Last updated July 26, 2017
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By Bill Rettew Jr., email@example.com
Posted: 07/25/17, 5:30 PM EDT | Updated: 36 secs ago
WEST GOSHEN >> One day after a judge halted construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline in West Goshen, another judge has shut down drilling operations for the project across all of Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board granted the petition of the Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association Inc., and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to halt all drilling operations associated with the construction of Mariner East 2. Drilling work will be shut down at least until a hearing takes place Aug. 7-9.
This ruling comes after last week’s filing that disclosed 61 drilling fluid spills and water contamination in multiple Pennsylvania regions. After hearing the argument about drilling spills and water well contamination from Sunoco’s drilling operations for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, the Environmental Hearing Board issued an order stating, “it is hereby ordered that the Appellants’ application for a temporary partial supersedeas is granted.”
“Residents living along the route of the pipeline have been assailed over the last few months by drilling spills and damage to water wells and water quality due to Sunoco’s reckless drilling,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Clean Air Council. “Today’s decision provides residents with much-needed protection over the next two weeks.”
“The relief is not permanent and the public must continue to call on elected officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to defend the public interest by putting a long-term halt to the drilling, which Sunoco has been unable to do safely,” said Alex Bomstein, senior litigation attorney for the Clean Air Council.
“It is unconscionable that Sunoco has inflicted such irreparable harms on our environment and communities,” said Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
The shutdown of Mariner East 2 drilling will remain in effect until the full hearing can take place on the organizations’ petition in August.
The Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance released a statement Tuesday attributed to spokesman Kurt Knaus.
“The Environmental Hearing Board’s decision seems to contradict recent findings by state regulators that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has no evidence at this time that Sunoco has not complied with permit conditions related to horizontal directional drilling,” Knaus wrote. “Despite this ruling and unfortunate delay on some construction, work will proceed on a majority of the pipeline throughout Pennsylvania where drilling is not required. This project is too important for Pennsylvania and we remain hopeful of a positive resolution when EHB hears all the facts in August.”
The Environmental Hearing Board left open the possibility of modifying its order to allow certain drilling activity to resume if Sunoco can provide “detailed affidavits explaining why it would cause equipment damage, a safety issue, or more environmental harm than good to stop drilling at the 55 locations where drilling is actively underway.”
Sunoco reported to the Environmental Hearing Board Tuesday morning that drilling is underway at 55 locations, and has not begun at an additional 168 locations.
On Monday, all construction on the Mariner East 2 project was halted in West Goshen as a result of a ruling by an administrative law judge on a dispute between the township and company over the location of a valve station.
The ruling by Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes means the July 24 temporary injunction, or Petition for Interim Emergency Relief, will stand, at the least, until the full Public Utilities Commission meets to make a ruling.
Tentative plans called for the PUC to address the matter in December. Sunoco set a September date for completion of the 350-mile long pipeline.
Sunoco “is enjoined from beginning and shall cease and desist all current construction …” reads the interim emergency order and clarification of material questions.
A petition hearing was held July 18 in Harrisburg.
Township Special Counsel David Brooman, of law firm High Swartz LLP, led the fight.
“This effectively directs Sunoco to stand down, to power down all construction activity in West Goshen,” Brooman said. “Every citizen of West Goshen Township has reason to welcome this thoughtful, comprehensive decision that speaks to the central issues of the case. It’s a huge day for all of Pennsylvania, but particularly West Goshen.”
The township is not looking to stop the entire project, but rather to make the company adhere to a 2015 settlement agreement. Sunoco had agreed to build a safety valve on the north side of Route 202 on Boot Road rather than on the south side at Greenhill and Boot roads, according to the township. Sunoco says they chose that side for safety concerns.
The approximately five-acre area on the south side, known as the Janiec Tract, near the West Goshen Firehouse, was cleared by Sunoco earlier this month. The township maintains that Sunoco broke the settlement agreement when the company planned to construct a safety valve at the site. Plans for horizontal directional drilling at the site were halted.
The interim emergency order reads that four thresholds must be met: the petitioner’s right to relief is clear; the need for relief is immediate; the injury would be irreparable if relief is not granted; and the relief requested is not injurious to the public interest.
“The commission may grant interim emergency relief only when all the foregoing elements exist,” reads the order.
The order questions whether the petitioner’s right to relief is clear and asks “whether the settlement agreement grants Sunoco the right to locate valve facilities anywhere it wishes in the township …”
The order also addressed whether injury would be irreparable if relief is not granted. Financial interests might be considered.
The order cited a December 2015 approval of the Traditions Project, a $35 million land development project at the Janiec Tract.
The housing project would have generated $200,000 in road improvements and ongoing income from property taxes.
If Sunoco was required to redrill on the north side of Route 202, the action would create “a second round of risks to the public, including breakouts and frackouts within the township … the township will endure the noise, vibration, obstructions, and other negative consequences of the construction activities twice,” reads the order.
“Construction has a negative impact on the township, including safety, transportation delays, dust and noise,” reads the order.
Construction would have a significant impact on the township, reads the order. Approximately 25,000 to 36,000 vehicles travel daily on Boot Road and 70,000 vehicles motor along Route 202 through the township.
Plans call for the $2.5 billion, 350-mile long pipeline to carry volatile natural gas liquids such as, ethane, butane and propane from Marcellus Shale deposits in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
July 26, 2017
Initially we suspected social media might not have been a decisive element in the Mariner II issue.
Perhaps we underestimated it.
Recently, legislators are moving to create & pass bills to limit pipeline expansion in PA. While we commend their effort, the cow has long left the barn in the Mariner II saga. The upshot: the PUC almost certainly is aware of the coming storm by now, and may have the wisdom to re-think their position. If not, there’s plenty of room with the newly-unemployed.
To those of you actively (and legally operating) in this fight, keep up the good work. Funnel your anger into contacting your representatives, and the voting booth. They’ll get the message, or walking papers. One’s almost as good as the other.
We need something better that the current rubber-stamping PUC administration. What's
more, the PUC views affected residents in open contempt. Same with Sunoco. Two choice quotes appear inset. Governor Wolf is obviously aware of the issue, and has directed the DEP to investigate complaints. The DEP can’t provide relief to the now-unusable private wells, and the $87,000 fine against Sunoco is hardly a deterrent compared to Sunoco’s financial resources. If we need to disband the current PUC and sack the governor (again), so be it. And while we're throwing mud at Sunoco, it should come as a surprise to no one than Sunoco has flagrantly violated its agreement with West Goshen not to build a pumping station on the south side of Route 202, next to a firehouse of all places. Again, the PUC sided with Sunoco despite the previously written agreement.
What seems to be happening is an awakening in elected officials that this issue isn’t go
ing away, and isn’t getting any better. Better yet, it looks like it's becoming a bipartisan issue. While it might be too little and too late for areas affected by Mariner 1, 2 and perhaps 3, future growth intimated by Dinniman might be impacted by nascent legislation. If so, the pipeline industry has only itself to blame.
The spills and well-water damage can’t be ignored or glossed over. While bentonite isn’t thought to be harmful, we aren’t aware of any mixed drinks or recipes that call for cat litter. Local representative Dinniman investigated the water issue and found lack of jurisdiction by the Department of Environmental Protection. Meaning, once again, residents are left to fend for themselves. Sunoco apparently realized they played right into the environmentalists hands with the well-water incident, so in fairness to Sunoco, they’re paying for public water hookup for a few residents.
July 22, 2017
By Bill Rettew, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 07/01/17, 5:17 AM EDT | Updated: 20 hrs ago
UWCHLAN >> The outcry against pipeline construction in Chester County is getting louder - and expanding.
The newly-formed Uwchlan Safety Coalition, and the Delaware County-based Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, which formed in August of 2016, joined forces this week for an informational meeting Wednesday night at Marsh Creek Church. About three dozen residents attended.
Speakers discussed their options in trying to stop the ongoing construction of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline, which is proposed to weave from end to end of Uwchlan Township, 23.6 miles overall in Chester County and 11.4 miles in Delaware County.
When it’s fully up and running, Sunoco Logistics hopes to deliver 350,000 barrels of propane, ethane and butane every day from the state’s Marcellus Shale regions to the former refinery in Marcus Hook. Once there it will stored and then shipped to customers both foreign and domestic.
The group also seeks to halt construction of other planned and now yet conceived pipeline projects.
Goals of the Middletown Coalition include performing research, discussing the subject and community education. The coalition also hopes to educate public officials, highlight safety risks and advocate for public safety and change.
Rebecca Britton is an organizer of the Uwchlan group.
“We’ve come together to form a grassroots movement – bipartisan – for people who really care,” Britton said.
Middletown speaker Allison Chabot noted the proximity of the proposed ME2 pipeline to schools and seniors. Sunoco and local emergency responders have informed residents to evacuate on foot for at least half a mile from any theoretical leaking or ruptured pipeline, while avoiding setting off possible ignition sources such as a cell phone, car engine or doorbell.
At least one local school has already performed student safety and evacuation drills.
“Once you start learning, you get more disturbed,” Chabot said. “It’s tough to imagine your kids being evacuated from an elementary school on foot.”
A Powerpoint presentation shown at the meeting showed that Lionville Middle School is within the “blast zone” (within a 1,100 -foot radius) of ME2. In fact all Downingtown Area Schools are within a three-mile evacuation zone and Sts. Peter and Paul and Sts. Simon and Jude schools are both located within 100 feet of the ME2 pipeline.
There are more than 40 Pennsylvania schools located within the blast zone, according to the group.
Sunoco’s ME2 Pipeline is composed of two pipelines now under construction, a 20- inch and 16-inch pipeline. Up to 700,000 barrels of ethane, butane and propane, called natural gas liquids, or NGLs, might daily flow through the pipeline.
The product would be transported 350 miles from Marcellus Shale sites in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
“Densely populated Chester County is a ‘high consequence area,’ meaning in the event of a leak or explosion, the consequences – injuries and fatalities – would be high,” reads an information packet distributed by the Middletown Coalition.
It’s a stance the company consistently denies, instead stressing that both construction and operation of the pipeline meet the most stringent standards and precautions.
Allyson Galloway, of the Middletown Coalition said that 84,000 residents are located within the evacuation zone in Delaware County.
A leak or rupture is “probably going to set off neighboring pipelines – a small nuclear weapon,” Galloway said.
Education is a major portion of the group’s mission.
And how will residents know if a pipeline, transporting heavier than air, clear and odorless gas is faulty?
“Sunoco is responsible for reasonable safety,” Galloway said. “It’s up to us to tell these people what to look for.”
Current actions for the group include outreach and education through meetings, forums and town halls, like Wednesday’s meeting.
The group supports legal action to enforce municipal ordinances in West Goshen and Middletown and possibly non-violent resistance, including rallies and marches, with a focus on public safety.
July 1, 2017
June 29, 2017 | 6:40 PM
By Susan Phillips
Ellen Gerhart has been battling with Sunoco Logistics over the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline on their property in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY
Responding to a request by Sunoco Logistics, a Huntingdon County judge has ordered a family and their supporters off the construction path of the Mariner East 2, which runs through their property. The ruling by Judge George Zanic means the family could be arrested on their own land.
Ellen and Stephen Gerhart oppose construction of the pipeline on their 27-acre property in Huntingdon, Pa. Their daughter Elise, along with supporters, have built tree houses in the three remaining white pine trees that stand in the way of construction. People have been living in the trees 24/7.
“This is my home, and my family’s home,” said 30-year-old Elise Gerhart, standing about 50 yards away from the tree houses, beneath a camouflaged shelter on her land. “People have a right to live in peace but these corporations think their right to make money trumps that. And I don’t agree with that.”
The Gerharts have up until this point, lost their court battle against Sunoco’s eminent domain taking. They have asked the Supreme Court to review their case. In the meantime, construction along the 350-mile natural gas liquids pipeline continues.
Supporters have pitched a handful of tents and built a large wood-burning stove to cook food near the Gerharts house on the property. They call the small encampment Camp White Pine. Zip lines are strung between the trees where large protest signs hang. Sunoco could not remove the remaining three trees during their clear cut operation last year because Elise Gerhart was sitting in a platform in one tree about 50 feet off the ground.
Huntingdon County Court of Common Pleas judge George Zanic ordered the family on Wednesday to remove all tents and structures that are along the easement where Sunoco plans to build the pipeline. Zanic also ordered the family and their guests not to interfere with pipeline construction.
Ellen Gerhart, a retired public school teacher, has not been living up in the trees but says her family and their supporters will not comply with the judge’s order. The Gerharts say the pipeline would cause damage to their wetlands, poses a public safety hazard, and is not in the public interest. They take issue with the fact that the bulk of the natural gas liquids will be shipped overseas to make plastics. Gerhart says her family is just one of many families along the pipeline route that has felt bullied by the company.
“Anytime when you have to stand up to a bully, you have to stand up to them,” said Ellen Gerhart. “If you don’t and you just cave in, they just continue doing what they’re doing. And there’s a point you just have to say no. We’re saying no. And there are other people along this pipeline also saying no. And hopefully we get enough of us saying no loudly enough that we can stop it.”
Protest signs at Camp White Pine near construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
Sunoco Logistics is now a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline company that battled Native American protestors and their supporters in North Dakota over the Dakota Access Pipeline. ETP hired a private security firm, which used attack dogs against protestors. A recent article in The Intercept refers to documents that show the security firm TigerSwan is monitoring resistance to the construction of Mariner East 2.
Elise Gerhart says she’s well aware that she could be injured, arrested or spend time in jail for her actions.
“We know some of the tactics that Energy Transfer Partners uses [against protestors,]” she said. “We know how far ETP is willing to go.”
Still, she says she’s made the choice to employ direct action against construction of the Mariner East 2 to protect the environment and to stand up to what she sees as a corporation given too much power by government agencies that were designed to protect the land and the people living on it.
“I take the long view,” said Elise. “I see that there’s a lot of trouble ahead if we don’t fight.”
