Wednesday, August 18, 2021

House Environmental Committee Fails To Discuss Poor Compliance, Record $55 Million In Penalties Imposed On Natural Gas/Hazardous Liquid Pipelines In Last 5 Years

On August 17, the
House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing on the “environmental and economic benefits of pipelines” which failed to even acknowledge the over $55 million in penalties imposed by DEP and the Public Utility Commission for the failure of natural gas and hazardous liquids pipelines over the last five years.

Instead, the hearing served as a showcase for the benefits of natural gas to the economy and to address climate change and a platform for protests by the Better Path Coalition against fossil fuels.

Testimony was presented by--

-- John Stoody, vice president of government and public relations, Association of Oil PipeLines;

-- Keith Coyle, chair of the Pipeline Safety Workgroup, Marcellus Shale Coalition;

-- Paul Hartman, senior policy advisor, American Petroleum Institute (API);

-- David Horn, eastern PA construction market representative, Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA);

-- David Butterworth, business agent, Pipeliners Local Union 798; and

-- David Marks, board of directors member, PA Independent Oil & Gas Association

Pipeline Policy Issues

A report on pipelines by The Nature Conservancy projected the miles of pipelines in Pennsylvania will at least quadruple by 2030.  Read more here.

The Public Utility Commission enforces the safety requirements for a total of 81,213 miles of pipelines of several types-- gas distribution mains (48,139 miles), natural gas distribution services (28,933 miles), natural gas gathering lines (799 miles), natural gas transmission lines (1,275 miles) and hazardous liquids (2,067 miles).  Read more here.

Pipelines have exploded, leaked and polluted streams all over Pennsylvania.  DEP and the Public Utility Commission have fined natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines over $55 million for environmental and safety law violations.

In 2018, the brand new Revolution Natural Gas Pipeline exploded in Beaver County causing property and natural resource damage, but fortunately no deaths or injuries.  It has so far resulted in fines and penalties of over $30 million by DEP [Read more here] and the Public Utility Commission proposed a $1 million penalty [Read more here].

In 2016, a natural gas pipeline exploded in Westmoreland County injuring one person, searing about 40 acres of farmland and causing property damage.  Read more here.

The construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline across the state has resulted in hundreds of leaks and discharges, sinkholes, damage to private water wells, even pollution to Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County and the lake at Marsh Creek State Park in Chester County.

A 2019 report by Trout Unlimited further documents spills, pollution incidents along the Mariner East 2 Pipelines and others in Appalachia.  Read more here

Fines and penalties for Mariner East 2 Pipeline violations now exceed over $16.3 million, just in Pennsylvania.  Read more here.

In discussions surrounding legislation to expand coverage of the PA One Call Program to prevent construction and digging equipment from hitting underground utility and pipelines, advocates said about half of the accidental hits each year-- about 3,000 cases-- involved striking natural gas pipelines of one type or another.  Read more here.

The PA Environment Digest issued a policy paper on August 3 pointing out natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines are not required by federal or state agencies to have or show proof of general liability or environmental liability insurance or produce a financial assurance plan that demonstrates they can pay for damages the operation of their facilities may cause.

Neighbors and communities sitting along pipeline routes  now rely on the good intentions of pipeline companies to pay for these damages, and they have in most cases, but what about in the future?  Read more here.

Click Here to watch a video of the hearing and protests [when available].

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:

(Photos: Revolution Pipeline explosion in Beaver County; protesters from Better Path Coalition.)


-- Bay Journal - Ad Crable: Natural Gas Investigations In PA Lead To Record Fine, Closed Pipelines

-- LancasterOnline - Brad Bumsted: Why Were So Many Of The People Who Assaulted The U.S. Capitol On Jan. 6 From Pennsylvania?

