Governor Tom Wolf initiated a multi-faceted action on Friday meant to push state regulators into holding Mariner East owner, Energy Transfer LP, more accountable for its work in Pennsylvania.
The biggest policy change announced in the statement was the official suspension of the state’s review process for clean water permit applications by Energy Transfer LP as well as any other pending approvals by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell told the AP, “This hold will continue until the operator corrects their violations to our satisfaction.”
The suspension will affect the in-service date for the Revolution Pipeline and the Mariner East 2 pipeline. According to the AP story, the action was prompted by unstable soil and uncorrected erosion around the Revolution pipeline in western Pennsylvania that was left unaddressed by the company after being ordered to address it in October.
“There has been a failure by Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries to respect our laws and our communities,” said Gov. Wolf in the release. “This is not how we strive to do business in Pennsylvania, and it will not be tolerated.”
In addition to the permit bar, the governor also called on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to conduct a remaining life study of Mariner East 1. In Lebanon County, a 1930’s-era 8-inch pipe is used as Mariner East 1, while the local portion of Mariner East 2 uses new pipe laid last year. In other areas of the state, namely Chester County, 1930’s pipe is being used for the “new” Mariner East 2 as well.
In general, pipeline construction has disturbed fragile karst formations that undergird much of Pennsylvania’s terra firma, making the terra less firma. Residents living near the pipeline have said they are terrified. Some residents in West Cornwall have already reported well water contamination. In June, the 12-inch pipe specifically spilled 33,000 gallons of gasoline near the Darby Creek outside Philadelphia. In December, Chester County District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan (R) announced a criminal investigation into Energy Transfer LP’s construction of the pipelines. Mariner East 1 has been shut down since late January following a sinkhole that exposed portions of the pipeline in Chester County.
In the statement, the Governor also pushed the General Assembly to create legislation that designates an authority with the power to review intrastate pipeline routes, as well as legislation requiring additional disclosure for pipelines close to schools and additional planning for natural gas related emergencies.