One of three platforms and treehouse like structures that were constructed in three pine trees and stand in the way of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY
An attorney for Sunoco told judge Zanic during a hearing on Tuesday morning that the company had followed the law in condemning the property for eminent domain and that it needed to continue with construction to stay on schedule.
Judge Zanic had already issued a writ of possession to Sunoco in the case, which grants the company the right to evict the Gerharts from the easement. But Sunoco’s attorney Alan Boynton told the judge that wasn’t enough.
“Law enforcement was reluctant to enforce it,” said Boynton.
Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields says the company has no comment other than what was said in court.
The Gerhart’s attorney, Rich Raiders, had argued the judge needed to consider the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the Environmental Rights Amendment. Raiders says the judiciary now has a duty to consider harm to the state’s natural resources when making decisions.
Although judge Zanic took a copy of the decision to read, it was not referenced in his injunction against the Gerharts.
Ellen Gerhart says she plans to appeal his decision to the Commonwealth Court.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mis-identified the family member sitting in the tree last year, it was Elise, not Ellen.
June 29, 2017
by Katie O'Toole
Thursday, June 29th 2017
HUNTINGDON -- A Huntingdon County judge ruled this week that a family camped out on its own property has to vacate the premises to allow construction to continue for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.
Ellen Gerheart and her husband have owned the property that is now partially taken over for construction of the pipeline for more than three decades.
"When we bought it, it was a house with 48 acres, and we just fell in love with it," she said.
The Gerhearts, who graduated from Penn State, wanted to stay in Central Pennsylvania and live on a rural piece of land.
"We can wake up in the morning and hear the birds right away. We can fall asleep listening to the crickets and the frogs. You look out the front window and you might have a herd of deer in the front yard or a flock of turkeys," Gerheart said.
Claiming eminent domain, Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners have been legally permitted to work on the property, Gerheart said, cutting down trees and destroying wetlands in the process.
"To force that reality on people just feels very, very wrong," Ellen's daughter, Elise Gerheart, said in April.
For the last two years, the Gerheart family and other activists have camped out on the property near the construction, sitting in trees and tents.
Elise said Sunoco cuts the trees even as they hit the trees she and the other protesters occupy.
Ellen, her daughter and the other protesters have been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for trying to stop the construction on the Gerhearts' property, but the charges were later dropped.
This week, a judge ruled that all of them must leave.
Ellen Gerheart said that they haven't been served with the order yet, and they were never notified that the judge approved the injunction.
No matter what happens, she said she won't let any corporation push her and her family out of their home.
"We raised both of our daughters here. We've lived here more than 30 years," she said. We could take the (settlement) money and buy a house somewhere else, but that doesn't stop what they're doing. That wouldn't prevent Sunoco from tearing up the ground and putting these pipes in for no reason other than to make a profit, and, it's like with any other bully, you have to stand up and tell them no. That's what we're doing, and we're going to continue to do that."
Sunoco representatives did not answer questions Thursday, but later released a statement that said,
"Today’s ruling is further validation for the Mariner East 2 pipeline project,” said Kurt Knaus, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. “The public has had countless opportunities to provide input about the project over the past three and a half years. That includes opponents. Regulators have spoken and so have the courts, repeatedly. It’s time to build this project without further delay. Judge (George) Zanic’s ruling today is a positive step toward that end.”
June 29, 2017
June 28, 2017
Sunoco Pipeline LP has asked the Huntingdon County Common Pleas Court for permission to remove landowners and their supporters from a property in southern Pennsylvania where an encampment has cropped up to prevent construction of the Mariner East (ME) 2 natural gas pipeline.
The Gerhart family, which owns nearly 30 acres in Huntingdon County along the proposed path of ME 2, has become a symbol of opposition to the project. Sunoco obtained an easement in court last year for the pipeline using eminent domain. While the Gerharts lost that challenge and another to stop tree clearing on a three-acre section of their land, the eminent domain appeal is awaiting a ruling by the state Supreme Court.
Since March, opponents of the project have been posted at "Camp White Pine" on the property, erecting an "aerial blockade" by connecting three white pines along the easement with zip lines. The trees are linked to others in the surrounding forest with banners protesting the pipeline. A website, Resist Sunoco, has also been launched.
The project and efforts to stop it are now being closely linked to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) after the project's sponsor Energy Transfer Partners LP merged with Sunoco Logistics Partners LP earlier this year. County sheriff's officers in south-central Oklahoma cleared a much larger encampment of protesters from private land near DAPL last year.
If granted, Sunoco's motion for an injunction would give the Gerharts and protestors two days to clear the encampment before law enforcement would be allowed to evict and make arrests if necessary. It would also prevent opponents from interfering with tree clearing and construction of the pipeline. In its filing, Sunoco suggested the property has been "hijacked by anarchists" and "radical eco-terrorists" that have an anti-fossil fuel bent. A decision on the filing could come as early as Thursday.
Sunoco began constructing ME 2 in February after receiving key water-crossing and sedimentation permits. The 350-mile project is considered crucial to move ethane, butane and propane from processing facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex near Philadelphia for distribution to domestic and international markets.
ME 1 entered full service last year to deliver ethane and propane from western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook. Sunoco also plans to proceed with a third pipeline that would run parallel to ME 2 and be installed shortly after that project is completed. The first phase of ME 2 is expected to be complete by the end of September and the second phase is slated for completion in 2018. Combined capacity of the three ME pipelines is up to 800,000 b/d.
Sunoco has battled landowners in courts throughout Pennsylvania. Opponents have argued that the company shouldn't be allowed to condemn land under eminent domain because the pipeline has been designed as an interstate system to primarily serve overseas markets and not as an intrastate system that would qualify. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, however, has upheld the pipeline's certificates of public convenience from the state Public Utility Commission. The state Supreme Court has also declined to hear a separate challenge to Sunoco's power of eminent domain.
June 28, 2017
October 26, 2016 | 2:05 PM
By Jon Hurdle
The EPA ramped up pressure on FERC to conduct a tougher look at pipeline projects such as this one in Susquehanna County.
Keith Srakocic / AP Photo
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accused the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of failing to fully address climate change in its assessment of a new plan to build a natural gas pipeline through three states including Pennsylvania, adding a powerful new voice to claims that FERC takes a permissive approach to gas-industry projects.
The EPA said FERC made a “significant omission” from its analysis of a plan by Columbia Gas to build the Leach Xpress pipeline and associated facilities, and failed to comply with guidance by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to properly take greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into account when assessing the merits of the project.
The absence of a thorough climate analysis was one of a series of criticisms that EPA made in June in response to FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the project.
FERC addressed many of those concerns in the final version (FEIS) of its statement, EPA said, but still failed to meet the climate-change requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“The FEIS perpetuates the significant omission documented through our comments on the DEIS with respect to a proper climate-change analysis to inform the decision-making process,” EPA said in a letter to FERC’s Secretary, Kimberly Bose, on Oct. 11. “We view FERC’s response to our comments as very concerning in light of CEQ’s GHG guidance.”
The final statement, issued in September, failed to discuss how the pipeline project would affect climate change, or any measures to protect people or the environment, the EPA said.
It also accused FERC of failing to provide a mitigation plan for streams and wetlands; a conservation plan for migratory birds, or documentation to support its assertion that another proposed pipeline is not a viable alternative.
The EPA has now asked for a meeting with senior staff from both agencies in an attempt to resolve the issue before FERC publishes a Record of Decision, “and so that you do not continue to take this approach in additional NEPA documents.”
The Leach Xpress pipeline would stretch 160 miles from Marshall County, WV, through southwestern Pennsylvania and southeast Ohio, to Wayne County, WV, and would include three new compressor stations. The project is designed to link natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales with markets, Columbia Gas said on its website.
FERC spokesman Craig Cano declined to comment, saying that Leach Xpress is a “pending matter” before the commission. EPA spokesman Nick Conger also refused to comment beyond what was in the letter, saying only that the two agencies were in “deliberative discussions.”
The EPA’s intervention on the Leach Xpress project ratchets up pressure on FERC, which critics have long accused of being a rubber stamp for the gas industry.
While EPA has previously leveled some criticism at FERC for its handling of pipeline applications, the latest letter marks a significantly stronger critique, environmental groups said.
“This certainly represents a change in tone, a much more forceful tone from EPA,” said Moneen Nasmith, a staff attorney with the environmental law nonprofit, Earthjustice. “The fact that they said ‘we want to meet with you before you publish a final decision’, to my knowledge, that has never happened before.”
Nasmith said the EPA’s new approach likely indicates an increasing focus on climate change in the final months of the Obama Administration, and FERC’s history of downplaying climate change when assessing pipeline projects. She said it probably does not reflect the details of the Leach Xpress project.
“FERC has for a long time really ignored a lot of the climate impacts of the pipelines they approved,” she said. “This is attempting to push back on an agency that has really been quite behind the times in its climate analysis. This has been building inside the EPA, and they have finally let FERC have it in a more critical way.”
Amy Mall, senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA’s increased pressure on FERC is likely the result of the White House guidance document, which was issued in final form on Aug. 1 this year.
The fact that the guidelines were coming from the White House and not just the EPA probably explains the EPA’s tougher approach, she said. “I do think this is much stronger.”
This is not the first time EPA has criticized FERC’s environmental impact assessments. In December 2015, the EPA said FERC had not considered GHG emissions from the production, transportation and combustion of natural gas from a new LNG plant in Magnolia, Louisiana, even though it had done so for the liquefaction facility itself.
In January this year, EPA said that FERC had incorrectly concluded that there was no available methodology to determine how an individual project would contribute to the global level of greenhouse gases.
Cathy Landry, a spokeswoman for the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, a trade group for interstate pipelines, defended FERC’s analysis of the Leach Xpress application, calling it “thorough and consistent with federal NEPA law.”
Landry said INGAA does not oppose the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental analyses by FERC or any other federal agency but she argued that the CEQ’s guidelines on climate-change analysis exceed a federal agency’s obligations under NEPA.
“We feel confident that FERC will address the scope of its NEPA analysis in the final certificate order on this project,” Landry wrote in an email.
Other environmental groups welcomed the EPA’s apparent escalation of its efforts to persuade FERC to conduct more rigorous reviews of pipeline projects.
Maya van Rossum, head of the environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN), said: “This is an important progression for EPA in stepping in to protect communities and the environment from the devastation inflicted by pipelines.”
In September, more than 175 groups including DRN called on Congress to schedule hearings on FERC’s implementation of the Natural Gas Act, accusing the agency of “unparalleled bias in favor of the industry it is supposed to regulate.”
In March, the Delaware Riverkeeper sued FERC for alleged corruption and bias, saying it is unable to make objective decisions about the industries it regulates, including the natural gas industry, because they are the source of its funding.
Lynda Farrell, executive director of the Pennsylvania-based Pipeline Safety Coalition, said the EPA’s comments in the Leach Xpress case may signify a new, tougher approach.
“They haven’t weighed in as significantly as they did in this case,” Farrell said. “We’re hoping that this will be the beginning of more collaborative efforts between EPA and other agencies.”
June 26, 2017
Chris Baker Evens June 24, 2017
Two years ago the most trouble Ellen Gerhart had faced with the law was a parking ticket. Today, standing on a wide swath of cleared forest overlooking miles of mid-construction natural gas pipeline the 62-year-old retired school teacher and mother of two has three arrests on her record. All for the crime of standing on her own property.
Energy Transfer Partners is probably best known as the owners of the North Dakota Access Pipeline that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe resisted through the depths of winter and continues to do so to this day. The network of natural gas pipelines that cross the country rivals the complexity of the natural water systems, and Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania is now in the crosshairs of the industry.
In central Pennsylvania Ellen Gerhart’s property lies about midway along the length of the Mariner East 2 pipeline that reaches from west to east across the state. It is slated to carry a variety of natural-gas liquids under high pressure to the coast and then exported onto the international markets. This project is not without opposition, however. The Gerhart family are one of a number of private property owners across the state who object to their land being confiscated using eminent domain laws and used to further global climate destabilization.
When her parent’s land was initially under threat, Ellen’s daughter, Elise, began a tree-sit on March 29, 2016 on the property to prevent Sunoco Logistics (now Energy Transfer Partners) from clearing forest for a pipeline easement. While perched on a small wooden platform roped to trees dozens of feet off the ground, Sunoco workers pulled down neighboring trees threatening to topple Elise from safety. This first attempt at tree defense gave the Gerharts enough time to use legal process to delay clear cutting and call for people to join them.
A Camp White Pine member ascends to a tree-sit.
Today, Camp White Pine is the rebirth of that first attempt and has developed into the most extensive tree-sit on the East Coast. Multiple platforms are occupied by members of the camp to ensure the pipeline does not cross this parcel of land nor endanger the pond currently occupied by a loud chorus of bullfrogs.
Ongoing legal action by Energy Transfer Partners, and the general trend of legal decisions against property owners and in support of private corporations claiming to act in “the public good,” however, place the defenders in a state of uncertainty. Both the Gerharts and Camp White Pine, although it’s hard to draw any clear delineation between the two, are determined that the pipeline will neither be built on their property nor at all.
Labeled as “eco-terrorists” by the company, the term is as inaccurate as it is offensive. The community meets together regularly for emotional and physical support. Small medical issues are addressed with timely concern, dietary needs are supplied with joy, the grounds are kept meticulously and each person, whether veteran or newcomer, are met with gratitude and generosity.
The Camp White Pine community supports the tree-sit.
Often referred to as Mama Bear, Ellen holds the title well. Her long silver hair flows down over her shoulders in abundance. She holds her face in smile despite the unclear future for the home she has owned for 35 years. A retired public school teacher, she is a quick learner herself. She has had to study up on nonviolent direct action, media relations and how to interface with police and security personnel. Each of these curricula, and more, she takes in a patient stride that carries her around the family home, chicken coop and 27-acre property on a daily basis.
