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By sandbagger2
#490317
Lawmaker asks Pa. attorney general to investigate pro-pipeline emails
AUGUST 21, 2017 | 6:35 PM
BY JON HURDLE

The path to be taken by the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County. A state lawmaker says pipeline supporters may have used hacked email addresses in an attempt to build public support for the pipeline.
LINDSAY LAZARSKI / WHYY

The path to be taken by the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County. A state lawmaker says pipeline supporters may have used hacked email addresses in an attempt to show public support for the pipeline.
Hundreds of emails in support of the Mariner East 2 pipeline have been sent to the office of a state lawmaker in the names of individual residents, some of whom deny sending them.

State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, a Delaware County Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of the Sunoco Pipeline project, said Monday she has in the last three and a half weeks received about 400 copies of the same email which urges her to support the pipeline and to avoid any delays in its current construction.

By Monday afternoon, seven of the purported senders of the emails had told Krueger-Braneky’s staff that they have no knowledge of the messages that were sent in their names, and that they suspect their addresses were hacked.

In attempting to reply to the emails starting last Friday, Krueger-Braneky’s staff first found that 20 bounced back because the addresses were bad, and then found some of the recipients said they had never sent the emails in the first place.

“More alarming, we heard from seven constituents right away who told us that they never sent the original email. Many of the people who wrote back to us do not support the pipeline and are upset that their email address was used,” she said.

She said some of the emails were received in the middle of the night, and at precise 10-minute intervals, suggesting that they were sent automatically rather than by individuals. The 400 emails were the most she has received on a single topic since taking office two years ago, she said.

The original email is available under the “take action” section of the web site of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, a pro-pipeline organization that includes trade groups, chambers of commerce and economic development agencies. One of its members, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company is not a member of the alliance but shares its goals of expanding energy infrastructure.

Krueger-Braneky said she had reported the incidents to the state Attorney General’s office. Joe Grace, a spokesman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, said: “Representative Krueger-Braneky has been in touch with our office and we’re aware of this matter. We take the protection of people’s online personal information and privacy seriously.”

Sunoco’s Shields said the emails were not sent by Sunoco or by Bravo Group, the company’s Harrisburg-based public relations firm.

Critics of Mariner East 2 have accused Sunoco of using controversial tactics in an effort to build public support for the pipeline. Among them was a campaign to “neutralize opposition” to the project, as stated by Bravo Group, which has now taken the language off its web site.

Asked whether it had anything to do with the emails, Bravo itself issued a statement saying: “Bravo Group seeks to build trust between clients and the public by sharing facts. That is how we approach every project. The tactics you describe are not how we operate.”

Earlier this month, a pipeline opponent named Dallas Goldtooth posted Facebook videos showing a pipeline supporter identifying himself by two different names as he defended both the Mariner East 2 in Pennsylvania and a Louisiana pipeline that is being built by Sunoco’s parent, Energy Transfer Partners.

Sunoco’s Shields said the company had no connection with the pipeline supporter in the videos.

“We are not familiar with the person referenced in the video, and we are not affiliated with him in any way,” Shields said. “We respect everyone’s right to lawfully protest and will continue to do so.”

The emails, with the subject line “Don’t delay important PA infrastructure,” argue for the importance of the cross-state natural gas liquids pipeline to the state’s economy, and say that the project has revitalized the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex where the products will be stored and exported.

After several tumultuous weeks in which drilling fluids have been spilled in dozens of places, private water wells contaminated, and drilling temporarily halted by a judge, the emails also acknowledge that there is “nothing pretty” about large construction projects like Mariner East 2. But they argue that the horizontal directional drilling that has caused the recent incidents is less environmentally damaging than the alternative of open-trench construction.

“This project is a critical infrastructure project and should be allowed to continue within the regulatory guidelines without an unnecessary halt to the progression of construction,” say the emails.

