Sunoco Logistics says it expects no problems through construction and beyond, though environmental groups across the state fear the worst. Dillon Carr reports for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Freshly approved permits in hand, Sunoco Logistics is digging away on its Mariner East 2 pipeline — a project that will quadruple the volume of natural gas liquids flowing across Pennsylvania once the company navigates more than 2,000 streams, wetlands, roads and railways between Western Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area.
The company says it expects no problems through construction and beyond, though environmental groups across the state fear the worst.
“When they get it wrong, people die or lose homes, water quality, air quality. They have long-term repercussions,” said Melissa Marshall, community advocate with the Mountain Watershed Association.
The Melcroft-based conservation group, with Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Clean Air Council, appealed a recent DEP decision to permit construction of the pipeline.
Judge Bernard A. Labuskes Jr. of the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board on Thursday rejected a request by the environmental groups to reconsider a decision he made a week earlier to not block the DEP-issued permits and thus halt pipeline construction.
A hearing is scheduled to start Wednesday before Labuskes to consider arguments from the environmental groups about whether the DEP review process was adequate.
Sunoco is awaiting final water-crossing permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. Company spokesman Jeffrey Shields declined to say where work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline is under way in Pennsylvania.
Mariner East 2 will cross 36 miles and 270 properties in Westmoreland County; none of the approximately 250 oil and gas companies with production in the county are currently laying pipeline, according to the DEP.
About 580 miles of existing pipelines form an underground spider web across the county. Those include gas transmission and hazardous liquid lines, according to National Pipeline Mapping System data.
Pennsylvania has more than 12,000 miles of large-diameter oil and gas pipelines, with the miles of natural-gas gathering lines expected to at least quadruple by 2030, according to a February 2016 report from the Governor's Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force.
The Mariner East project of Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics carries natural gas liquids from Marcellus and Utica shale gas wells in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia to the company's Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County, where it is processed, stored and distributed to market.
The initial phase involved Mariner East 1, an older gas pipeline that ran from Philadelphia to Delmont with an additional 50-mile spur to Chartiers, Washington County, that went online in 2014.
A second line — Mariner East 2 — will allow the company to ship more ethane, butane and propane to Marcus Hook.
To traverse the 306 miles from the border with the West Virginia panhandle to the facility outside Philadelphia, crews installing the Mariner East 2 will cross roughly 750 streams, 575 wetlands, 670 roads and 25 railroads.