Last night, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) held a public hearing to discuss 19 proposals by the public and private utilization of the Delaware River Basin. Unfortunately, opponents to Pennsylvania pipeline infrastructure development used the gathering to focus on issues outside the scope and the deliberation of the commissioners.
One of the items on the agenda was Sunoco Logistics’ request for water crossings in the Delaware River watershed as part of their Mariner East pipeline project. But for many of those in attendance, the hearing was a chance to express their feelings about pipeline development and, even more broadly (and off topic), fossil fuel development in the state, rather than the safety of a particular project.
Moreover, many of the concerns posed by environmentalists ended with calls to action that fell outside the purview of the Commission, such as a call for a comprehensive review of the pipeline project, a request for public hearings outside of the Delaware River watershed, and for a delay in any permit while pending litigation outside the purview of the Commission was considered. Additionally, two New Jersey-based environmental groups spoke out against a Pennsylvania-specific pipeline project.
A number of pipeline infrastructure supporters kept the meeting and the Commission focused on the decision before the body, highlighting the economic benefits of the proposed Mariner East pipeline. PEIA member and LiUNA Mid Atlantic Legislative Director Abe Amoros spoke, reminding the commissioners of the importance of the Mariner East project to the state. He explained the safety precautions Sunoco Logistics uses, and the large creation of jobs the pipeline’s construction and maintenance will bring to the region. Many labor workers attended the hearing, and, echoing Amoros’ comments, they explained the jobs provided by the Mariner East projects are not short term opportunities for local community members, but lifelong careers at family-sustaining wages.
Following the public hearing, Amoros was quoted in the Burlington County Times reiterating that “study after study (has) shown that pipelines are the safest, most efficient form of transporting our energy resources.” Pipelines continue to exceed all other options of transporting energy resources. Supportive voices were echoed by other coalition members, including Trish McFarland of the Delaware Chamber and members of the IOUE.
It is evident that Mariner East will be supporting Pennsylvania’s economy and providing a safe option for transporting the abundant energy source of natural gas liquid throughout the state. Beyond job creation, the Mariner East project will be providing reliable, safe energy for years to come. We encourage more opportunities to hear the opinions of local community members in the surrounding areas of the pipeline route, and urge all those to listen to the real reasons this project will so greatly benefit our state.
Our Alliance welcomes discussion and education about how best to support, grow and strengthen pipeline infrastructure across Pennsylvania. But we stand against anti-growth agendas and attempts to derail regulatory decision making.