The judge lifted the drilling ban but imposed a series of conditions on Sunoco in a settlement agreement between the company and three environmental groups that sought to extend the halt to drilling. The conditions include reassessing the geology at drilling sites, obtaining new clearances from the Department of Environmental Protection, and giving more notice to nearby home owners before drilling starts.

Following the settlement agreement, Krueger-Braneky replied to the 400 emails, saying she recognized the economic potential of the pipeline but stressed that it needs to be safe.

“Economic development in Delaware County and all of Southeastern PA is very important to me, as is the future sustainability of energy projects,” she said. “We must make sure that any construction project, including pipeline projects, are carried through safely and with consideration for the people and property affected by the project.”

The more than $2.5 billion pipeline will carry propane, butane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale of southwest Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook. Construction began in February, and is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter, later than the third quarter previously anticipated by the company.
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By sandbagger2
#490319
Sunoco to dismiss 94 employees at its former Delco HQ
Updated: AUGUST 21, 2017 — 5:31 PM EDT
by Andrew Maykuth, Staff Writer @Maykuth | amaykuth@phillynews.com


Sunoco LP has notified 94 employees at its Newtown Square offices that they will lose their jobs ahead of the company’s planned divestiture of most of its fuel stations to 7-Eleven Inc. by the end of the year.

The formal layoff notice, filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, will shrink Sunoco’s workforce in the region to about 150 employees, said Alyson B. Gomez, a spokeswoman for the company, which moved its headquarters from Newtown Square to Dallas in 2015. The layoff notice is effective Oct. 13.

“Sunoco LP will continue to have a presence in the Philadelphia area while we maintain the functions needed to support the remaining critical elements of our business,” Gomez said in an email Monday. She added that 7-Eleven may also extend job offers to some of the employees to work with the new owners.

Sunoco, which is the retail fuel-marketing arm of the former Philadelphia oil company, announced in April that it would sell about 1,100 convenience stores to 7-Eleven for $3.3 billion to allow it to focus more on its wholesale fuel-supply business. Under a 15-year agreement, the stores will continue to market fuel under Sunoco’s brand.

Energy Transfer Partners LP bought Sunoco in 2012, along with its affiliated company, Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, which also maintains offices in Newtown Square. Energy Transfer absorbed Sunoco Logistics earlier this year. The company’s Sunoco Pipeline subsidiary is building the Mariner East project to deliver Marcellus Shale gas liquids by pipeline to Marcus Hook.
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By sandbagger2
#490355
Court rejects pipeline project on climate concerns
BY TIMOTHY CAMA - 08/22/17 11:08 AM EDT


Court rejects pipeline project on climate concerns
An appeals court on Tuesday rejected the federal government’s approval of a natural gas pipeline project in the southeastern U.S., citing concerns about its impact on climate change.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly analyze the climate impact from burning the natural gas that the project would deliver to power plants.

The ruling is significant because it adds to environmentalists’ arguments that analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act — the law governing all environmental reviews of federal decisions — must consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The case concerns the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, which is meant to bring gas to Florida to fuel existing and planned power plants.
The Sierra Club sued FERC following its 2016 approval of the project. The environmental group brought a series of objections to the project and its environmental review, but the court denied all of the objections except the one focused on greenhouse gas.

The environmental impact statement for the project “should have either given a quantitative estimate of the downstream greenhouse emissions that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport or explained more specifically why it could not have done so,” Judge Thomas Griffith, who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote in the opinion. He was joined by Judge Judith Ann Wilson Rogers, one of President Bill Clinton's nominees.

“As we have noted, greenhouse-gas emissions are an indirect effect of authorizing this project, which FERC could reasonably foresee, and which the agency has legal authority to mitigate,” Griffith said.

“Quantification would permit the agency to compare the emissions from this project to emissions from other projects, to total emissions from the state or the region, or to regional or national emissions-control goals. Without such comparisons, it is difficult to see how FERC could engage in ‘informed decision making’ with respect to the greenhouse-gas effects of this project, or how ‘informed public comment’ could be possible,” the court wrote, quoting previous cases regarding environmental reviews.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, another Bush nominee, dissented from the ruling, arguing that FERC does not have the authority to take action to reduce the greenhouse gas impact of pipelines it approves, so it is not obligated to analyze some impacts.

