Throughout each stage of development, the Mariner East projects have gone above and beyond to adhere to safety standards and bring affordable energy connectivity to people across Pennsylvania. Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a news release suspending all construction of the pipeline until certain requirements are met.
As the PEIA has said many times, all stakeholders involved in this process have a shared premium on safe pipeline construction. Sunoco Logistics, DEP, and environmental groups demonstrated this crucial nexus point through EHB settlements’ continual recognition of the necessary function the Mariner East projects will play in Pennsylvania across energy, environment and economic concerns.
With the new DEP announcement, it is in everyone’s best interest for Sunoco and the Pennsylvania DEP to resolve this matter as quickly as possible so as to continue safe construction expeditiously. The timing here is crucial, given the potential ramifications of stopping-and-starting drilling in these contexts. As the owner and president of Geo Logic Environmental Services Bill Godsey explains,
Mariner East 2’s example demonstrates just how precarious and uncertain the regulatory process remains for pipeline builders. Inadvertent returns have been blown out of proportion, which has pressured regulators to halt drilling to revise drilling plans. Once plans are approved, HDDs are allowed to resume. That approach works well in a vacuum, but it ignores the environmental risk of idling a drill underground. It is difficult to speculate what the worst case scenario could be, but the start-and-stop approach could risk increased harm via collapse of the borehole. At the end of the day, the environmental risk could be even greater than simply using an open-cut approach.
The Mariner East projects have demonstrated their continued dedication to system integrity and environmental protection – and are not new projects. Successive reports and court hearings across the Commonwealth demonstrate the immediate benefits and the long-term potential of this energy infrastructure expansion – and underscore the importance of expeditious, safe construction.