Friday, February 17, 2017

EHB Denies Supercedeas In Enviro Groups Appeal Of Mariner East 2 Pipeline Permits, Hearing March 1

The Environmental Hearing Board Friday denied a request for a supercedeas by environmental advocacy groups appealing DEP’s issuance of permits for Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline.
A temporary supercedeas would have prevented Sunoco from beginning construction of the pipeline until the merits of the case were decided.  Sunoco is still waiting for additional permits for the project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We are disappointed that we weren’t granted the temporary supersedeas, as each passing day leaves our rivers, forests and wetlands vulnerable to irreversible harm,” said Joe Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel, Clean Air Council. “The DEP has a duty to protect Pennsylvania’s environment, and with the inadequacy of its permits, it is failing to do so in this case. We look forward to making our case to the court as quickly as possible, to make sure that permits for this project meet the regulatory requirements meant to protect Pennsylvania’s environment and residents.”
The Board set a March 1 hearing date on the appeal.
The groups appealing DEP’s permit decision-- the Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association-- claimed DEP had failed to address the negative impacts of the project.
DEP issued the 20 DEP permits necessary for Sunoco Pipeline L.P. on Monday.
Click Here for copies of documents filed as part of the appeal.
The Mariner East 2 pipelines would span over 300 miles across 17 counties in Pennsylvania carrying natural gas liquids, including propane, butane, and ethane, which are 150 times more flammable than natural gas.
The pipeline will cross many streams, wetlands, and waterways, severely impacting Pennsylvania’s watersheds, the groups said.
DEP previously issued a multitude of deficiency letters to Sunoco Logistics in September 2016 in response to the earlier versions of the company’s permit applications, outlining hundreds of areas in need of improvement.
Clean Air Council has worked with landowners along the pipeline route for years to advocate for the rights of local residents to participate in the decisions that impact their health, welfare and quality of life and to ensure the protection of local ecosystems.
The groups believe that the issued permits should be overturned and work on the pipeline should be halted until a decision is made about the legality of the permits.
“Sunoco’s permit applications were woefully incomplete, inaccurate, and contradictory, and DEP’s review and approval was utterly inadequate,” said Joseph O. Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “What DEP has authorized with these permits is the destruction of Pennsylvania streams and wetlands, the endangerment of the public, and great damage to both public and private property.”
“It is DEP’s job and the Governor’s job to protect our natural resources and the public. Instead, they are once again betraying this obligation and the public trust in favor of aiding the fracked gas and fossil fuel industries in achieving their corporate goals. Environmental groups now have to step in and do the government’s job for them,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
Since 2002, Sunoco has received 262 incident reports and 32 enforcement actions from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), as well as 17 Notice of Probable Violation orders resulting in over $2.3 million in proposed and enforced fines.
Concerned citizens along the proposed route have found and submitted to DEP additional discrepancies in Sunoco’s updated application despite no official public comment period following Sunoco’s application resubmission.
According to a comment submitted to DEP in December 2016 by the Pipeline Safety Coalition, Executive Director, Lynda Farrell wrote, “A cursory review indicates that the December 5, 2016 submitted applications by Sunoco to the Department remain both incomplete and full of critical errors, including in areas which PADEP has addressed with the applicant.”
Pipelines Safety Coalition called for a public comment period and an immediate rejection of Sunoco’s current application
“The Mariner East 2 proposal, along with the rapid expansion of other forms of natural gas infrastructure, is a serious threat to the health and well-being of  Pennsylvanians,” said Jordan Hoover, Community Organizer at Mountain Watershed Association.
Ellen Gerhart is a landowner whose property has been targeted for the Mariner East 2 pipelines by Sunoco for years now.
“I am a recently retired public school teacher who looked forward to living quietly in my home in rural Huntingdon County,” said Gerhart. “It is unfortunate when the agencies who are entrusted with protecting the environment and the residents of Pennsylvania fail to do so. Sunoco has yet to submit a permit application that isn’t seriously flawed, yet DEP has seen fit to issue permits anyway. Our well, and our neighbor’s well, are not shown in Sunoco’s application, even though the aquifers we depend on will be impacted.”
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