The sad irony, not lost on any at camp, is that eco-terrorism is going on unabated not more than a mile away across local highway 829. Each day workers carve up forest and land to lay 20-inch pipe for carrying pressurized natural gas liquids, which will pose a dangerous threat to anyone living or working nearby. In the case of a rupture or explosion lives and homes are at risk, including nearby Raystown Lake, as well as the immediate natural environment and ultimately the global climate.
Ellen Gerhart and a member of Camp White Pine hold each other.
The Gerharts, and those at Camp White Pine have warrior hearts. Their spirits are gentle and generous, capable of embracing each other and a vision of a world powered not by corporate greed but by the quality of people’s relationships with one another and the environments they live in. It is a future they believe in, and one they struggle nonviolently for.
On June 27, the Gerhart family and Camp White Pine supporters will attend Huntingdon County Court where a decision on an injunction allowing Energy Transfer Partners to resume pipeline construction on the property is expected. The family’s eminent domain case is currently under review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and they claim any injunction would violate their rights to pursue legal due process. They are asking for supporters to join them and plan to continue their campaign against the pipeline’s construction regardless of the court’s decision.
June 24, 2017
By Rick Kauffman, email@example.com, @Kauffee_DT on Twitter
Posted: 06/24/17, 11:06 PM EDT | Updated: 4 days ago
At an otherwise ordinary SEPTA board meeting Thursday, a resident in opposition to the Mariner East 2 pipeline let fly two F-bombs before she was called out of order.
“F---!” exclaimed Ann Dixon after laying out the contributing factors to global warming, in particular the overdependence on fossil fuels. Her use of the word stood as proof of the vociferous opposition to the planned easements that SEPTA would grant to Sunoco Pipeline LP for the laying of pipelines along the Regional rail line properties in Aston and Chester Township.
“We’re all adults here, sir!” shouted a supporter from the audience, around 30 people filling the SEPTA board room at 1234 Market St. in Philadelphia.
“Fossil fuels are dirtier words than f---,” spoke up another.
Walking the thin line between passionate dissonance and civil disobedience, Thursday’s rally of support was yet another instance of protest to the construction of Mariner East 2 through Delaware and Chester counties.
Groups like 350 Philadelphia, an environmentally-minded organization committed to lowering the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels, anti-fracking group E.D.G.E. and the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety are among the groups looking to halt the progress by any means necessary.
Heather Boyd, the chief of staff for state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, spoke on her behalf as well as Brookhaven Mayor Mike Hess, urging the SEPTA Board of Directors to delay the vote to any easement Sunoco Pipeline LP requested along Chester Creek until after “Sunoco remediates recent spills of drilling fluid in that creek.”
“These leaks by Sunoco violated the Clean Streams Act and the Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation on May 9th,” the statement from Krueger-Braneky and Hess reads. “The creek has not yet been fully remediated and this issue is of grave concern to local residents.”
One of those residents is Christina Johnson, who was among the first Brookhaven residents to reach out to Hess concerning three separate incidents where approximately 580 gallons of drilling lubricant called bentonite leaked into Chester Creek.
“This snuck up on us,” Johnson said. “The work was not supposed to be in Brookhaven.”
Permits for approximately 11.4 miles of the nearly 350-mile system were granted for Thornbury, Edgmont, Middletown, Aston and Chester Township, yet Brookhaven residents now experience fallout along Chester Creek.
When fully up and running, Mariner East 2 will deliver as much as 350,000 barrels of ethane, propane and butane from the state’s Marcellus Shale regions to the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.
Some have turned to litigation, as the action taken Friday by six Middletown residents who filed suit against Sunoco — West Goshen residents had a lawsuit dismissed in Chester County earlier this month — while others have turned to local townships, school boards and also SEPTA as potential means to stop the pipeline.
A judge will issue a verdict on whether the case will go to trial Monday or Tuesday.
Coryn Wolk, of 350 Philadelphia, urged the SEPTA board in a losing effort to delay the decision on three easements in Delaware County. SEPTA similarly granted four other easements last year.
“SEPTA should not be making its money profiting off the terror and destruction of property of its own people,” Wolk said.
For the three easements accepted on Thursday, Sunoco will pay SEPTA $1.67 million over 29 years and five months. Three easements were sought to cross SEPTA’s right of way in Aston Township, Chester Township and Brookhaven Borough. Two are located at different points along Chester Creek and another in Chester Township; the one on Bridgewater Road is across the creek from the current cleanup in Brookhaven.
As a public utility, Sunoco can enact eminent domain on properties along the pipeline trajectory. However, the company would not be able to condemn properties owned by SEPTA, a quasi-public state agency.
Bob Lund, the assistant general manager for engineering, manufacturing and construction for SEPTA, said that the Regional Rail lines will not be disrupted during construction.
For each easement, Sunoco draws up an environmental action plan, which details the construction plans and its impact on the area, and then submits to SEPTA.
“They have to provide safety proposals for how they install it and all their inspection records for installation of the pipe where it crosses on our property,” Lund said.
Visible signs of work and cleanup efforts with the presence of heavy machinery along the 5000 block of Chester Creek Road in Brookhaven currently obstruct the shoulder and sidewalk along the road. Signs deter residents from going down to the creek bed, where Hess said young people used to go fishing. “It’s a mess down there. I feel sorry for the homeowners,” Hess said. “We are greatly concerned and trying to take action.”
Hess said in recent months he sat down with residents, Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields, and representatives of the state Department of Environmental Protection to discuss the drilling techniques and resultant spillage on the road and in the creek. Hess said the waterway is property of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, not necessarily in Brookhaven.
“We are concerned, I am concerned, concerned about their safety and what’s going on,” Hess said. “I don’t want this mess in my town, and I want to make sure whatever spilled is not a danger to residents or wildlife.”
In horizontal drilling — the technique used to embed the pipelines at deeper than 150 feet below the ground — the drilling mud, consisting of water and naturally occurring bentonite clay, is deemed environmentally safe.
Sunoco representatives acknowledged the bentonite leak, saying that it remains a top priority to return Chester Creek to its original form once the pipeline construction is complete.
The DEP filed a notice of violation against Sunoco in May, citing an “inadvertent release” of drilling solution. Because the solution is classified as industrial waste, the discharge was a violation of the state clean streams law and the company was given five days to complete the clean-up.
“We continue to work with the DEP to complete our work while ensuring the protection of Chester Creek,” said Senior Director of Public Affairs for Sunoco Pipeline LP Joseph McGinn. “Sandbag containment and screening remain in place on Chester Creek Road and within the creek.”
“The entire Chester Creek Road work area will be fully restored upon completion of construction,” he said.
Sunoco maintains it’s been meeting and exceeding the safety regulations set by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, as well as other government agencies that strictly regulate the manufacturing, construction and operation of Sunoco Pipeline projects.
“Skilled local tradesmen, such as Philadelphia-based Steamfitters Local 420, are equipped with the most advanced training, safety measures and operation standards to ensure safe and environmentally responsible construction,” McGinn said.
For now, residents and Hess aren’t happy about the mess it’s created.
“Some people might say Brookhaven council and mayor doesn’t care, but it’s our problem too because we have concerned citizens,” Hess said. “We have concerns and we’re always looking out for the safety of residents.”
“We’re going down to the site almost daily to make sure there are no violations.”
Sunoco has invited residents to call a 24-hour information hotline at 855-430-4491 to voice concerns and find additional info on the Mariner East 2 project.
June 24, 2017
Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, Alice Speri
After months of employing military-style counterinsurgency tactics to subvert opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota, the private security firm TigerSwan is monitoring resistance to another project — the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline.
Like DAPL, Mariner East 2 is owned by Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline is slated to run for 350 miles, transporting ethane, butane, and propane through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to a hub near Philadelphia for shipment to both domestic and international markets. Internal TigerSwan documents reviewed by The Intercept suggest the company has had a presence in Pennsylvania since at least April.
On April 1, the Mariner East 1 pipeline, which runs parallel to the proposed path of ME2, spilled 20 barrels of ethane and propane near Morgantown, Pennsylvania. On the day of the incident, an email provided to The Intercept by a TigerSwan contractor shows the firm was watching social media for signs the spill would become a rallying point for pipeline opponents.
“At this time the incident has NOT gained any public interest,” a TigerSwan operative wrote in the email.
TigerSwan founder James Reese replied, “We nees [sic] to monitor social media for blow baxk [sic] on the leak.”
The company had been monitoring Dakota Access opponents’ social media for months and analyzing press coverage related to that pipeline fight, according to more than 100 internal situation reports leaked to The Intercept. The documents routinely referenced counterinformation efforts to produce and distribute propaganda favorable to the pipeline.
TigerSwan apparently carried at least some of these practices to Pennsylvania. It would be weeks before the public learned of the leak of highly explosive natural gas liquids. According to a source with direct knowledge of TigerSwan’s operation, making sure nobody found out about the incident was part of TigerSwan’s mission on the project. Nearby residents were kept in the dark until April 20, when Sunoco, which recently completed a merger with Energy Transfer Partners, confirmed to a local media outlet that the leak had occurred.
As Dakota Access opponents moved to new pipeline fights across the country, other repressive tactics deployed against the NoDAPL movement migrated too. TigerSwan’s entry into the ME2 struggle comes as industry-supported lawmakers in Pennsylvania, a center of the nation’s fracking boom, are advancing legislative efforts to increase fines and charges associated with anti-pipeline direct action protests.
The TigerSwan situation reports show that as early as February, as state officials prepared to evacuate the first pipeline resistance camp in North Dakota, the security firm was monitoring the potential for DAPL opposition to spill over into grassroots struggles against other pipeline projects, including ME2 and Energy Transfer Partners’ Rover pipeline in Ohio. “Recently, Illinois activists have begun to shift their focus in earnest from anti-DAPL to anti-pipeline,” a situation report dated February 21 reads. “They have started sharing information on multiple pipeline projects across the country. There has not yet been any mention of Mariner East or Rover, but there is an active effort to continue their momentum in fighting pipeline construction and operation.”
Public records also show an increased interest by the company in areas through which other Energy Transfer Partners projects would pass.
Last November, TigerSwan obtained business licenses in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, the three states in the path of ME2. On June 1, TigerSwan also obtained a business license to operate in Louisiana, where Energy Transfer Partners is building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, which would connect to the Dakota Access Pipeline system and carry Bakken shale oil to Gulf Coast export terminals.
At a February hearing held by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, TigerSwan advisory board chair James “Spider” Marks, a retired U.S. Army major general, spoke in favor of building the pipeline — without revealing his association with TigerSwan. He also published an op-ed in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser newspaper decrying the “anti-energy agitators” who oppose the project.
“No Louisianan wants to live under the conditions that those unsuspecting North Dakota residents were subject to — with protesters trespassing, interrupting the local flow of traffic, and generally injecting elements of fear and the unknown into their daily lives,” Marks wrote. “A timely approval process of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, however, would prevent the possibility of such conditions arising in this state.”
In May, Marks wrote another opinion piece that failed to disclose his TigerSwan affiliation, this time for the Pennsylvania news site PennLive, warning readers there to “be wary of professional pipeline protesters” who turned Standing Rock into a scene of “hapless violence and bloodshed.”
“Many of the same professional agitators who fomented chaos in North Dakota are turning their efforts to the Mariner East II Pipeline in Pennsylvania,” Marks wrote. “These orchestrators make no qualms about their intent to turn Camp White Pine — a small but growing protest area in Huntingdon County — into the next national showdown.”
Energy Transfer Partners declined to comment, writing in an email to The Intercept that it does not “discuss details of our security initiatives, which are designed to ensure the safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and work.” In an email sent to The Intercept from a TigerSwan account, an unnamed representative of the firm declined to answer questions about TigerSwan’s work on ME2, but commented on its social media monitoring efforts. “Of course we monitor social media during any type of situation,” the person wrote. “With the advent of so many bots on twitter and those organizations who perpetuate defamatory and outrageous slander against not only American companies but local, state and national law enforcement on the internet, we wouldn’t be doing our job unless we did.” Marks did not respond to a request for comment. Last week, TigerSwan retweeted a comment characterizing his PennLive piece as a “TigerSwan op-ed.”
Opponents of the ME2 project say they’ve noticed an increased security presence around the pipeline’s path in recent months. “They’ve been making us feel that we’re under constant threat and observation,” Elise Gerhart told The Intercept.
Elise and her parents, Ellen and Stephen Gerhart, have campaigned against ME2 for more than two years and currently host Camp White Pine on their 27-acre property along the pipeline’s right of way in Pennsylvania’s Huntingdon County, where they stage tree-sits to protest the clearing of land for construction. As the pipeline’s construction moves closer, Elise said unmarked pickup trucks have parked across the road from their driveway at night, shining their high beams toward the camp. Helicopters have regularly hovered low over their land, a tactic familiar to Standing Rock protesters.
According to StateImpact Pennsylvania, a spokesperson for Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners denied that the newly merged company or its partners had flown helicopters over the Gerhart property.
In southeastern Pennsylvania’s Delaware County, Eric Friedman, president of a local homeowner’s association, said that as resistance to the project has grown more vocal, so has residents’ sense that they are being watched. Friedman’s group is concerned that the pipeline will move pressurized natural gas liquids through a densely populated suburban area, in close proximity to schools and a senior living facility. Last month, one of the schools started practicing emergency drills to prepare for a possible pipeline explosion, and a study commissioned by a local coalition for community safety warned of the worst-case consequences of potential leaks, including the ignition of “a fireball with a blast radius up to 1,100 feet.”
In recent months, administrators of area Facebook groups opposed to the pipeline reported getting requests from individuals they “have questions about,” Friedman noted. “I suspect that they’re here and using the same kinds of tactics,” he told The Intercept, referring to private security agents. “My sense is that they escalate their response in accordance to the resistance that they’re being met with.”
While the unmarked trucks and strange Facebook requests couldn’t be definitively traced to a private security contractor, TigerSwan’s documented efforts on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners to repress the anti-DAPL movement have raised concerns for ME2 opponents.