The court’s decision overturns the project’s federal approval and returns the issue to FERC to complete the necessary greenhouse gas analysis.
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By sandbagger2
#490389
Pipeline Sets World Record For Environmental Violations
August 21, 2017 admin 0 Comments


Energy Transfer Partners’ controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.

The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.

Rover has accrued 104 violations since construction of the $4.2 billion project in started in March.

In May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Energy Transfer’s request to resume horizontal directional drilling at two sites for the Rover Pipeline after numerous leaks into Ohio’s wetlands as well as various Clean Air and Clean Water act violations across the state.

Blackstone announced last month it was spending $1.57 billion for a 32 percent stake in the troubled project.

“Rover will be built in compliance with all safety and environmental regulations and in some instances we will exceed those requirements,” Energy Transfer spokeswoman Alexis Daniel told Bloomberg in response to the violation tally.

Energy Transfer owns about 71,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil pipelines across the country and is the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Citing numbers from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, TheStreet reported in June that the Dallas-based firm spilled hazardous liquids near water crossings more than twice the frequency of any other U.S. pipeline company this decade.

But spills are not the only problem. A June study by Oil Change International highlighted how the Rover pipeline will fuel a massive increase in climate pollution, causing as much greenhouse gas pollution as 42 coal-fired power plants—some 145 million metric tons per year.
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By sandbagger2
#490727
Pipeline brings grief to Delco development
By Leslie Krowchenko, Times Correspondent
POSTED: 09/16/17, 10:30 PM EDT | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO 0 COMMENTS


The view from Jennifer and Stephen Degnan’s deck once included numerous trees separating the house from Duffer’s Tavern.
SUBMITTED PHOTO The view from Jennifer and Stephen Degnan’s deck once included numerous trees separating the house from Duffer’s Tavern.
THORNBURY >> With youngsters riding trikes, kids kicking soccer balls and families walking dogs, Andover seems like a typical subdivision.

The orange barriers, “no trespassing” signs and open space disturbance, however, are eroding into its white picket fence normalcy.

Andover is one of a number of developments, businesses and schools throughout the state, including in Delaware and Chester counties, effected by the Sunoco Pipeline L.P. Mariner East 2 project. The intrusion of the installation has become an unwanted part of everyday life.

“Personal property rights, personal safety issues and personal well-being have all been set aside,” said homeowner Jennifer Degnan. “From the governor’s decision all the way down to local municipalities – to give full reign to Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco and their contractors is truly is a sad day for Pennsylvanians.”

Spanning Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, Mariner East 2 is a 350-mile pipeline system slated to bring natural gas liquids such as propane, ethane and butane to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex. Approximately 11.4 miles would be installed in Delaware County across private and public property in the township, Edgmont, Middletown, Aston and Upper Chichester, ending at the facility.

The private property issue is one of several with which the Andover homeowners’ association has taken exception. The development of 39 single family homes on approximately 42 acres, bounded by routes 352 and 926, includes 40 percent open space as required by municipal code.

The association claims, however, that Sunoco’s easement is part of that open space and the project has reduced the tract below the minimum size. It has questioned whether the work was completed within the limits of the easement or strayed into the communal land.

“The land is our park,” said Eric Friedman. “It has a trail system, provides a buffer and is for the use and enjoyment of Andover residents and their guests.”

The homeowners have also appealed the township zoning, building and electrical permits issued to Sunoco for Mariner East 1 and the highway occupancy permit granted by PennDOT, which has allowed the company to build construction roads accessing the highways. Each issue is under litigation.

