania can be used to the advantage of the Commonwealth.

Follow News Radio 1020 KDKA on Facebook
Follow News Radio 1020 KDKA on Twitter

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Jon Delano

Watch & Listen LIVE