“A year ago, people didn’t realize that the company that was using these kinds of tactics in North Dakota was the same company that’s proposing to build this project here. There wasn’t a lot of awareness,” Friedman said. “Now that’s very much in everybody’s mind.”
In Pennsylvania, as in North Dakota, public officials have also played a role increasing pressure on pipeline opponents.
On May 4, state Sen. Scott Martin hosted a closed-door forum between first responders in Lancaster County and officials from North Dakota who were involved in policing the NoDAPL movement. The next day, citing costs associated with the North Dakota protests, Martin distributed a memorandum seeking a co-sponsor for a bill he was drafting that would hold individuals “civilly liable for response costs related to a demonstration if the person is convicted for rioting,” “is a public nuisance,” or “is involved in hosting the demonstration.”
Martin represents much of Lancaster County, which is home to the Lancaster Stand, an action camp located on private property whose organizers have promised to use the grounds as a base for direct actions against the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline once construction begins.
This isn’t the first anti-protester legislation to be pushed in the state. State Sen. Mike Regan recently introduced a measure defining a new type of felon: the “critical infrastructure facility trespasser.” The label could be applied for as little as “attempt[ing] to enter a critical infrastructure facility, knowing that the person is not licensed or privileged to do so.” An individual who succeeded in entering the property with “intent” to damage or destroy equipment or even simply to impede facility operations would face up to two years in prison and a minimum $10,000 fine, as would anyone “conspiring” with others to trespass. Critical infrastructure is defined in the bill as including numerous types of oil and gas infrastructure. The bill was scheduled for a judiciary committee vote last month, which was canceled at the last minute.
As Pennsylvania’s Raging Chicken Press reported, language in the bill mirrors that of a recently approved Oklahoma law penalizing oil and gas industry protesters. And indeed, it’s part of a trend of anti-protester legislation introduced in more than a dozen states across the U.S., including bills aimed at oil infrastructure protesters in Colorado, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
But even without the new legislation, ME2 opponents have faced stiff penalties for hindering construction.
In March 2016, as contractors for Sunoco began cutting down trees, Huntingdon County sheriff’s deputies arrested Ellen Gerhart on her own property when she attempted to warn construction crews that her daughter, Elise, was in a tree dangerously close to where they were clearing. Two other pipeline opponents were also arrested. One of them, Alex Lotorto, was detained for three days on a $200,000 bail. Gerhart, a retired special education teacher, was later arrested a second time on her property, and according to a public comment she submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection, was held in isolation for three days without access to a lawyer.
Charges against her were eventually dropped, but Sunoco later requested that a Pennsylvania judge allow law enforcement to arrest trespassers on the pipeline easement — even if they happened to own the easement land. On April 28, in a rare decision, Huntingdon County Judge George Zanic complied with the request, ordering what’s known as a “writ of possession” enabling authorities to arrest the Gerharts for trespassing on their own property.
Meanwhile, in Delaware County, disputes between property owners and the pipeline company have also ramped up. In May, after some stakes that a pipeline survey crew had placed along the project site were removed overnight, a project manager representing Sunoco emailed an attorney for the local homeowners association. “Because of this, the survey will have to be done again and further monitoring of the property will be requested from the local authorities,” the agent warned in an email reviewed by The Intercept. The Sunoco agent added that “the professional survey crew staked within the limits of the project and did not trespass on anyone’s property.”
But Eric Friedman disputes that and says the stakes were placed by the pipeline company on the private property of the Andover Homeowners’ Association and private lots within the subdivision. “The very idea that Sunoco’s agents would call upon law enforcement to protect their trespass strikes me as completely backwards,” Friedman told The Intercept.
“I took that as a threat to use law enforcement against us,” he added. “It indicated to me that he was at some level in contact with the Pennsylvania State Police and threatening to activate them against us.”
Lt. James Hennigan of the Pennsylvania State Police, which is in charge of the area where the incident took place, wrote in a statement to The Intercept that the agency “responds to all calls for service. Our members take appropriate action if any crime has been committed.”
In North Dakota and Iowa, TigerSwan regularly shared information with law enforcement. The Huntingdon County Sheriff’s Office, in the Gerharts’ county, and the police department in Caernarvon Township, where the Mariner East 1 leak took place, did not respond to requests for comments about collaboration with private security.
Friedman said he hopes local law enforcement will work with residents rather than pipeline representatives. “We live here, we are your neighbors, we are the same as you,” he said. “These people are not, they are outsiders, and you should be working for us. We are your constituents.”
June 21, 2017
Exclusive: PA Lawmaker Working to Curb Pipeline Protestors Tied to Shadow Lobbyists for Company Behind Project
By Itai Vardi • Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 13:45
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners’ planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Scott Martin announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
A DeSmog investigation has found, however, that Martin is intimately tied to an obscure group of lobbyists recently hired by Williams Partners.
State Legislators Against Pipeline Protestors
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners plans to construct the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline through its subsidiary, Transco. The $3 billion 200-mile project, which would transport fracked gas from the state’s northern shales southward to the company’s interconnecting pipeline systems, received federal approval earlier this year but still requires several state permits.
Grassroots and citizen opposition to the pipeline, which has been ongoing since the project’s original proposal in 2014, has intensified in recent months. In February, activists built an encampment on the planned route near Conestoga in Lancaster county, which Scott Martin represents.
Led by the group Lancaster Against Pipelines, they signaled their willingness to engage in nonviolent direct action.
Yet in early May, a day after arranging a conference call between local first responders and North Dakota law enforcement officials who dealt with the Dakota Access pipeline protests, Senator Martin published a legislative memo detailing his plan to propose a bill penalizing protestors. The memo, which directly referenced the Dakota Access pipeline demonstrations, is aimed at “shielding taxpayers against the additional costs resulting from protests.” Martin is currently seeking cosponsors for his legislation.
Two weeks earlier, Martin was among a group of senators advancing a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Mike Regan seeking to essentially criminalize civil disobedience and other forms of demonstrations at critical infrastructure sites, including gas pipelines and facilities. According to the bill, those who “impede or inhibit” the operations of the facility will be charged with a felony, face imprisonment, and pay hefty fines.
Williams Hires Secretive Group with Ties to Sen. Martin
A recent disclosure by Transco to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reveals that last year the company hired an entity generically called the Pennsylvania Advocacy Group LLC.
From Transco’s latest financial report to FERC, showing a payment to Pennsylvania Advocacy Group LLC
State corporate records reveal that Pennsylvania Advocacy Group LLC was created in 2014 by five lobbyists from two different firms: Alan Novak, Angela Leopold, and Dan Hayward from Novak Strategic Advisors, and David Feidt and Michael Musser from Community Networking Strategies LLC.
Novak, Leopold, Hayward, and Feidt are also long-time top Pennsylvania republican operatives. Musser runs a political action committee that supports politicians from both parties.
Although it does not have a website, state corporate records indicate that Community Networking Strategies is a subsidiary of the Harrisburg-based legal and lobbying firm McNees, Wallace & Nurick. While Community Networking Strategies is not officially registered as a lobbying firm in Pennsylvania, state disclosure records show that McNees, Wallace & Nurick is currently lobbying for several fossil fuel entities, including Gulf Oil Ltd, Industrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania, and Sunoco Logistics.
Scott Martin is closely tied to Community Networking Strategies. According to his state senate financial disclosures, Martin worked at Community Networking Strategies immediately before starting his tenure as legislator in January this year.
Disclosing a position of “vice president,” Martin described his professional activities in the company as “business development.” The address he provided on the disclosure matches McNees, Wallace & Nurick’s address for the firm’s Lancaster Pennsylvania branch.
From PA Senator Scott Martin’s financial disclosure, showing his work for the lobbying firm Community Networking Resources, a subsidiary of McNees, Wallace & Nurick
Martin’s LinkedIn profile states that he worked for Community Networking Strategies between January 2016 and January 2017.
Community Networking Resources Fundraises for Senator Martin
Apart for its business lobbying, Community Networking Resources also engages in political campaigning. According to Pennsylvania campaign finance records, in recent years the company has provided political support and fundraising services – including for Scott Martin.
Michael Musser, whose two hats include Community Networking Resources and Pennsylvania Advocacy Group, runs a PAC called Better Government for PA. A review of the PAC’s records show that since 2008 it has contributed over $36,000 to Martin’s PAC, Friends of Scott Martin. At the same time, Friends of Scott Martin hired Musser’s Community Networking Resources on several occasions for fundraising services when Martin served as Lancaster County Commissioner.
Lobbyist David Feidt, also of both Community Networking Resources and Pennsylvania Advocacy Group, is registered as the treasurer of Better Government for PA PAC.
By contracting with Pennsylvania Advocacy Group, Transco can potentially benefit from its deep ties to the state’s GOP. From the Novak Strategic Advisors side of the firm, Alan Novak is former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, while Dan Hayward served as the party’s Executive Director. Angela Leopold served in the past in the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania.
From the Community Networking Resources side, David Feidt currently serves as chairperson of the Dauphin County Republican Committee. Feidt’s twitter account continuously promotes the use of natural gas, including support for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.
In a conversation with DeSmog, Michael Musser confirmed that Pennsylvania Advocacy Group was formed jointly by the firms Community Networking Resources and Novak Strategic Advisors, but said his involvement in the company is minimal. He referred DeSmog to Dan Hayward from Novak Startegic Advisors. Hayward did not reply to several requests for comment. A spokesperson for Transco did not provide comment either.
Senator Martin denies his previous work for Community Networking Resources had any effect on his legislative efforts concerning pipeline protests. In an email to DeSmog, Martin responded to a series of questions:
Have you ever provided work for Transco as part of Pennsylvania Advocacy Group and/or in any other capacity?
“I have never provided work for Transco in any capacity and haven't done work for Pennsylvania Advocacy Group.”
As senator, were you ever contacted by employees of Pennsylvania Advocacy Group and/or Community Networking Resources and/or Novak Strategic Advisors in relation to Transco's gas projects?
“As Senator, I was never contacted by these groups in relation to Transco's gas projects.”
Did your ties to Community Networking Resources have any effect on your recent legislative efforts related to pipeline protesting?
“No, Community Networking Resources had no effect or involvement on my protestor legislation being worked on. I started that initiative to try to be proactive in our community having seen the aftermath and costs of the NDAPL protests. Having been heavily involved with Emergency Management as a commissioner and concerned about costs and impacts on our community is what motivated me to look at this legislation.”
Do you currently receive any compensation from Community Networking Resources and/or its parent firm, McNees, Wallace & Nurick?
“I receive no compensation from any source except for my job as State Senator.”
Can you describe your relationship with Mike Musser of Community Networking Resources? According to state campaign finance records, Musser's PAC contributed to your PAC in the past, while Community Networking Resources provided political consulting and fundraising for your PAC.
“Mike helped organize my annual fundraisers throughout my time as county commissioner. I was employed by CNR [Community Networking Resources] for a year after I left being a county commissioner, before starting with the Senate.”
June 22, 2017
June 15, 2017 | 7:04 PM
Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania
Sunoco Pipeline has asked a Huntingdon County judge to order a family protesting the Mariner East 2 pipeline, and their supporters, to refrain from obstructing pipeline construction or face arrest. It’s the latest legal maneuver in a stand-off that has pitted the pipeline company against the Gerhart family.
The company is now a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, which built the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
Ellen and Stephen Gerhart, along with their daughter Elise, oppose construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline, which would carry natural gas liquids across the state and through their 27-acre property in Huntingdon County.
The family continues to fight the eminent domain taking of their property in court. Currently, the state Supreme Court is weighing whether to review the case. In the meantime, pipeline construction is permitted to continue. And the Gerharts say they have no choice but to resist though nonviolent civil disobedence.
Sunoco’s 21-page motion for a preliminary injunction against the activists includes detailed descriptions of efforts by the Gerharts and their supporters to block construction. The family has not hidden any of their intentions, which have been reported widely and are detailed on the public Facebook pages ResistSunocoPA and CampWhitePinePA. Sunoco also surveilled the Gerhart property with drones and sent employees onto neighboring properties.
Ellen Gerhart told StateImpact helicopters have flown low over their property during the past several days. Jeff Shields, spokesman for Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners, says neither the company nor any third parties working for the company have flown helicopters over the Gerhart property.
A call to the entity listed as the owner of one helicopter identified by Ellen Gerhart, Air Chopper LLC based in Berwick, Pa. elicited an odd response. “You’ll have to talk to a lawyer,” said a man claiming to be with the company. “I’m not a gynecologist but I’ll try to help.”
During protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline last year, Energy Transfer Partners hired a private security firm, which used dogs to attack activists. Recently, leaked documents published by the Intercept, show the company’s private security firm worked with local police to use militaristic anti-terrorism tactics against protestors.
Elise Gerhart climbed a tree on her family's land in Huntingdon County to try to stop crews from clearing trees for a natural gas liquids pipeline.
Camp White Pine is the name of the encampment where the Gerharts and their supporters have constructed tree platforms equipped with zip lines. The plan is to remain in the trees in order to prevent construction workers from installing the pipeline.
Although the company cleared trees in March, three white pine trees remain standing because Elise Gerhart sat on a platform high up in one of the trees long enough to prevent their removal. The company is prevented from clearing trees after April 1 due to the endangered Indiana Bat.
It’s unclear how the company can proceed with the construction without removing those three trees. Permission from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service is required to clear trees after April 1.
In the motion, Sunoco detailed the financial harm the company would incur if it is prevented from building that section of the line. It went into great detail on the public benefit of the pipeline, something that landowners along the 350-mile line have taken issue with and challenged in court. So far, with little success.
The bulk of the natural gas liquids to be transferred by the pipeline will be shipped overseas to a plastics manufacturer in Scotland. The company says it will also unload some of the gas in Berks County.
Sunoco’s motion sites a Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission order dated August 21, 2014, which says the Mariner East 2 will allow Pennsylvania residents access to a stable supply of propane during harsh winters and that it would be transported more safely than through truck or rail. It also discusses the revitalization of the Marcus Hook Industrial complex in Delaware County, where “processing plants are being built by third parties and hundreds of jobs will be in the balance.”
