Tuesday, August 8, 2017

EHB Approves Sunoco, Groups, DEP Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Settlement

Late Tuesday, the owner of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline Sunoco, the groups appealing the pipeline permits and DEP gave a proposed settlement agreement to Environmental Hearing Board Judge Bernard A. Labuskes, Jr. for his review and approval. The settlement was approved on Wednesday.
The groups appealing the DEP pipeline permits include the Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association and the Delaware RiverKeeper Network.
“The harms that Sunoco’s recklessness is causing the public and the environment should have never happened.  The governor instructed the PA DEP to issue these permits by a specific date despite the many flaws in the applications.  DEP caved to the pressure and ignored the deficiencies. Unless our elected officials start taking the public health threat from building natural gas infrastructure seriously, this is bound to continue to happen,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council.
“With this settlement, we are getting better protections for our community and the environment which is good,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “But it is wrong that our organizations had to bring this legal action to get us to this point. Sunoco should have complied with the law. DEP should have enforced the law and fulfilled its constitutional obligation to protect our environment. Instead, it fell to our community-supported environmental organizations to do so. But we are glad we had the legal talent and resources to do so.”
"Though Sunoco's horizontal directional drilling has already caused significant harm to communities and ecosystems throughout Pennsylvania, the settlement takes necessary actions to protect from further damages,” said Melissa Marshall, attorney with Mountain Watershed Association.  
The proposed agreement requires Sunoco to redo its evaluation of 47 of the 55 horizontal drilling sites on which the EHB originally stopped construction.  The construction ban continues until the evaluations are completed and the resulting report and any changes to construction methods or precautions are approved by DEP and reviewed by the appealing parties.
The evaluation is to includes a geological review, evaluation of possible re-routing of the horizontal drilling areas and other technical reviews.  It must also include all actions taken by Sunoco to eliminate, reduce or control the release of drilling fluids to surface or groundwater.
The agreement requires Sunoco to identify all landowners within 450 feet of the horizontal drilling areas and notify them they have the opportunity to have their water supplies sampled before, during and after start or re-start of horizontal drilling.
Sunoco has also agreed to revisions to its Pollution Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan, Water Supply Assessment and Void Mitigation Plan for Karst Terrain relating to preventing and dealing with any spills or contamination that result from pipeline construction.
The settlement provides several lists of horizontal drilling areas where each of the provisions apply.
Click Here for a copy of the EHB order based on the settlement.
The August 9 Board hearing on the pipeline case was canceled.
Also included in the EHB docket was a letter to the Board from Senators John Rafferty (R) and Andrew Dinniman (D) expressing concerns about the pipeline project on behalf of residents in Chester County affected by the construction.
Click Here for a copy of EHB documents related to this case (Case #2017-009).
For more information on permits related to this pipeline, visit DEP’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline webpage.
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