Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Environmental Groups Appeal DEP Agreement With Sunoco Allowing Restart Of Mariner East 2 Construction, Sue For Breach Of Contract

On Wednesday, Clean Air Council, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association, Inc. filed two new lawsuits against the Department of Environmental Protection and Sunoco Pipeline L.P. for unlawful conduct related to Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipelines.
On February 8, 2018, DEP and Sunoco entered into a Consent Order and Agreement that allowed Sunoco to resume construction activities that had been shut down by DEP on January 3, 2018 because of the mounting list of Sunoco’s willful and egregious permit violations.  
The Consent Order and Agreement walked back environmental protections that DEP and Sunoco had previously committed to in their August 2017 settlement with the groups, and in particular, weakened the protocols for preventing and responding to drilling fluid spills.
These spills, most frequently the result of Sunoco’s poor horizontal directional drilling practices, have contaminated drinking water supplies and other natural resources across the state.  
The groups appealed the February 8, 2018 Consent Order and Agreement with the Environmental Hearing Board and filed a separate breach of contract complaint in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, including a request for an injunction.  
“It is unacceptable that groups like ours had to force DEP and Sunoco to agree to these important environmental protections in the first place.  To walk back legally-required protections now not only violates our agreement, it is an incredible breach of the public’s trust by an agency that is supposed to be serving them,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council.
“When DEP halted construction of Mariner East 2, it seemed like they were finally listening to the concerns of impacted residents and communities. However, by allowing construction to resume and scaling back hard-fought environmental protections, DEP leaves us no other choice but to take legal action yet again to protect citizens’ rights,” said Melissa Marshall, an attorney with Mountain Watershed Association.
“DEP has demonstrated a tremendous bias in support of pipelines serving the fracking industry.  As a result, communities are being consistently abused by the industry with the full support of the DEP.  DEP entering into an agreement with Sunoco that ignores their obligations to our organizations and the communities we represent, is a sad testament to just how in bed with the industry DEP is,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
For more information on DEP’s actions, visit DEP’s Mariner East II Pipeline webpage.
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