The stumps are all that remain of nearly half the buffer between Kathy Ventresca’s deck and the traffic on Middletown Road, Route 352. Nearly 30 of the evergreens planted behind her house when the development was built in 2007 have been removed, taking with them the natural sound barrier and privacy protection.

“This land was an old apple orchard and the builder replaced the trees one-for-one,” she said. “I work from home and the buffer was nice when I was on the phone.”

In addition to the newer trees, Mark and Jennifer Berlinger, who live in a 1798 farmhouse, have seen the loss of an ash, black walnut and 150-year-old ginkgo near their property. The massive plantings not only added to the historic nature of their home, which contains a beehive oven and root cellar, but provided a layer of safety and security.

“Many of us bought our houses because of the open space that is part of our community property and the trails where we could walk our dogs and instead for the next two years we have this,” said Jennifer Berlinger. “If we found jobs elsewhere and decided to move, who would want to come to this construction zone.”

Jennifer and Stephen Degnan’s house abuts the open space on two sides, both of which have been commandeered as part of the pipeline route. The buffer between their residence and Duffer’s Tavern has been removed for the above ground valve station and permanent road approximately 30 feet from their home.

“We can look in Duffer’s window and see what is on TV and their customers can look inside our house and see what we are watching,” said Jennifer Degnan. “The noise is much louder, both from traffic and from Duffer’s customers, and we have headlights from the parking lot coming in our windows.”

The Degnans’ yard has always been a magnet for neighborhood kids and she felt comfortable telling them to “go outside and play” without constant supervision. She now feels the need, however, to watch from the deck.

“I don’t know who these people are,” she added. “Our school district has a built-in security system that requires people coming in the building to show proper identification, but there’s nothing like that here.”

The couple also pointed to the valve site posted with a sign prohibiting actions such as smoking, cell phone use and vehicle idling with 25 feet. Workers in hard hats, however, can at times be seen engaged in the banned activities closer than the designated distance.

The line of demarcation between the properties and the work site, once sprayed with fluorescent orange paint, was replaced recently with similarly-colored fencing and “Keep Out-Authorized Personnel Only” signs. The original lack of a physical barrier resulted in contractors calling the Pennsylvania State Police multiple times when it appeared homeowners were “trespassing” on their own open space, said Friedman.

“We were walking on land that we have walked on as long as we have lived here. No one tried to talk or interfere with the contractors, but if we stepped over the line, they called,” he added. “The association has appreciated the Pennsylvania State Police and the courtesies and professionalism they have displayed.”

Members also noted what they perceived as a lack of support from the township. Like most homeowners, buying a house is typically the largest purchase they will ever make and the 4,000-square-foot houses, with asking prices close to $1 million, represent a significant investment in their lives and the more than $12,000 in annual property taxes provides substantial revenue to the municipality.

“This makes you feel abandoned by your supervisors,” said Mark Berlinger. “They could have played a larger role in stopping Sunoco, but they didn’t.”

While the noise and lights are a short-term inconvenience, the possibility of a leak of pressurized gas represents a looming threat. Construction has also exposed high levels of lead, arsenic and dieldrin, compounds covered by grass and impervious surfaces which have been disturbed.

“We bought in 2015 and anticipate raising our kids and living here for the next 30-40 years,” said Mike Walsh. “This is a failure from the top down.”
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By sandbagger2
#490828
Mariner East 2 Pipeline Risks

Mariner East 2 Pipeline Risks

Dr. Kirk Jalbert has authored an analysis of the explosion risks of the Mariner East proposal of Sunoco Pipeline. His analysis of a 20 inch diameter pipeline transporting ethane would have a blast radius of 1,171 feet. He estimated 105,419 people to live within the Mariner East 2’s thermal impact zone. The threat to these individuals could be a significant consideration as to eminent domain power and who would be the primary and paramount beneficiary of such a pipeline.

