Update: This story has been updated to reflect a request for the judge to reconsider his decision.
A Pennsylvania judge on Friday denied a request to temporarily halt the start of construction of the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline.
Judge Bernard Labuskes of the Environmental Hearing Board did not give a reason for denying the request from three environmental groups who sought to stop Sunoco Logistics from starting work on the cross-state line, pending a full hearing on the issue in early March.
The Clean Air Council and two other groups argued in a hearing on Thursday that early work on the line, including tree cutting and horizontal drilling, would risk water contamination and result in “irreparable harm.”
But a Sunoco attorney said the company needed to start work right away in some locations in order to complete tree felling in time to meet a deadline that’s designed to protect a threatened species of bat.
The judge said a full hearing on the environmental groups’ request for an order of “supersedeas’ – will be held on March 1-3.
Sunoco and the Department of Environmental Protection declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.
Sunoco would not say when and where construction would begin, but DEP says the company can immediately begin work along the line in Delaware, Chester and Huntingdon counties.
The Clean Air Council’s attorney, Alex Bomstein, filed a request Friday afternoon for the judge to reconsider his decision, citing new information that Sunoco had not previously disclosed to the Environmental Hearing Board. Bomstein says that includes more construction activity than Sunoco’s attorneys presented to the Board.
The $2.5 billion, 350-mile pipeline would carry natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale of southwestern Pennsylvania to an export terminal at Marcus Hook near Philadelphia.