The motion points to the jobs created by the pipeline construction, which, taken together, it says are no comparison to any harm that may be suffered by the Gerharts.
Asked whether the protests would end if the judge grants Sunoco its request, Ellen Gerhart said: “we are continuing to resist efforts by Sunoco to build a pipeline on our property.”
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct number of acres of the Gerhart property. It is 27 acres.
June 15, 2017
June 15, 201711:37 AM ET
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration failed to follow proper environmental procedures when it granted approval to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.
It's a legal victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmentalists, who protested for months against the pipeline. Oil started flowing through it earlier this month. The tribe fears that the pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River just upstream of its reservation, could contaminate its drinking water and sacred lands.
In a 91-page memorandum opinion, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "largely complied with the National Environmental Policy Act."
However, he says, the Corps "failed to adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on Standing Rock's fishing and hunting rights and on environmental justice, and in February 2017, it did not sufficiently weigh the degree to which the project's effects are likely to be highly controversial in light of critiques of its scientific methods and data."
This ruling does not order a halt to pipeline operations. But it opens the door to that possibility.
The judge writes that the standard remedy in this situation would be to vacate the pipeline's permits and easement, thereby halting pipeline operations until the Army Corps is in compliance with environmental procedures.
"Such a move, of course, would carry serious consequences that a court should not lightly impose," Boasberg says. He ordered the parties to submit briefings about the legal question and scheduled a status hearing for next Wednesday.
"This is a major victory for the Tribe, and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing," Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately."
As we have previously reported, "during President Trump's first month in office, he reversed a decision by the Obama administration and called on the Army to expedite the approval process for the section of the pipeline that had not yet been built."
Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline company, has not commented on Wednesday's ruling.
Before this victory, two previous lines of argument by the tribe have not "yielded success," the judge wrote in his opinion. The first argued that "the grading and clearing of land for the pipeline threatened sites of cultural and historical significance," while the second contended that the oil in the pipeline under a lake significant to the tribe "would desecrate sacred waters and make it impossible for the Tribes to freely exercise their religious beliefs."
The pipeline spans nearly 1,200 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, and the pipeline company says it can carry 520,000 barrels of oil daily.
June 15, 2017
his is the result of three forces: greed, political indifference or cowardice and effete courts. While the first is justifiable in business, the last two aren’t. So, we got screwed by Pennsylvania.
This rang a distant, but familiar bell in our memory. For anyone pondering how this how the system’s supposed to work, consider another local issue a few years back. Around 2000 there was a new cell tower set up at the intersection of Paoli Pike & Route 352. If you don’t recall it, here are a couple of photos taken at the time.
Cell towers are a hot topic all unto themselves, however they serve only the immediate area where they’re installed. The telephone service isn’t whisked off to a Scandinavian country, so the public benefit is obvious. Strangely, the cellular telephone companies don’t seem to have the public convenience status even though they clearly serve the local population. Lacking this, it seems East Goshen got cold feet and booted a cell tower out even after issuing the permits and approval (link to 2002 article). So, after East Goshen recited what looks like a “that was then, this is now” edict, the cell tower was taken down. So, while it probably wasn't in the best interests of East Goshen residents, the final decision remained in their control. The system worked as designed, and we respect that. In the case of Sunoco, et al they never intended to provide any service to locals, yet managed to convice the Public Utility Commission (PUC) otherwise. This is the complete reverse of how it's supposed to work.
So, as the reasoning seems to go: company that ignores locals and deals with European customers gets the Certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN), the company that does provide a necessary utility to the local area didn’t get a CPCN. Especially considering that telephone companies are a classic case of legitimate need for the CPCN. And the PUC at least partially understood this as far back as 2011. As a reminder-the significance of the CPCN is the item necessary to get Eminent Domain authority. As long as the PUC endorses the CPCN, legal action appears to be a waste of time and money (recent example).
A better solution would have been to assign the CPCN to that single petroleum-carrying pipe in the 1930s, all others would be considered a separate project, and subject to judical & environmental review.
One upbeat piece of news: there was a recent favorable ruling regarding eminent domain. So, Ellen & Elise Gerhart will be back in court with Sunoco again, except Sunoco will be on the defense this time.
Sunoco’s been getting clumsy, which we surmise is probably complacency. They had it in the bag in southern Delaware County, and now they’re having serious leakage issues. Upshot: Jeff Shields is owning it, so that’s an improvement.
As with any turbulent situation, there will always be parties that try to take advantage of the situation.
A few pitfalls to avoid:
1.Professional protesters and semi-professional activist groups (additional details) diluting or hijacking the agenda outright. Recently a resident received a call from someone identifying themselves as “Sam” urging them to “speak with the West Goshen Supervisors” about the pipeline. It’s clear Sam hasn’t been following our story. Sam doesn’t go into further detail, but it turns out Sam is very likely Sam Rubin of the Washington DC based Non-Government Organization (NGO) called Food and Water Watch (link). We appreciate Food & Water Watch’s attention, although we need something more effective than vague instructions directing us to what we've already done.
Key indicator: they’ll hold community gathering for “awareness” while offering little in the way of real solutions. At the same time, they’re peddle membership to their organization. As always, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
2. Unscrupulous realtors – watch out for lowball offers from realtors. They know people have short memories, and if property values start to fall, they’ll have an opportunity to make a lot of money. Like anyone else engaging in speculative purchases, they'll look to buy low and sell high. If property values are high (as in eastern Chester County), they'll look for ways to temporarily push prices down. They know prices will return soon, recovering their money and far more.
One tactic was “blockbusting”, or creating the illusion your neighborhood was declining. They used a number of tactics including, but not limited to:
A more common scenario is simply increased property turnover, with realtors tyically making about 5-8 percent on the sale price. With a $250,000 home, that would be about $12,500 - $20,000 without requiring any addintional investment. Most homes in our area are now $500,000+, bumping the commission north of $25,000 - $40,000 per sale!
Key indicator: watch for detrimental trends or incidents that usually don’t happen in your neighborhood, followed by realtors offering to buy.
Other miscellaneous items:
June 5, 2017
It looks like voter turnout might have been weak, but it was decisive. In the De
mocratic camp, Corvo was swept out in the contest between Lasota/Stuntebeck & Casey. If you declined to vote for Corvo, we'd sure like to hear how the wheels fell off Corvo's wagon (Email us). We have our own suspicions, but the election results are about you, not us.
In the Republican contest, Halvorsen & Murphy easily dominated the contest, with White & Swart becoming election spoilers for each other.
One detail that warrants mention: praise for all participants in their efforts to recover the election signs. They're disappearing quickly, a substantial improvement from years past.
Below is a summary of West Goshen's Supervisors & their terms from 1995 to present. Note that the two additional supervisor positions were created in an election about 2011-2012.
May 17, 2017
By Leslie Krowchenko, Times Correstondent
Posted: 05/09/17, 9:18 PM EDT | Updated: 1 day ago
MIDDLETOWN >> Six residents living adjacent to the proposed path of the Mariner East 2 pipeline filed a complaint against Sunoco Logistics in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Friday, seeking an injunction to enjoin the company from constructing the line in apparent violation of township code.
Meghan Flynn, who lives in Glen Riddle Station Apartments, James Fishwick, Glenn Jacobs and Gina Soscia, who reside in Tunbridge Apartments, Glenn Kasper, of East St. Andrews Drive and Alison Higgins, of Lenni Road, are seeking enforcement of a section of the code which states “in no case shall there be a distance of less than 75 feet between a dwelling unit and a petroleum or petroleum products transmission line.” Sunoco purchased the needed private property easements and the complaint states in each case state Department of Environmental Protection “maps show at least one pipeline closer than 75 feet to the building.”
The plaintiffs are also seeking enforcement of the portion of the code which indicates such lines must be “installed in the center of the easement.” The complaint adds the ordinances were adopted more than 50 years ago, long before Sunoco announced the project.
The residents asked the township last month to enforce the provisions of the code, adding if action was not taken in 30 days, they would consider filing suit against Sunoco. Council declined to pursue the request at its April 24 meeting.
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has affirmed in the Robinson Township series of cases that Pennsylvania municipalities have the authority to adopt and enforce ordinances to protect their residents from hazardous industrial operations,” said Michael Bomstein, counsel for the plaintiffs. “Unfortunately, Middletown council has failed to seek enforcement of its own ordinances, leading to this complaint.”
Spanning Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, the Mariner 2 and 2x systems would bring natural gas liquids such as propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex. Approximately 11.4 miles would be installed in Delaware County across private and public property in Thornbury, Edgmont, the township, Aston and Upper Chichester, ending at the facility.
Federal pipeline safety regulations classify the three products as highly volatile liquids and siting such pipelines is not governed by state or federal authorities, according to the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety. The complaint notes locating the lines is addressed in the local ordinances.
“Sunoco’s published plans are a flagrant violation of the ordinances,” it states. “Issuance of the requested relief will be in the public’s best interest, as it will reduce the risk of harm to township residents and ensure consistent administration of township ordinances.”
When contacted, Sunoco Logistics Communications Manager Jeff Shields said the company would not be commenting on the action as it is pending legislation.
May 10, 2017
By Brian McCullough, Daily Local News
Posted: 05/09/17, 6:14 PM EDT | Updated: 1 day ago
HARRISBURG >> After months of rumors, a Kennett Square area resident who now sits on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission appears to be on his way to serving on a national board.
The White House announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Robert F. Powelson of Kennett Square to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.
Members of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission offered their congratulations in public statements, confirming months of rumored reports that Powelson would be moving on.
“Commissioner Powelson is knowledgeable and passionate about public utility issues – from infrastructure investment and marketplace competition to innovation and the development of our next generation of utility workers,” Chairman Gladys M. Brown said. “He has also been a strong advocate for Pennsylvania and for the important role of utility regulators across the country. His service reflects well on the work of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and will be positive for the commonwealth.”
Added Vice Chairman Andrew G. Place: “Rob’s nomination comes at a key moment for federal environmental and energy policy. The reshaped commission will continue to be challenged to balance the demand for rational energy choices in support of both economic sustainability and environmental stewardship. The crucible of Pennsylvania has put him in a favorable position to navigate these demands.”
A PUC spokesman said Powelson was not available for comment Tuesday. The commissioner does not want to give interviews until his appointment has been finalized, said the spokesman.
FERC approves interstate energy-transmission projects, including some of the most controversial natural-gas pipelines now under consideration, according to S&P Global Platts, a provider of energy and commodities information.
In its statement announcing nominations to the board, the White House said Powelson’s term would expire June 30, 2020.
Powelson has served as a commissioner on the Pennsylvania PUC since 2008. He was first nominated to the PUC on June 19, 2008, by Gov. Edward G. Rendell and appointed chairman by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011, the White House noted.
Currently, Powelson serves as the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners based in Washington, DC. He also sits on the Electric Power Research Institute Advisory Board as well as the Drexel University Board of Trustees.
From 1994 to 2008, Powelson served as the president and CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry based in Malvern. In 2005, he was selected by the Eisenhower Presidential Fellow to be a United States fellow in Singapore and Australia. Powelson holds a bachelor of administration from St. Joseph’s University and a master of governmental administration with a concentration in public finance from the University of Pennsylvania, the White House said.
Neil Chatterjee of Kentucky, an energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was also nominated to FERC, it was announced Tuesday.
Pennsylvania PUC Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr. called Powelson’s nomination “prestigious”
“Commissioner Powelson always calls matters as he sees them,” added Commissioner David W. Sweet. “Not only does he have extensive knowledge about utility issues, but he is very skilled at developing creative solutions.”
May 10, 2017
Posted Wednesday, May 3, 2017 3:56 pm
By David Barr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lower Swatara Township soon will experience construction as part of the controversial $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline project, which spans the state and has come under fire from groups who question its safety and its effect on the environment.
Two pipelines, one 16 inches in diameter and one 20 inches in diameter will be installed in Lower Swatara Township.
Jeff Shields, communications manager for Sunoco Logistics Partners, said that the areas in Lower Swatara Township that would be most impacted are White House Lane, North Union Street and Oberlin Road, with construction most noticeable around White House Lane. In addition, other roads that will be impacted are Greenfield Drive, Stoner Drive and Rosedale Drive.
Mariner East 2 is an expansion of the existing Sunoco Mariner East pipeline system. In all, 17 counties in the southern tier of Pennsylvania will be affected by the project, which stretches about 350 miles.
It will transport liquified petroleum gases (LPGs), also known as natural gas liquids (NGLs), which opponents of the project say are dangerous if a pipeline ruptures, from Ohio and western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook facility in Delaware County.
Sunoco Logistics officials informed the Lower Swatara board of commissioners at its legislative meeting April 19 on the plans for the project and the board updated the public on the maintenance plans. There is not a set starting date but it’s likely to be soon.
The maintenance agreement involves hauling and travel on state and township roads, driveway accesses, road bores that will be going horizontally under township streets, and horizontal-directional drilling under White House Lane and Swatara Park Road.
Sunoco Logistics officials hope the first completion date will be at the end of September 2017, with a final completion date of 2018, although there has been no specific time set for the second completion date.
Lower Swatara Township president Jon Wilt told the Press & Journal that he had no concerns regarding the project and the officials associated with the project have a pretty well established track record. He added that no one has expressed any concern or complaints about the project.
“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” Wilt said.
The agreement has security in the form of a bond estimated at $3,087,000. According to township engineer Erin Letavic, the intent of the bond is to cover full-replacement costs of the full-pave width for six township roads and right-of-way restoration for the unpaved width in the right-of-way if construction trucks cause any damage to that portion of the road.
“The intent is not to have Sunoco pave every street. The intent is to bond full replacement of any streets that are significantly damaged as a result of the work,” Letavic said.
Public Safety Director Frank Williamson said there will be a traffic limit to Sunoco-related vehicles on North Union Street and there will be a 100,000-pound combined weight limit for vehicles.