Mariner East 2: At-Risk Schools and Populations

Written by: Kirk Jalbert, Manager of Community-Based Research & Engagement
with technical assistance from Seth Kovnant | Published in FracTracker Alliance

In September, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rejected a number of permits for wetland crossings and sedimentation control that were required for Sunoco Pipeline’s proposed “Mariner East 2” pipeline. According to Sunoco, the proposed Mariner East 2 is a $2.5 billion, 350-mile-long pipeline that would be one of the largest pipeline construction projects in Pennsylvania’s history.

If built, Mariner East 2 could transport up to 450,000 barrels (18,900,000 gallons) per day of propane, ethane, butane, and other liquefied hydrocarbons from the shale fields of western Pennsylvania to export terminals in Marcus Hook, located just outside Philadelphia. A second proposed pipeline, if constructed, could carry an additional 250,000 barrels (10,500,000 gallons) per day of these same materials. Sunoco submitted revised permit applications to PADEP on Tuesday, December 6th.

The industry often refers to ethane, propane and butane collectively as “natural gas liquids.” They are classified by the federal government as “hazardous, highly volatile liquids,” but that terminology is also misleading. These materials, which have not been transported through densely populated southeast Pennsylvania previously, are liquid only at very high pressure or extremely cold temperatures. At the normal atmospheric conditions experienced outside the pipeline, these materials volatilize into gas which is colorless; odorless; an asphyxiation hazard; heavier than air; and extremely flammable of explosive. This gas can travel downhill and downwind for long distances while remaining combustible. It can collect (and remain for long periods of time) in low-lying areas; and things as ordinary as a cell phone, a doorbell or a light switch are capable of providing an ignition source.

Many who have followed the proposed Mariner East 2 project note that, while much has been written about the likely environmental impacts, insufficient investigation has been conducted into safety risks to those who live, work and attend schools in the proposed pipeline’s path. We address these risks in this article, and, in doing so, emphasize the importance of regulatory agencies allowing public comments on the project’s resubmitted permit applications.

The Inherent Risks of Artificially Liquified Gas

Resident of Pennsylvania do not need to look far for examples of how pipeline accidents pose serious risk. For instance, the 2015 explosion of the Enterprise ATEX (Appalachia to Texas) pipeline near Follansbee, WV, provides a depiction of what a Mariner East 2 pipeline failure could look like. This 20-inch diameter pipeline carrying liquid ethane is similar in many ways to the proposed Mariner East 2. When it ruptured in rural West Virginia, close to the Pennsylvania border, it caused damage in an area that extended 2,000 feet—about ½ square mile—from the place where the pipeline failed.

salempa-pipeline-explosion

In another recent instance, the Spectra Energy Texas Eastern methane natural gas pipeline ruptured in Salem, PA, this April as a result of corroded welding. The explosion, seen above (photo by PA NPR State Impact), completely destroyed a house 200ft. away. Another house, 800ft. away, sustained major damage and its owner received 3rd degree burns. These incidents are not unique. FracTracker’s recent analysis found that there have been 4,215 pipeline incidents nation-wide since 2010, resulting in 100 reported fatalities, 470 injuries, and property damage exceeding $3.4 billion (“incident” is an industry term meaning “a pipeline failure or inadvertent release of its contents.” It does not necessarily connote “a minor event”).

Calculating Immediate Ignition Impact Zones

It is difficult to predict the blast radius for materials like ethane, propane and butane. Methane, while highly flammable or explosive, is lighter than air and so tends to disperse upon release into the atmosphere. Highly volatile liquids like ethane, propane and butane, on the other hand, tend to concentrate close to the ground and to spread laterally downwind. A large, dispersed vapor cloud of these materials may quickly spread great distances, even under very light wind conditions. A worst-case scenario would by highly variable since gas migration and dispersion is dependent on topography, leak characteristics, and atmospheric conditions. In this scenario, unignited gas would be allowed to migrate as an unignited vapor cloud for a couple miles before finding an ignition source that causes an explosion that encompasses the entire covered area tracing back to the leak source. Ordinary devices like light switches or cell phones can serve as an ignition source for the entire vapor cloud. One subject matter expert recently testified before a Municipal Zoning Hearing board that damage could be expected at a distance of three miles from the source of a large scale release.

