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Pipeline Fights



Mariner East 2 NGL Pipeline

(Photo: West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety, January 2021)

(Photo: West Whiteland Residents for Pipeline Safety, January 2021)

Currently under construction as of early 2021, Energy Transfer Partners proposed Mariner East 2 NGL pipeline is an expansion of the existing Sunoco (acquired by ETP) Mariner East pipeline system, which carries propane, butane, and natural gasoline from Ohio through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. According to ETP, more than 80% of the Mariner East 2 route will follow the same pipeline corridor as Mariner East I beneath 17 Pennsylvania counties.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf visits Mariner East impact zone, East Gosen Township, PA, August 2019 (Photo: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety)

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf visits Mariner East impact zone, East Gosen Township, PA, August 2019 (Photo: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety)

The Mariner East pipeline project includes three lines — the Mariner East 1, the Mariner East 2, and the Mariner East 2X, all of which carry or will soon carry natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania across the state to a processing and export terminal in Marcus Hook, Delaware County. Mariner East 2 would expand capacity to 345,000 barrels of NGLs a day, cutting through 2,700 properties with a 50-foot right-of-way, and crosses more than 1,200 streams or wetlands. [source]

More than 300 hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and other vulnerable buildings could be impacted by a potential leak of the Mariner East pipeline system. Sunoco has not disclosed the potential area of harm should an accident occur, but one study pegged it at 0.4 miles, while another found harm could extend 1.3 miles out. Spotlight PA calculated that up to 345,000 people statewide could be impacted by a leak or serious accident, as well as up to 340 schools, child care centers, places of worship, and mobile home parks. [source]

Since the project began construction in 2017, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection has issued more than 100 violations to the company for polluting wetlands, waterways, and destroying about a dozen private water wells. [source]

Landowners on the proposed pipeline route have documented a litany of violations of environmental and other regulations during construction, during which the company has repeatedly created sinkholes that have become filled with polluted wastewater that has spilled onto adjacent properties. Local groups including West Whitelands Residents for Pipeline Safety and Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety have documented the sinkholes and other construction violations, while Camp White Pine has led a forest defense camp of frontlines opposition and nonviolent direct action.

Construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline has faced myriad problems, including damaged water supplies and sinkholes in a residential neighborhood in Chester County (Photo: Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA)

Construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline has faced myriad problems, including damaged water supplies and sinkholes in a residential neighborhood in Chester County (Photo: Marie Cusick / StateImpact PA)


(via StateImpact NPR Pennsylvania: Mariner East 2: A Problem of Permits):


Recent Media Coverage

Project Details

  • Owner: Energy Transfer Partners (acquired original developer Sunoco Logistics in 2017)
  • Capacity: 125,000 barrels per day
  • Length: 350 miles
  • Diameter: 20-inches
  • Cost: $3 billion
  • Status: PROPOSED / CONSTRUCTION (2017 – 2021)
  • Start Year: 2021?
  • Bank lenders:

Project Status

Eminent Domain: 

  • (Photo: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, August 2018))

    (Photo: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, August 2018))

    Energy Transfer / Sunoco / Mariner East 2 used eminent domain proceedings to secure right-of-ways from reluctant landowners, including one family in Huntingdon County that sat in their trees to protest the pipeline construction [source]

  • January 2016: Huntingdon County Court of Common Pleas Judge George Zanik ruled in favor of Sunoco in its eminent domain case against the Gerharts. The family had turned down the company’s offer of $100,000 to route the pipeline through their property, and is appealing the eminent domain decision. [source]

Indigenous Free, Prior & Informed Consent; Consultation & Environmental Justice:

  • No free, prior & informed consent. Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right that pertains to Indigenous peoples and is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. Once they have given their consent, they can withdraw it at any stage. Furthermore, FPIC enables them to negotiate the conditions under which the project will be designed, implemented, monitored and evaluated. This is also embedded within the universal right to self-determination. [source]

Outstanding Permits:

  • Sept 11, 2020: Administrative Order issued by PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, orders ETP to reroute its planned pipeline route, and further assess, investigate, and restore resources impacted by Mariner East II pipeline installation activities at HDD 290 in Upper Uwchlan Township, Chester County. [source]
  • Aug. 21, 2019 – Dec. 21, 2017: PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty in Six Cases: (Example: On August 21, 2019, DEP entered into a Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty with Sunoco Pipeline, LP for violations resulting from construction activities on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Sunoco’s construction activities resulted in accelerated erosion and sedimentation in Cumberland County in violation of its permits and the Clean Streams Law.) [source]
  • March 2018: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission orders a temporary shutdown of the Mariner East 1, saying it could have a “catastrophic” effect on public safety if it leaks. The commission said the pipeline had been exposed by the appearance of sinkholes near the construction of the two other Mariner pipelines. [source]
    • May 3, 2018: PUC re-allows NGLs to flow through the pipeline after their inspectors reported the sinkholes did not pose a threat to public safety.

Impact Litigation / Court Fights

  • State Court:
    • April 26, 2021: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission administrative law judge issues $2000 fine, rules that Sunoco violated several state and federal regulations, failing to disclose risks such as “property damage, personal injury, asphyxiation, burns, death or fatality” in its public information mailers. Similarly, in mailings to emergency responders, the company failed to properly disclose the hazards of a leak, in particular the possible ignition of a chemical vapor cloud that could result.
      • Sunoco ordered by PA PUC to “update its public information pamphlets to reflect the significant ramifications of an accident, update emergency notifications to include police departments and school districts, as well as share non-confidential inspection and testing reports with local officials.,, and meet with local stakeholders to develop additional emergency training, to share emergency planning documents, and to ensure all of its pipelines are spaced far enough from other underground pipelines or utilities and buried at a safe depth.” [source]
    • March 2019: Delaware County, PA district attorney and the state attorney general’s office begin a criminal investigation of the pipeline project. FBI is investigating Gov. Wolf administration’s issuing of Mariner East pipeline permits. [source]
    • December 2018: Chester County, PA district attorney opens a criminal investigation into the pipeline project, saying sinkholes caused during construction show that the project has endangered life and property [source]
(Photo: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety)

(Photo: Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety)

[Select information and map data excerpted from Global Energy Monitor, with permission and Creative Commons license.]

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