Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sen. Dinniman Calls On PUC To Post Mariner East Pipelines Case Public Comments Online

Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) Thursday asked the Public Utility Commission to post all public comments online and on the official docket of the case regarding the suspension of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline project.
“This is a basic matter of transparency,” said Sen. Dinniman. “I thank the dozens of residents who submitted public comments in support of my petition and the emergency stop order. However, regardless of what side you’re on, I believe the PUC has a duty to make all public comments readily available on its website in order to encourage public dialogue and discussion on this issue.”
“In light of my strong belief in the need for complete openness and transparency in this process, I am posting all public comments-- both for and against the emergency stop order-- that have not been included on the PUC’s website as of June 6, 2018, on my own website [bottom on the page].”
Two weeks ago, a PUC judge sided with Dinniman and granted his petition, halting operation of the Mariner East 1 pipeline and prohibit construction of the Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X pipelines in West Whiteland Township.
Sunoco is appealing that decision to the full PUC, which is scheduled to meet on June 14.
Since then, dozens of individuals, community organizations, townships, public officials, and trade organizations have submitted comments both for and against the judge’s decision.
However, recently the PUC appears to have made a discretionary decision that all public comment filed after May 31 would neither be posted to the online docket nor be included in the official case file.
Rather, such comments are being placed in a public file only available for public view by request in person at the PUC’s headquarters, located in the Commonwealth Keystone Building at 400 North Street in Harrisburg.
That includes recent public comments submitted by West Whiteland Township, East Goshen Township, state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, and the Chester County Commissioners, among others
In urging the PUC uphold the suspension, the Chester County Commissioners blasted Sunoco for its “unwillingness to truly listen to the public’s concerns and allay them, to explain publicly the measures in place of pipeline safety, and most importantly, to be transparent about what steps are being taken and what other steps could be taken to ensure that pipelines carrying volatile liquid gases right next to homes, schools, and other gathering places are absolutely safe.”
Sen. Dinniman said the Commissioners’ statement was a perfect example of why such public comments should be available on the PUC’s website.
“Citizens have a right to easily access what their neighbors and their elected officials are saying on this issue – one that potentially impacts the very health, safety, and well-being of our communities,” Sen. Dinniman said. “I respectfully request that the PUC restore the role of public input in the process and post all comment to its website and include them on the official docket. Our residents deserve to know they’re being heard in significant public safety decisions being considered by their state agencies.”
Sen. Dinniman a filed a legal brief making that request through his attorney Mark Freed of Curtin and Heefner. You can view it here.
Public comments posted by Sen. Dinniman--
-- In Favor of the Emergency Stop Order:
-- Opposed to the Emergency Stop Order:
The case falls under PUC Docket Numbers: C-2018-3001451 and P-2018-3001453.
The PUC has a public meeting on June 14 where this issue could be discussed.
Pending Bills
Three bills sponsored by Sen. Dinniman related to pipeline safety issues have been on the Senate Calendar waiting for action since April 24.
They include: Senate Bill 835 (Dinniman-D-Chester) requiring the registration of land agents working for pipeline companies (sponsor summary); Senate Bill 930 (Dinniman-D- Chester) sets notification requirements related to pipeline emergencies (sponsor summary); and Senate Bill 931 (Dinniman-D- Chester) requires the installation of automatic or remote controlled safety values in natural gas pipelines in densely populated areas.
TransCanada Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Explosion In West Virginia

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