The federal government’s “potential impact radius” (PIR) formula, used for natural gas (methane) isn’t directly applicable because of differences in the characteristics of the material. It may however be possible to quantify an Immediate Ignition Impact Zone. This represents the explosion radius that could occur if ignition occurs BEFORE the gas is able to migrate.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) provides instructions for calculating the PIR of a methane natural gas pipeline. The PIR estimates the range within which a potential failure could have significant impact on people or property. The PIR is established using the combustion energy and pipeline-specific fuel mass of methane to determine a blast radius: PIR = 0.69*sqrt(p*d^2). Where: PIR = Potential Impact Radius (in feet), p = maximum allowable operating pressure (in pounds per square inch), d = nominal pipeline diameter (in inches), and 0.69 is a constant applicable to natural gas

The Texas Eastern pipeline can use the PIR equation as-is since it carries methane natural gas. However, since Mariner East 2 is primarily carrying ethane, propane, and butane NGLs, the equation must be altered. Ethane, propane, butane, and methane have very similar combustion energies (about 50-55 MJ/kg). Therefore, the PIR equation can be updated for each NGL based on the mass density of the flow material as follows: PIR = 0.69*sqrt(r*p*d^2). Where: r = the density ratio of hydrocarbons with similar combustion energy to methane natural gas. At 1,440 psi, methane remains a gas with a mass density 5 times less than liquid ethane at the same pressure:

me2_pir_table1

The methane density relationships for ethane, propane, and butane can be used to calculate an immediate-ignition blast radius for each hydrocarbon product. The below table shows the results assuming a Mariner East 2-sized 20-inch diameter pipe operating at Mariner East 2’s 1,440psi maximum operating pressure:

me2_pir_table2

Using these assumptions, the blast radius can be derived as a function of pressure for each hydrocarbon for the same 20in. diameter pipe:

me2-impact-chart

Note the sharp increase in blast radius for each natural gas liquid product. The pressure at which this sharp increase occurs corresponds with the critical pressure where each product transitions to a liquid state and becomes significantly denser, and in turn, contains more explosive power. These products will always be operated above their respective critical pressures when in transport, meaning their blast radius will be relatively constant, regardless of operating pressure.

Additional information on these calculations can be found in the Delaware County-based Middletown Coalition for Community Safety’s written testimony to the Pennsylvania Legistlature.

Living in the Mariner East 2 Immediate Impact Zone

Using the above calculations, FracTracker has created a new map of the Mariner East 2 pipeline using a highly-detailed GIS shapefile recently supplied by the DEP. On this map, we identify a 1,300ft radius “buffer” from Mariner East 2’s proposed route (the averaged Immediate Ignition Blast Radius for ethane, propane, and butane). However, we must recognize that this buffer represents a best case scenario in the event of a major pipeline accident. We then located all public and private schools, environmental justice census tracts, and estimated number of people who live within this buffer in order to get a clearer picture of the pipeline’s hidden risks.

Proposed Mariner East 2 Immediate Impact Zone with At-Risk Schools and Populations

Populations at Risk

In order to estimate the number of people who live within the impact zone, we first identified census blocks that intersect the hazardous buffer. Second, we calculated the percentage of that census block’s area that lies within the buffer. Finally, we used the ratio to determine the percentage of the block’s population that lies within the buffer. In total, there are an estimated 105,419 people living within a reasonable projection of the proposed Mariner East 2’s impact zone. The totals for each of the 17 counties in Mariner East 2’s trajectory can be found in the interactive map. The top five counties with the greatest number of at-risk residents are:

Chester County (31,632 residents in PIR)
Delaware County (17,791 residents in PIR)
Westmoreland County (11,183 residents in PIR)
Cumberland County (10,498 residents in PIR)
Berks County (7,644 residents in PIR)