Related Articles - Since March 2016:

-- Natural Gas, Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Are NOT Required To Carry Insurance Or Show They Can Pay For Damages If They Explode, Leak Or Kill Someone 

-- DEP: Collects $85,000 Penalty For Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Violations In Blair, Cumberland, Juniata, Lebanon Counties  

-- DEP Order Requires Payment Of $125,000 Penalty For Latest Revolution Natural Gas Pipeline Construction Violations In Beaver County

-- DEP Collects $497,000, Fish & Boat Commission Collects $25,855 In Penalties For Latest Violations Involving Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction In Lebanon County

-- PUC Bureau Of Investigation Proposes $1 Million Penalty For Multiple Violations That Led To Explosion Of Revolution Natural Gas Pipeline In Beaver County

-- DEP Orders Energy Transfer Partners To Keep Natural Gas Out Of Unstable Sections Of Revolution Pipeline That Exploded In 2018

-- Chester County District Attorney Files Civil Complaint Against Sunoco/Energy Transfer On Mariner East Pipeline To Address Environmental Violations

-- DEP Settlements Impose Total Of $427,650 In Penalties On EQM For Pipeline Construction Violations in Greene, Washington, Westmoreland Counties

-- DEP Collects $736,000 From TransCo For Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Violations In 9 Counties

-- PUC Orders Sunoco Pipeline L.P. To Conduct Public Education & Awareness Meeting In Cumberland County

-- DEP Orders Sunoco To Reroute 1+ Mile Of Mariner East Pipeline, Investigate Chester County Marsh Creek Lake Spill, Restore Impacted Resources

-- DEP Assesses $355,000 Penalty On Sunoco For 2018, 2019 Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Violations

-- DEP: CNX Gas Pays $310,000 Penalty For Violations During, After Pipeline Construction In Washington County

-- AG Shapiro Charges National Fuel Gas Supply, Subcontractor With Environmental Crimes Related To Pipeline Construction In Washington County

-- PUC Requires Remaining Life Study, Public Reporting On Integrity Of Sunoco's Mariner East I Pipeline; Issues $200,000 Penalty

-- DEP Issues $1.95 Million Penalty To Sunoco For Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Violations At Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County

-- DEP Issues $30.6 Million Penalty Over ETC Revolution Pipeline Explosion Violations; Lifts Permit Bar

-- DEP Orders Sunoco To Cover Exposed Natural Gas Liquids, Other Petroleum Pipelines At 43 Locations Across The State

-- DEP Issues Sunoco $319,461 In Penalties For Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Violations In 2017, 2018; Fines Now Total $13 Million+

-- DEP Orders Energy Transfer To Restore Waterways Impacted During Construction Of Revolution Pipeline In 4 Counties

-- $200,000 Penalty Proposed In PUC Settlement Of 2017 Mariner East 1 Pipeline Leak Case

-- Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction To Go Right Through Girls Softball Field, Threaten Season In Chester County

-- DEP Assesses $1.5 Million Penalty Against Beta Trunk Pipeline For Unstable Slope, Construction Violations In Greene County

-- DEP Puts Indefinite Hold On Reviewing Permits For All Energy Transfer/Sunoco Pipeline Projects In PA

-- PUC Enforcement Bureau Proposes $225,000 Penalty For 2017 Ethane/Propane Leak From Mariner East 1 Pipeline In Berks County

-- DEP Fines EQT $294,000 For Release Of 4 Million Gallons Of Abandoned Mine Drainage Into Monongahela River

-- DEP Assesses $148,000 Penalty Against Mariner East 2 Pipeline For Violations in Berks, Chester, Lebanon Counties

-- CNX Gas Company Pays $250,000 Penalty For Marchland 3 Pipeline Violations In Indiana County

-- PUC Judge Issues Order To Shut Down Mariner East 1, 2, 2x Pipelines, Sunoco To Appeal

-- DEP Fines Mariner East 2 Pipeline Additional $355,000 For Violations

-- PUC Orders Shutdown Of Mariner East 1 Pipeline After Sinkholes Expose Bare Pipeline In Chester County

-- Sunoco Mariner East II Pipeline Fined $12.6 Million, DEP Allows Construction To Resume

-- DEP Suspends Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Permits

-- Environmental Hearing Board Orders Halt On All Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Drilling

-- DEP Takes More Action On Mariner East 2 Pipeline Violations, Statement On EHB Order

-- Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction Results In Another Spill In Delaware County

-- Sunoco Spills Slurry In Delaware County While Drilling Under Chester Creek For Mariner East 2 Pipeline

-- DEP: EM Energy Pipeline Assessed $185,000 Penalty For Surface Water, Wetland Impacts

-- DEP Fines Rice Energy Subsidiaries $3.5 Million At 10 Well Sites, 6 Pipeline Locations

-- DEP Fines Pipeline Companies $174K For Changing Plans Without Approval

-- DEP: Stonehenge Appalachia Pipeline To Pay $1.5M Penalty For Environmental Violations

[Posted: August 18, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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