“It’ll be a total repair on North Union as needed,” he said.
Section 4 construction manager Brad Bonner told the board that while the plan is to install both pipes, work on the 16-inch pipe is lagging behind the work on the 20-inch pipe, so crews will complete the work on the 20-inch pipe and finish the 16-inch pipe later.
“According to my bosses, all work will be done this year, so that’s the standing plan,” he said.
Sunoco Logistics community relations representative Steve Kratz told the board that they “shouldn’t need to close any roads” but there may be some temporary flagging while equipment is moved in.
May 6, 2017
By Leslie Krowchenko, Times Corespondent
Posted: 05/01/17, 9:33 PM EDT | Updated: 3 days ago
MIDDLETOWN >> Council has declined to pursue a request by six residents living adjacent to the proposed path of the Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 2 pipeline regarding code provisions relating to minimum setback distances for petroleum product pipelines.
The individuals, who live in Glen Riddle Station and Tunbridge apartments and on East St. Andrews Drive and Lenni Road, claim private-property easements purchased by the company would locate the pipeline closer than 75 feet to their buildings or homes, in violation of township code.
The complaint cited Chapter 210 of the township subdivision and land development ordinance. As the pipeline installation is not a subdivision and therefore not land development, the setback provisions do not apply to the project, said council Chairman Mark Kirchgasser following Monday night’s meeting.
“There is no legal way to enforce it,” he added. “It is apples and pears.”
Four of the residents live in the apartment complexes where the pipelines are planned for a space between buildings. One property owner lives 30 feet from her neighbor’s home and based on Sunoco’s plans to install two sets of pipelines, each would be less than 15 feet from the house, according to the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety.
The complaint is similar to ones filed by private residents in Thornbury and West Goshen townships. In those cases, the documents refer to portions of the township codes related to maintaining open space and pipeline impact radius setbacks.
A copy of the document was presented to the township March 31 and the coalition asked for a response within 30 days. Based on the decision, the residents indicated they may file suit against Sunoco in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, seeking to impose the distance requirements.
Coalition spokesman Eric Friedman declined to discuss pending or potential litigation.
“On behalf of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, I can say that council’s decision not to enforce its own thoughtfully-adopted code of ordinances is troubling and difficult to understand,” he said.
The meeting focused on two additional pipeline issues. The coalition hired Quest Consultants of Norman, Okla., to complete an independent hazards study focusing on the potential consequences and probability of a pipeline breach. The simulation centered on 450-student Glenwood Elementary School, where the pipeline and a valve station are proposed for installation 650 feet from the playground.
Council has questioned the criteria used for the study. The closest pumping station would be in Middletown, Dauphin County, 87 miles from the line entering the township, but the Quest report was completed as if the station was in Berks County. The latter is 50 miles closer to the township and the data generated significantly impacts the possible operating pressures, said Kirchgasser.
“The report used 1,200 psi measures in communicating the blast radius, but they would be more in the range of 500-600 psi,” he added. “We want the figures to be accurate, as the results will affect the emergency response.”
The study relied on modeling performed by industry experts along with a probability analysis based on an academically-supported methodology, said Friedman.
“In performing risk assessment, it is critical to model the plausible worst-case scenario as the baseline,” he added. “The hazards analysis is fully documented and was carefully and thoroughly reviewed before release.”
The township verified its information using three different sources and at the request of the coalition agreed to secure confirmation from a fourth entity.
Council also tabled Sunoco’s application for erosion and sedimentation control and stormwater management plans, as the applicant had not satisfied all the requirements from township Engineer Eric Janetka.
May 1, 2017
Posted by Claire Bernish on May 1, 2017 6:34 pm
If you’re a resident of Huntingdon County unfortunate enough to have your property in the path of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline, you can forget protesting — unless arrest and jail time aren’t an issue for you.
Common Pleas Court Judge George Zanic signed a rare and factious “writ of possession” order last week in favor of Sunoco, which had sought an “emergency measure” to thwart landowners protesting pipeline construction by occupying trees — on their own property.
In short, protesting encroachment of this pipeline on one’s own property will earn an arrest.
“We’re seriously looking at going to jail,” Elyse Gerhart told NPR. “I’m not the type of person who lets injustice go unchallenged, and neither is my mother. What we’re doing makes [Sunoco] show their true face.”
NPR’s StateImpact Pennsylvania reports,
“Ellen and Stephen Gerhart in Huntingdon, Pa., along with their daughter Elyse, have become outspoken critics of the pipeline and the use of eminent domain by the company to take possession of land along the 350 mile route.
“Charges against Ellen Gerhart were dropped after she was arrested last year for trespass on her own property. But with this new writ, Sunoco can enlist law enforcement to arrest anyone within the easement, including the actual property owners.”
Sunoco, in no uncertain terms, has garnered the full weight of support via force of the U.S. government against the interests of citizens who have done literally nothing else wrong but have their properties awkwardly situated where Big Oil wants its pipeline to run.
Elyse Gerhart took to the trees in early February with an unknown number of others facing similarly offensive corporate actions, after the unironically monikered Department of Environmental Protection granted permits for Sunoco to begin construction of Mariner East 2.
As the Gerharts’ attempt to stave off the corporo-government’s eminent domain seizure of private property winds its way through courts, Judge Zanic’s order effectively quashes any remnants of effective protest the landowners had at their disposal — rendering moot their objections in favor of Sunoco’s plans to complete its pipeline until court proceedings play out.
Sunoco Logistics, it is imperative to note, completed a long-anticipated merger with Energy Transfer Partners — of Dakota Access Pipeline notoriety — just two days ago.
Given the extreme measures ETP employed against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporting Indigenous and non-Native water protectors from around the globe — who were camped in opposition to DAPL for months near the banks of the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe reservoir — the move to usurp law-abiding civilians’ private property hardly comes as a shock.
Indeed, the pompousness of corporate theft of property under the already-contentious governmental program known as eminent domain seems par for the course for Big Oil — particularly now that industry darling, Donald Trump, occupies the White House.
Occupying treetops on their own properties has already led to the sort of disputatious confrontations, albeit on a smaller scale, which brought international scorn to the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. Although charges were ultimately dropped, authorities arrested Ellen Gerhart last year — for trespassing on her own property.
Attorney Rich Raiders is representing the Gerhart family in its challenge of eminent domain, and noted the court’s use of ‘writ of possession’ is “very rare and very unusual.”
A writ of possession technically allows authorities to seize control of everything you own — giving you and everyone in your household limited time to vacate the premises.
Twenty-seven acres of forests and wetlands comprise the Gerharts property in Huntingdon County, and the family has thus far stood resolute in refusing to voluntarily grant an easement and its 50-foot wide right-of-way with additional 25-foot staging area for the Mariner East line.
In their appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the family argues, in part, Sunoco’s planned liquid natural gas pipeline — “which would carry ethane, propane and butane from the Marcellus Shale to an export terminal in Delaware County” — is not in the public interest.
A common defense against eminent domain, any company arguing for seizure and use of private property normally bears the brunt of proving necessity and public interest — Sunoco, in this instance, claims Mariner East 2 would deliver needed heating oil to parts of Pennsylvania. Mariner East 1, the Gerharts and their attorney rebuff, already supplies what is needed — the second line is redundant and unnecessary.
In an email response to that claim, Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields asserted the writ of possession holds to the confines of the law, telling StateImpact,
“We are proceeding with construction in Huntingdon County and elsewhere and will conduct ourselves according to the law at all times.”
As with Energy Transfer Partners’ horrendous steamrolling of Native American rights concerning the justifiably maligned Dakota Access Pipeline, that black-and-white simplistic view of Big Oil’s manifest rights hardly comes as a shock — though its might makes right attitude has won no favor with landowners who otherwise couldn’t care less about the exploits of the industry.
This writ of possession and its granting authority to arrest property owners on their own land should they not permit notoriously faulty oil and gas infrastructure to impede in their lives proves yet again the government’s subservience to corporate industry over the rights of people supposedly governed.
No matter Sunoco’s and ETP’s brazen claims to superiority over individual property rights, the argument legality supersedes inalienable rights will never tacitly equate a moral high ground.
And as Big Oil finds new impunity to run roughshod where it sees fit, that legality does not equal morality has never been more clear.
The article, "Big Oil Now Has Authority to Arrest You for Protesting a Pipeline on Your OWN Property", was syndicated from and first appeared at: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/oil-company-arrest-landowners-protesting/.
You may find more great articles by Claire Bernish on http://thefreethoughtproject.com/.
May 1, 2017
May 1, 2017
by Sarita Farnelli
After a drizzly week, Philadelphia’s weather granted residents and visitors an idyllic day on April 26, aligning with a gathering of dozens of community members at Bartram's Garden to raise funds for Camp White Pine, an anti-pipeline encampment in central Pennsylvania. The camp’s primary target is the Mariner East 2 pipeline, a project gaining notoriety for abuse of eminent domain and militarized expansion in a region particularly vulnerable to explosions and community displacement caused by oil and gas industry buildout. When asked, guests offered a variety of reasons for being there. Some came to support a friend providing music for the event. Others were drawn to the local fight by interest in the topic sparked in recent months by the indigenous-led battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some were members or close supporters of EDGE Philly, the organization hosting the benefit.
Speakers included EDGE member Coryn Wolk, and an update from Camp White Pine was provided by organizer and supporter Ray. “I first want to acknowledge that we are currently standing on occupied Lenni Lenape territory. I find that that's a very important thing to acknowledge, because for one, there's no justice on stolen land, and two, as folks who are actively organizing resistance to defend land, we have to acknowledge that people were here before us, that extraction and the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a continuation of colonization, and that also we can't be fighting for private property rights. That's still part of the problem,” said Ray. A zine, An Incomplete Indigenous History of the Susquehanna Valley, was available for guests to inform themselves on the topics of local colonization and imperialism.
Coryn Wolk, no stranger to the pipeline fight, provided some historical context. “I've been working on Mariner East in various capacity since around 2014. It was actually announced late 2013 but now it's becoming a big news story because Sunoco is trying to finally push construction on it,” said Wolk in her opening comments to the crowd. “It started out in 1930 when Sunoco built an oil pipeline running east to west across Pennsylvania. That was a public utility, as it was bringing oil for people in Pennsylvania. Fast forward to 2013 and Sunoco has decided that they want to build a natural gas pipeline carrying fracked gas to Marcus Hook, which is just out of Philly, for export.
“So obviously this is not a public utility, it's not serving Pennsylvanians; Pennsylvanians' needs are already met for what gas it is carrying, and because once upon a time Sunoco was carrying oil for public use, they have a certificate of public utility status for this pipeline. So because of that, they decided that not only could they repurpose that 80-year-old pipeline, they could build pretty much as many more as they wanted, based on this status.”
Wolk continued, “So the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, they've kind of said ‘We're not dealing with that,’ and unfortunately, Pennsylvania's court system is not the most just. A lot of Pennsylvanian courts have been taking them at their word. So Sunoco's been using this status to seize people's land from Ohio, where the pipeline begins, across Pennsylvania, and people really haven't had any recourse. So people are intimidated by the companies, and those who fight back, such as the Gerhart family, often face severe repercussions.”
Recently, more repercussions have landed on the family, who were served only days before the fundraiser with a writ of possession by their sheriff’s department. “Sunoco Logistics applied for this writ and the court granted it. [The writ] allows Sunoco the same access to the easement where the pipeline is to be built, but it increases the consequences for the Gerharts if they resist it,” Ray explained. In other words, the main change resulting from this development is harsher legal consequences for fighting the pipeline. “It's not surprising that the courts granted this. It means that Sunoco doesn't just want people to be arrested if they're blocking construction of the pipeline, they want them to be punished, and they want to make a huge deal out of it.”
This is, unfortunately, only a continuation of the horrors the Gerhart family, who founded the encampment, have faced since being forcefully brought into the narrative. “Two years ago was when Sunoco Logistics approached the Gerharts and offered them money for access to the woods behind their home to build this pipeline,” said Ray. “They have been resisting since then, resisting eminent domain proceedings, and a year ago, a year after that, even without all the permits that Sunoco needed to start building the pipeline, they sent in tree clearing crews to start clearing the trees. This is a classic move by the oil and gas companies, they do as much as they can to almost literally pave the way for construction even if they don't have all the rights yet. They just ease it through.”
The family has more reason for this fight than just an interest in protecting private property. “The Gerharts have about 70 acres of pristine woodlands that they live on,” explained Wolk. “They actually entered into an agreement over 20 years ago to preserve the woods on their property, and because of that and because they don't want to sell off the land for any amount of money, they said no. Since saying no, the mother of the family, Ellen Gerhart, a retired special education teacher, has been arrested three times. Elise, her daughter, has been arrested as well, and faced charges for actions on the pipeline. Sunoco has been closing in from both sides.”
Fortunately, the Gerharts and their supporters were prepared to put up a fight, or more accurately, to put up a tree sit. “For folks who don't know what a tree sit is, it's kind of a low budget treehouse that people get into to hopefully keep tree clearing crews from knocking down the trees that are connected to the tree sit,” Ray explained. “This tree sit was erected and tree clearing crews continued to clear trees within the right of way, but were not able to clear these trees. While this was happening, two supporters and Elise's mother were arrested. Some of the bails were set at $100,000 and $200,000.” A startled audience member shrieked in response.
“Yeah, pretty ridiculous, right?” Ray agreed. “It makes it very clear that it's very political how the law is being set in places where extraction is happening. Luckily those bails were reduced and people were able to get out. The sit persisted for two weeks, which is great, but unfortunately Elise, who lives there, was taken down from the sit and arrested. But those trees that were part of the sit are still alive. And that's where we stand today. That's Camp White Pine, and the tree sits that are currently going on.”