Environmental Justice Areas

Environmental justice designations are defined by the DEP as any census tract where 20% or more of the population lives in poverty and/or 30% or more of the population identifies as a minority. These numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, last updated in 2010, and by the federal poverty guidelines. Mariner East 2 crosses through four environmental justice areas:

Census Tract 4064.02, Delaware County
Census Tract 125, Cambria County
Census Tract 8026, Westmoreland County
Census Tract 8028, Westmoreland County

me2-ej-census-tracts

DEP policies promise enhanced public participation opportunities in environmental justice communities during permitting processes for large development projects. No additional public participation opportunities were provided to these communities. Furthermore, no public hearings were held whatsoever in Cambria County and Delaware County. The hearing held in Westmoreland County took place in Youngwood, nine miles away from Jeanette. Pipelines are not specified on the “trigger list” that determines what permits receive additional scrutiny, however the policy does allow for “opt-in permits” if the DEP believes they warrant special consideration. One would assume that a proposed pipeline project with the potential to affect the safety of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians qualifies for additional attention.

At-Risk Schools

One of the most concerning aspects of our findings is the astounding number of schools in the path of Mariner East 2. Based on data obtained from the U.S. Department of Education on the locations of schools in Pennsylvania, a shocking 23 public (common core) schools and 17 private schools were found within Mariner East 2’s best-case impact zone. In one instance, a school was discovered to be only 7 feet away from the pipeline’s intended path. Students and staff at these schools have virtually no chance to exercise their only possible response to a large scale release of highly volatile liquids, which is immediate on-foot evacuation.

me2-middletown-highMiddletown High School in Dauphin County in close proximity to ME2

One reason for the high number of at-risk schools is that Mariner East 2 is proposed to roughly follow the same right of way as an older pipeline built in the 1930s (now marketed by Sunoco as “Mariner East 1.”). A great deal of development has occurred since that time, including many new neighborhoods, businesses and public buildings. It is worth noting that the U.S. Department of Education’s data represents the center point of schools. In many cases, we found playgrounds and other school facilities were much closer to Mariner East 2, as can be seen in the above photograph. Also of note is the high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch programs at these schools, suggesting that many are located in disproportionately poorer communities.

Click here to view a complete list of at-risk schools

Conclusion

Now that PADEP has received revised permit applications from Sunoco, presumably addressing September’s long list of technical deficiencies, the agency will soon make a decision as to whether or not additional public participation is required before approving the project. Given the findings in our analysis, it should be clear that the public must have an extended opportunity to review and comment on the proposed Mariner East 2. In fact, public participation was extremely helpful to DEP in the initial review process, providing technical and contextual information.

It is, furthermore, imperative that investigations into the potential impacts of Mariner East 2 extend to assess the safety of nearby residents and students, particularly in marginalized communities. Thus far, no indication has been made by the DEP that this will be the case. However, the Pennsylvania Sierra Club has established a petition for residents to voice their desire for a public comment period and additional hearings.

Seth Kovnat is the chief structural engineer for an aerospace engineering firm in Southeastern PA, and regularly consults with regard to the proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline. In November, Seth’s expertise in structural engineering and his extensive knowledge of piping and hazardous materials under pressure were instrumental in providing testimony at a Pennsylvania Senate and House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee discussion during the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Citizens Panel. Seth serves on the board of Middletown Coalition for Community Safety and is a member of the Mariner East 2 Safety Advisory Committee for Middletown Township, PA. He is committed to demonstrating diligence in gathering, truth sourcing, and evaluating technical information in pipeline safety matters in order to provide data driven information-sharing on a community level.

NOTE: This article was modified on 12/9/16 at 4pm to provide additional clarification on how the 1,300ft Immediate Impact Zone was calculated.
User avatar
By eriknben10
#490829
Won't be long now, the juices will start to flow despite all the fear mongering. From their news letter, " We expect to have Mariner East 2 in service in the fourth quarter of 2017. "
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