FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Sunoco Pipeline's Mariner East 2 construction in Lebanon County. In another part of the county, drilling has caused multiple spills that have resulted in notices of violation from the Department of Environmental Protection.
Jeremy Long/Lebanon Daily News
State senator files complaint asking PUC to halt Mariner East pipeline construction
As the Harrisburg reporter for StateImpact Pennsylvania, Marie Cusick covers energy and environmental issues for public radio stations statewide. She’s also part of NPR’s energy and environment team, which coordinates coverage between the network and select member station reporters around the country. Her work frequently airs on NPR shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Since 2012, Marie has closely followed the political, social, environmental, and economic effects of Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom. Her work has been recognized at the regional and national levels– honors include a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and a national Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Previously, Marie was a multimedia reporter for WMHT in Albany, New York and covered technology for the station’s statewide public affairs TV show, New York NOW. In 2018, she became StateImpact’s first FAA-licensed drone pilot.
Jeremy Long/Lebanon Daily News
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Sunoco Pipeline’s Mariner East 2 construction in rural Pennsylvania. Plans for a new construction technique in some locations have prompted a new round of community resistance.
State Senator Andy Dinniman is trying to halt construction on two natural gas liquids pipelines, in West Whiteland Township, Chester County, alleging they pose a serious threat to public health and safety.
Dinniman filed a formal complaint and petition for emergency relief Thursday with the state Public Utility Commission. At issue is Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East pipeline project, which has been plagued with technical, legal, and environmental problems. It includes three parallel natural gas liquids lines — the Mariner East 1, the Mariner East 2, and the Mariner East 2X.
The PUC suspended service on the Mariner East 1 line earlier this spring, citing safety concerns related to sinkholes, and saying that a pipeline leak could have a “catastrophic” effect on public safety.
Dinniman’s complaint and petition relate to the second two lines — the Mariner East 2 and 2X.
“I have a moral, ethical, and constitutional duty to stand for the safety of the people of Chester County and the protection of their children and families, as well our environment, drinking water, natural resources, and public infrastructure,” said Dinniman, a Chester County Democrat. “I am asking the PUC to consider all of that – the numerous drilling problems, the risks to safety, the proximity to homes and schools, and the unique and problematic geology of the region – in concluding that these pipelines should not be built here period.”
Dinniman is calling on the PUC to prohibit “the construction of ME2 and ME2X in areas of West Whiteland Township where ME1 is located within 50 feet of a private dwelling, industrial building or place of public assembly, and grant such other relief as the Commission finds to be just and appropriate.”
“Both the complaint and the emergency petition have been received by the commission,” said PUC spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen. “They’ve been assigned to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for further action.”
Sunoco has 20 days to respond to the complaint. The Office of Administrative Law Judge will also schedule a hearing on Dinniman’s petition for emergency relief and decide to grant or deny it. Both the complaint the petition will then go to the full Commission.
“We strongly disagree with Senator Dinniman’s claims which are clearly founded on misinformation,” Sunoco spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger wrote in an email. “ME2 and ME2X are critical public utility infrastructure for NGLs that are badly needed and this effort to stop construction would have a significant adverse impact on thousands of workers all across Pennsylvania including the Senator’s district, the energy industry, and the economy of the Commonwealth.”
The three Mariner East pipelines either carry or are being built to carry natural gas liquids from the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania across the state to a processing and export terminal in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
Note: This story has been updated with comment from Sunoco