Needless to say, the camp falls into the category of “resistance camps.” However, there are important distinctions to make between similar sites of action, such as the now iconic Standing Rock reservation in Lakota territory. “I want to make it clear that this is very different because it's not indigenous-led,” said Ray, referring to Camp White Pine. “The stakes are very different. Our resistance is very different. But it's resistance nonetheless, and it’s not a one-off thing. For the last several years, people have been resisting pipelines and fracking doing road blockades, tree sits, through encampments, it's an ongoing process that's been escalating along with the fossil fuel escalation.”
Escalation is certainly not a foreign concept to the Gerhart family and supporters in the camp. “Sunoco has been getting its name smeared because of Standing Rock, and it's evil, and it deserves to have its name smeared, but it definitely wants to be making examples out of people, and wants to send people to jail for a really long time, which may happen, and that's part of why we need money. People are going to be arrested, it's almost a guarantee. They're going to have to go through pretty extensive legal proceedings, and that costs money. People will spend time in jail and that also costs money, to support them in it,” continued Ray, explaining why the fundraiser was necessary.
“We’re not doing resistance in a way that is easy for the nonprofit industrial complex to give us a whole bunch of money. We're being confrontational, not passive. It's hard to get money through the grant system, through which a lot of other organizations are able to get money. So that's why we're having to do events like this, or have bluegrass shows in the townie bar, or sell t-shirts and patches. In Philly there are a lot of resources, and it's really important that we share these resources with more rural people in rural places where they just don't exist. Central Pennsylvania is far away from everything. There's nothing around. And people don't have money. Anyone who is from rural Pennsylvania and has been fighting fracking knows that people out there don't get support for the work they do. Not from other states, not from a lot of nonprofits here in the state, it's just nonexistent while people are fighting for their lives.”
But despite a general lack of attention and resources, action camps have been powerfully effective in numerous ways. Camp White Pine seeks not only to draw attention to the construction and resistance to the Mariner East 2 pipeline, it also creates a physical barrier to expansion of the project, and an environment where skills for resistance can be shared among seasoned and new members of political and environmental movements. These are things that not every well-intentioned political demonstration can accomplish.
“Resistance doesn't happen in a day. It doesn't happen in a couple days. It doesn't happen on the weekend when you get off of work. It's definitely not going to happen by caravanning to DC on a Saturday when nobody is there, especially the President, who will actually be in Harrisburg, celebrating his 100 days,” said Ray in reference to the upcoming People’s Climate March. “The resistance has to be part of our lives. It needs to happen every day and be ongoing. That's how trust is built. That's how we're going to win.”
To donate to the Gerhart family, please visit: https://www.resistsunocopa.com/
To order “Defend What You Love” t-shirts to benefit Camp White Pine, please visit: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StopSunocoPA/
To donate to EDGE or to become involved, visit http://www.edgephilly.org/
Sarita Farnelli is a Philadelphia-based writer and organizer, covering grassroots movements and arts and entertainment. She can be found on Twitter at @sarita_ebooks.
May 1, 2017
It looks like Sunoco has finally arrived. We observed new construction activity on Route 352 near Manley Road (map link).
There may have been some friction already, since the local flower shop (Matlack Florist) apparently posted a sign reading "No Pipeline Access".
We'll keep an eye on developments, in the meanwhile please browse some images of what's happening in your community.
May 4, 2017
By Bill Rettew, email@example.com
WEST GOSHEN >> Supervisors engaged in heated discussion Wednesday night on two big issues in the township – sewers and pipelines.
Talk concerning both pipelines and the sewer system was heated at times, during Wednesday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting.
Democrat Tom Casey and Republican Margie Swart, who are both running for seats on the board, battled with supervisors and staff prior to the borough’s vote to borrow from $20 million to $27 million through a bond issue.
Discussion also centered on a township lawsuit with Sunoco Logistics and its Mariner 2 pipeline.
The township filed a two-part lawsuit asking Sunoco to abide by what David Brooman, township special council, said were terms of a May 2015 settlement agreement.
The suit alleged that Sunoco did not build an emergency safety valve, as was agreed to, and has moved the location of proposed above-ground infrastructure improvements, at Route 202 and Boot Road.
The municipal authority serves West Whiteland, East Goshen, Thornbury and part of Westtown townships. The proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline would stretch from Ship Road to Wilson Drive in the township.
The proposed pipeline, which would carry Marcellus Shale products such as butane, ethane and propane, would zig-zag 23.6 miles through Chester County and 11.4 miles in Delaware County where it would impact Thornbury, Edgmont, Middletown, Aston and Upper Chichester before reaching its final destination in Marcus Hook.
Brooman said the township was successful after Sunoco installed an emergency safety valve in the existing 8-inch Mariner East 1 Pipeline. He said Sunoco complied within 30 days of receiving the lawsuit.
“We filed a complaint requesting that Sunoco put in a fully automated safety valve (in Thornbury Township) and they did that,” Brooman said. “It’s moot, there’s nothing left to litigate.”
Casey believes that pipeline companies are bidding out another 5-7 pipelines to cross through the state, which will eventually deliver Marcellus Shale products to the refinery in Marcus Hook.
“We could be setting a very dangerous precedent with future pipelines,” Casey said. “The pipeline companies consider their existing right-of-ways, which often cross residential zones, as highways.”
The township will continue to battle Sunoco.
An over-55 community was planned for the site on the south side of Route 202. The township was slated to receive $2 million in storm water and other improvements from Traditions of America, Brooman said.
Sunoco plans to place two automated valves on the south side of Route 202 at the Janiec property, near the West Goshen firehouse, rather than what the township contends was supposed to be the north side of Route 202.
The board also gave the OK for the sewer authority to sell from $20 to $27 million of bonds for sewer system improvements. The deal has not yet been finalized.
The board voted 3-1 to authorize seeking the bond issue for the sewer authority. Supervisor Chris Pielli was opposed and Raymond Halvorsen was absent.
The authority is seeking bonds through RBC Capital.
Township Solicitor Kristin S. Camp said that income from customers would pay for both operation of the system and the bond issue.
Supervisors voted to guarantee the bonds.
Several audience members and Pielli were concerned that the authority had seemingly not fully considered seeking a bank loan or other forms of long-term financing.
“The authority is ineffectual at this point,” Casey said. “It cannot continue this way. It’s not how it’s supposed to work out.”
Pielli questioned whether the township had used all “due diligence” and whether the township was “haphazardly” operating.
“I’m yet to see any proof of a competitive process,” Pielli said. “We haven’t looked into other options. We’re diving into this head first.
Pielli also said the township might consider selling the authority, which he valued at approximately $70 million.
“I want to reap the maximum value for our township,” he said. “It can be run efficiently by the private sector.
April 14, 20176
By Bill Rettew, firstname.lastname@example.org, @dailylocal on Twitter
WEST GOSHEN >> With several township residents strongly opposing installation of the proposed Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline, a pair of elected representatives is fighting to improve safety and a public sharing of the financial bounty generated by pipelines.
Two Chester County elected officials, Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, and new Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, have taken the fight to Harrisburg.
Dinniman has been addressing the pipeline issue for five years. While he no longer represents West Goshen Township, he has supported several pipeline bills concerning notification, the financial impact and cost, safety and preserving the environment.
Chester County is home to the third most miles of pipelines in the state.
Comitta wants to make pipelines safer.
“I have a great deal of confidence in local emergency services personnel,” Comitta said. “They are highly dedicated and highly trained and I don’t have a concern about that, but we need additional training. I don’t know what the additional costs would be, but we should find out and support local emergency responders for what they need.”
Dinniman favors legislation that is “safe and respectful” and absorbs the cost impact on communities to get the product to market, Dinniman said. ”Everybody can have their cake and eat it too.”
Comitta represents West Goshen and is part of ongoing state budget discussions.
“Whether or not you support (pipelines), public safety has to be our number one concern.”
Better regulation to improve safety is key.
“Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is part of the Pennsylvania Constitution — clean air, fresh water,” Comitta said.
Dinniman supports taxing pipeline owners.
Last year’s SB-905 would have accessed a real estate tax to support local municipalities and school districts. Pipeline right-of-way would be taxed based on square footage, like conventional homeowners and businesses now are. Twenty other states now levy a fee.
“These companies say they want to be good neighbors,” Dinniman said. “Here is a way to prove it.”
Dinniman said that Chester County is “right in the middle of the way” for shipping Marcellus Shale products to ports in Baltimore, Wilmington and Philadelphia, which then ship product all over the world.
Dinniman also supports charging impact fees based on the price of the product, last year’s bill (SB- 557).
“We’re impacted but there’s no impact fee,” Dinniman said. “There is not one cent of profit from Marcellus Shale (products) and gas unless it gets to market.”
(SB-991) would regulate pipeline company land agents.
Dinniman said that several residents have recounted bad experiences, including late night house calls, sometimes before holidays.
The senator favors registering and creating state IDs for pipeline company representatives. Residents would be able to complain to the state about a registered agent, much like they can with a licensed real estate agent.
“If a person is abusive or gives wrong information then you can file an official complaint.”
A series of Dinniman-favored senate bills (SB- 801, 802, 803 and 804) would guarantee residents are properly notified and educated. Pipeline right-of way seizure by eminent domain would need to be approved by a state agency.
Dinniman also supports protecting agricultural conservation easements with a plan to replace land used for pipelines – acre for acre – like is common with mitigation parks, when property is taken by eminent domain.
March 18, 2017
Hints at suing West Goshen
Sunoco has hinted they may sue if WG continues action, an interesting response since Sunoco appear to be out of contract. The excerpt appears below.
Also, it appears it's open season on the financial institutions funding this. See the bulleted list articles below, particularly the last five.
Other related news items:
February 25, 2017
By Ginger Dunbar, Daily Local News
Posted: 02/17/17, 3:59 PM EST | Updated: 2 hrs ago
WEST GOSHEN >> The battle of Mariner East 1 and 2 is heating up.
Just days after Sunoco Logistics got the green light from the state Department of Environmental Protection for several key permits needed to start construction of its proposed pipeline, West Goshen Township filed a complaint on Friday with the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, alleging the company breached terms of a settlement in regards to the company’s plans.
The township filed the complaint against Sunoco Logistics in regard to the Mariner East 1 and 2, which will carry Marcellus Shale byproducts such as ethane, butane and propane across the state, through West Goshen in Chester County and eventually to the company’s Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County.
Mariner East 1 is already in use, completed in late 2014, and is shipping both ethane and propane. Mariner East 2, which would deliver hundreds of thousands of barrels of the gases at high pressure to the former Sunoco refinery site on the Delaware River waterfront, is still in the planning stages.
In a press release, West Goshen officials said they took the move in an effort to protect its residents and their properties. The township claims it negotiated with Sunoco Logistics to install remotely operated valves to be operational at two separate Mariner East 1 pipeline markers within 150 days of a June 15, 2015, settlement agreement. The valves are designed to permit remote and automatic mainline valve closure, isolating segments of the pipeline in the event of an emergency. To date, only one of those valves has been installed, according to the township.
“Sunoco Logistics did not live up to their commitments,” said attorney David Brooman, of High Swartz LLP in Norristown, special counsel to West Goshen Township. “This is surprising, disappointing and a violation of the 2015 settlement agreement. West Goshen Township intends to hold Sunoco Logistics to the letter and spirit of the settlement agreement.”
Jeffrey Shields, a spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, said in a statement that Sunoco is complying and will continue to do so.
“Sunoco Pipeline is in full compliance with the settlement agreement, and intends to meet all of its obligations,” Shields said. “We are disappointed that West Goshen chose to file a complaint, we dispute the allegations contained in the complaint, and we will vigorously defend this action before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The Mariner East 1 system is fully compliant with all federal and state safety regulations as currently operated.”
The complaint alleges that “the ongoing lack of a remotely operated valve at pipeline marker 236.6 constitutes a clear, present and ongoing danger to the citizens of the township” and “despite the clear, present and ongoing danger to township residents … (Sunoco Logistics) has delayed, engaged in obfuscation, and provided outright false reasons for why the automated valve closure … has not been installed despite the passage of more than two years and nine months since the settlement agreement was finalized.”
However, Sunoco said the valve is in place for safety.
“The automated valve site in dispute was agreed to as a safety enhancement, and the system is currently operating safely at or above those standards,” Sunoco said.
The township also recently learned that Sunoco Logistics plans to install and operate an above-ground pipeline valve at Mariner East 2 pipeline mile marker 344, near Greenhill and Boot Roads, in West Goshen. Sunoco Logistics promised in the settlement agreement to not construct or operate any additional above ground facilities for Mariner East 2 in the township without first notifying the township supervisors. The supervisors noted that no such notification was received from Sunoco Logistics, which the township contends also is in violation of its agreement with the township.
“We will vigorously advocate on behalf of our residents and urge Sunoco Logistics to honor the terms of the agreement it willingly consented to,” said West Goshen Township Manager Casey LaLonde. All five supervisors voted to file this legal action to protect the township residents.
The township has petitioned the PUC to issue an order declaring that Sunoco Logistics is in material violation of the 2015 settlement agreement and requests that Sunoco Logistics be required to install and have fully operational a remotely actuated mainline valve at mile marker 236.6 within 30 days of the Pennsylvania PUC’s ruling.
The township further requests that the PUC issue an order directing Sunoco Logistics to cease and desist with any actions in support of constructing, installing or operating any valve or additional above ground facilities for the Mariner East 2 pipeline on any property located in West Goshen. The township also requests that Sunoco Logistics face sanctions, including a daily fine, for its breach of the settlement agreement.
Sunoco Logistics is proposing to expand the existing Mariner East pipeline system through the construction of the Mariner East 2. It would be approximately 350 miles to transport natural gas liquids through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. The length of the project through Chester County is approximately 23.6 miles and in Delaware County, 11.4 miles.
Environmental groups filed an appeal after the state Department of Environmental Protection granted Sunoco Logistics the permits to complete the pipeline to carry propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica shale areas to the Sunoco Logistic refinery in Marcus Hook, where it will be processed and shipped around the world. The Clean Air Council, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Mountain Watershed Association appealed the decision, contending the negative impacts of the project have not been adequately addressed.
February 18, 2017
From everyone here, we wish you the best for 2017 and beyond.
In the latest West Goshen newsletter there was an article about adopting a historical commission. It will preserve what's here, and potentially make some local spots more attractive as a holiday tourist spot. East Goshen and other townships have been doing this for years. We've groused at WG township for unfavorable decisions in the past, they should get an atta-boy for this. This is a big step in the right direction. Thanks to the Board of Supervisors for this.
We'll have new material up shortly, in the meantime all previous material is still available in our archives.
From Eastbootroad, enjoy the holiday season. As always, thanks ever so kindly for the reader article contributions, and tips.
January 2, 2017
The Ants & The ElephantY
our efforts have gained recognition. West Goshen and a handful of surrounding townships are recognized as significant sources of resistance by the media.
Apparently we are the new political Viet Cong.
And we are making them cry and bleed money. Between the lackluster stock performance, more groups joining our cause and protracted delays, they're feeling our anger.
Also, we're including ways to put pressure on the financial institutions supporting them.
One group continued to fight well past the point they should have regrouped, and maybe re-examined their strategy. Apparently they didn't. Our concern is the legal fallout for the remainder of us seeking legal relief.
Details on each point follow below, it's here to show that we're making progress, and the effect your efforts are having.
Keep up the good work.
January 15, 2017
Newcomers to our cause
We have a new ally, Rose Valley. They aren't in the pipeline's path, but (smartly) aren't waiting to see if it will. They're already unanimously to approve a resolution expressing their “grave concern” about the pipeline.
West Texas is becoming aware, and almost annoyed that it required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to intervene in North Dakota. This also highlights their struggle with the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in Texas. (more)
January 15, 2017
New Headaches for Sunoco, Petrochemical Industry
Iowa Utilities Board Sued by Landowners
A group of landowners whose property was seized through eminent domain for the purpose of the Dakota Access pipeline had their day in court on this morning. The landowners contend the Iowa Utilities Board focused too much on the economic benefits of a pipeline when it granted Dakota Access a construction permit and use of eminent domain. Instead, they say, the focus should have been on the potential service a crude oil pipeline provides to Iowans, which they say is negligible. So the landowners posit the IUB lacked valid reasons grant the pipeline permit. The utilities board argues that since the pipeline is already finished in Iowa, the case is moot. But furthermore the IUB says it was appropriate to consider the economics of the oil market.
Sunoco's Mediocre Stocks
Sunday, January 15, 2017
F-Score Review on Shares of Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL)
January 13, 2017 EBJ Staff
Investors may be looking at the Piotroski F-Score when doing value analysis. The F-Score was developed to help find company stocks that have solid fundamentals, and to separate out weaker companies. Piotroski’s F-Score uses nine tests based on company financial statements. Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL) currently has a Piotroski F-Score of 5. One point is given for piece of criteria that is met. Typically, a stock with a high score of 8 or 9 would be seen as strong, and a stock scoring on the lower end between 0 and 2 would be viewed as weaker.
Adept investors may be in the process of testing multiple strategies as they strive to maximize returns. Some investors may be focused on price index ratios to help develop trading ideas. Currently, Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL)’s 6 month price index is 0.89929. The six month price index is calculated by dividing the current share price by the share price six months ago. A ratio above one indicates an increase in share price over the period. A ratio below one shows that there has been a price decrease over the time period.
Investors tracking shares of Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL) may be also be analyzing the company’s FCF or Free Cash Flow. FCF is a measure of the financial performance of a company. FCF is calculated by subtracting capital expenditures from operating cash flow. Currently, Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL) has an FCF score of 0.932116. The FCF score is an indicator that is calculated by combining free cash flow stability with free cash flow growth. Typically, a higher FCF score value would indicate high free cash flow growth. The company currently has an FCF quality score of -6.340485. The free quality score helps estimate free cash flow stability. FCF quality is calculated as the 12 ltm cash flow per share over the average of the cash flow numbers. With this score, it is generally considered that the lower the ratio, the better.
Let’s also do a quick check on the Q.i. (Liquidity) Value. Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL) has a current Q.i. value of 55.00000. This value ranks stocks using EBITDA yield, FCF yield, earnings yield and liquidity ratios. The Q.i. value may help investors discover companies that are undervalued. A higher value would represent low turnover and a higher chance of shares being mispriced. A lower value may represent larger traded value meaning more sell-side analysts may track the company leading to a smaller chance shares are priced incorrectly.
When narrowing in on the Value Composite score for Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE:SXL), we notice that the stock has a rank of 29. This is using a scale from 0 to 100 where a lower score may indicate an undervalued company and a higher score would represent an expensive or possibly overvalued company. This rank was developed by James O’Shaughnessy in 2011. The score is derived from five different valuation ratios including price to book value, price to sales, EBITDA to Enterprise Vale, price to cash flow and price to earnings.
The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said operators of the approximately 200,000 miles of hazardous liquids pipelines across the U.S. will have to perform more frequent inspections, extend inspections outside so-called high-consequence areas, and install leak-detection systems on all pipelines.
The measures also include extending reporting requirements to gathering lines – those that connect well-heads to larger transmission lines – that are not currently regulated by PHMSA.
The new rule strengthens the standards for the maintenance of ageing and high-risk infrastructure, increases the frequency and quality of tests, and extends leak-detection requirements, the agency said.
MIDDLETOWN >> Although the vote is not scheduled until Jan. 23, more than 60 township residents attended Monday night’s council meeting to show their support for approval of a quantitative risk assessment regarding the proposed Sunoco Logistics Mariner 2 pipeline. Council voted in September to approve the necessary easements and rights-of-way for the project. The township received $1.8 million for the use of the municipal land, $100,000 of which has been allocated for an assessment and specific emergency response plans. Members of council and the pipeline safety advisory committee have met several times in the ensuing months to establish the goals of the assessment.
“The changing energy environment in the United States requires that we all become increasingly anticipatory, predictive, and prepared for emerging risks,” said Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez, in a statement. “This is a forward-looking rule – it pushes operators to invest in increased data capabilities, to continuously improve their processes to assess and mitigate risk, and strengthens our framework for strong prescriptive regulations.”
10 States Where Citizens Are Fighting Pipeline Projects
Dec. 21, 2016 04:39PM EST
By Alexandra Rosenmann
With the Dakota Access Pipeline nearly 90 percent complete, developers are focusing their attention elsewhere. Meanwhile, protests against additional pipelines throughout the country have yet to receive a tenth of the airtime.
"If you draw a line from Chicago to the Gulf Coast—Houston, Port Arthur, Baton Rouge—that line goes through Patoka, Illinois," John Moody, a spokesman for the Association of Oil Pipelines told the Chicago Sun Times.
"Then start in Cushing, Oklahoma, and draw a line across to Cleveland and Detroit and central Ohio, and that line goes through Patoka. Patoka is a crossroads for energy delivery."
Beyond North Dakota, here are 10 states that have also been battling pipeline projects.
Construction of the 255-mile Nexus Gas Transmission project, a partnership between Houston-based Spectra Energy and Detroit's DTE Energy, is expected to begin by early 2017.
The Dakota Access Pipeline project faced resistance in Iowa long before it reached Standing Rock. In July 2015, landowners in its path urged the Iowa Utilities Board to reject permits needed for the project to proceed.
"Our century-plus-old farm was taken care of for four generations and I will do my best to keep it that way," they wrote in their objection. But the anti-pipeline group Bold Iowa has pledged to keep fighting the four-state, 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline until it becomes operational. The group's direct action includes standing in court with Iowa landowners in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline battling eminent domain abuse.
Standing Rock's success this December reinvigorated a more than two-year battle to half construction of the Trans-Pecos pipeline, a 148-mile joint venture with Mexico's federal electricity commission, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad.
The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline is currently planning a 162-mile pipeline that would cut through the Atchafalaya Basin and 11 Louisiana parishes. But resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline has already spread worldwide. Concerned citizens and environmental groups from New Zealand to South Africa have gathered thousands of signatures, leading the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to call for a public hearing in which the water quality permits of the site will be assessed.
The Sierra Club, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Flint Riverkeepers filed a motion in late October to expedite review of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, which includes the $3.2 billion Sabal Trail gas pipeline. Protests have continued for the past month and 16 demonstrators have been arrested thus far.
On Nov. 15, outside the Army Corps of Engineers building, Huntsville protesters gathered in solidarity with the thousands at Standing Rock. The Sabal Trail pipeline is set to cross three states and cover 500-plus miles (86 in Alabama, 162 in Georgia, 268 in Florida).
Diamond Pipeline is a planned 440-mile oil pipeline by Plains All American Pipeline and Valero Energy Corp across 14 counties and five rivers in Arkansas. The project is set to begin by the end of 2016.
8. North Carolina
A nearly 600-mile proposed pipeline drew protests in three cities on Nov. 19. In Pembroke, Fayetteville and Nashville, hundreds marched in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline which awaits a review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Dominion Power and Duke Energy's $5 billion project would carry natural gas to North Carolina from fracking operations in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Sunoco Logistics pushed back the timeline for its Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline on Nov. 12. The $2.5 billion project has not yet received the necessary approvals, even months after charging Huntingdon County residents who objected to the pipeline being built on their property.
10. New York
The National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. awaits approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin its proposed $410 million Northern Access Project in Western New York. Meanwhile, 50 miles outside of New York City, Spectra Energy's pipeline expansion project continues to face controversy.
“The changing energy environment in the United States requires that we all become increasingly anticipatory, predictive, and prepared for emerging risks,” said Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez, in a statement. “This is a forward-looking rule – it pushes operators to invest in increased data capabilities, to continuously improve their processes to assess and mitigate risk, and strengthens our framework for strong prescriptive regulations.”
Sunoco Victories and other Unintended Consequences
(what can happen when people represent themselves, or fail to grasp an effective strategy)
Pa. Supreme Court rejects appeal by property owners fighting land seizures for Mariner East II pipeline
Matt Miller | email@example.com
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear an appeal by Cumberland County property owners who are fighting the drive by Sunoco Logistics to seize their land for the Mariner East II natural gas transmission pipeline.
The decision by the state's highest court comes five months after a divided Commonwealth Court panel rejected a plea by the three couples. The Supreme Court justices did not state a reason for refusing to hear the landowners' appeal of the Commonwealth Court ruling.
The pipeline opponents - R. Scott and Pamela Martin and Douglas and Lyndsey Fitzgerald of North Middleton Township, and Harvey and Anna Nickey of Lower Mifflin Township - have lost every round of the court fight.
They went to Commonwealth Court after county President Judge Edward E. Guido dismissed objections they filed to try to bar Sunoco from taking parts of their land through eminent domain.
In siding with Guido, the majority on the seven-member panel of Commonwealth Court judges found that Sunoco is a "public utility corporation" that has the power to seize private land for its multi-state pipeline. Commonwealth Court Judges Patricia A. McCullough disagreed with that decision. McCullough claimed it will "gravely undermine" property rights.
Mariner East II is to run from Washington County across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook in Delaware County. The pipeline is to extend into Ohio and West Virginia as well. It is to have off-load points in Pennsylvania, but its products also are to be shipped out of state.
Sunoco is proposing to permanently take 1.5 acres of the Martin's land on Longs Gap Road; 0.14 acres of the Fitzgerald's land along Pine Creek Drive and 0.7 acres of the Nickey's property off the Blain McCrea Road.
What You Can DoH
it back at a legal pressure point. Hard. That's exactly what some people are doing to the financial instututions funding some of the pipeline. Many of these financial instutions are bleeding customers, and are already in damage control mode. Bear in mind, they're making a lot of money from this project, and otherwise have no skin in the game. Know this: the banks and investors will never allow this in their neighborhood.
A few familiar institutions appear (Wells Fargo, Downingtown, Citizens, JP Morgan, etc.):
Keep this in mind when you do your banking. Here's an article outlining strategies for minimizing support for the Dakota pipeline, but it'll work just as well here. The article text appears in the inset, below.
Meanwhile, the Dakota Protesters also went this route. They demanded meetings with the various financial institutions. Here's the outcome:
|Happy New Year 2017||The Ants & The Elephant||Newcomers to our cause|
|New Headaches for Sunoco, Petrochemical Industry||Iowa Utilities Board Sued by Landowners||Sunoco's Mediocre Stocks|
|Current Status||10 States Where Citizens Are Fighting Pipeline Projects||Sunoco Victories and other Unintended Consequences|
|What You Can Do||A citizen’s guide to divesting from morally ambiguous national banks||West Goshen files complaint against Sunoco Logistics in pipeline battle|
|Sunoco Fires Back At West Goshen Township||Local reps take pipeline issue to the state level||Pipeline, sewer talk gets heated in West Goshen|
|Sunoco Breaking Ground in East Goshen||In Pennsylvania, Resistance Grows to Proposed Sunoco Pipeline||Big Oil Now Has Authority to Arrest You for Protesting a Pipeline on Your OWN Property|
|Middletown won’t act on pipeline neighbors’ complaints||Controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline project getting set for construction in Lower Swatara||Powelson nominated to serve on FERC board|
|Pipeline neighbors sue Sunoco Logistics||2017 Supervisor Primary Election Results||Sunoco passes thourgh our area|
|Judge Delivers Blow To Trump Administration In Dakota Access Fight||Sunoco seeks injunction against anti-pipeline family and supporters in Huntingdon County||PA Lawmaker Working to Curb Pipeline Protestors Tied to Shadow Lobbyists for Company Behind Project|
|Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvania’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline||Opposition to Mariner 2 pipeline is heating up||One family’s bold stand to block construction of a new pipeline|
|EPA steps up pressure on FERC over new pipeline assessment||Sunoco Asks to Remove Mariner East 2 Protesters -- If Necessary||Judge rules family must leave property for pipeline construction|
|Pipeline protestors face arrest, charges on their own land||Opposition to pipeline plans grows in county; forum held in Uwchlan||Too Little, Too Late|
|Judge shuts down all Mariner East 2 pipeline drilling across Pennsylvania|