Baseless Anti-Pipeline Rhetoric Undermines Pennsylvania’s Energy Progress

A recent op-ed by former State Senator and Chester County Commissioner, Earl Baker, was published in the Daily Local News detailing the recent backlash by anti-pipeliners and even Chester County Commissioners surrounding the inadvertent return caused by horizontal directional drilling (HDD) into Marsh Creek Lake in Chester County. The op-ed highlighted how such activities can undermine energy progress in Pennsylvania, which will ultimately increase costs for Pennsylvania households and families.

Following the inadvertent return of drilling mud, a non-toxic combination of water and bentonite clay, several anti-pipeliners claimed drinking water had been impacted, despite the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) stating that “there are no concerns about drinking water safety.” One Commissioner sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf asking that Mariner East pipeline’s be revoked indefinitely until “…independent third party experts, not hired by Sunoco or employed by DEP, are given complete access to the site to conduct an honest evaluation as to whether Sunoco’s installation methods are in fact safe.”

Baker summarized the danger of officials undermining respected professional authorities like the DEP writing,

“What the commissioners are demanding now, if used across the entire environmental fabric of issues, would make progress difficult and dragged out at length, and moreover undermine the legal and environmental authority of the regulatory agencies. Should elected officials and anti-pipeline activists in southeast Pennsylvania be successful in stigmatizing and undermining the development of the Commonwealth’s natural resources and accompanying infrastructure it will be their very neighbors that pay the costs.”

He notes that the natural gas industry has had a significant impact on the Keystone State’s economy. In fact, it now supports over 300,000 jobs and has saved Pennsylvania households and families billions on their energy bills over the last decade. Baker eloquently summarized the issue at hand stating,

“The costs of outspoken anti-pipeline rhetoric are real. Hyping emotion around the Marsh Creek Lake incident has needlessly increased anxieties about pipelines and undermined public trust in Pennsylvania’s DEP. Chester County and southeast Pennsylvania at large could benefit from taking a second to pause and reflect on all aspects before utilizing disproportionate measures when incidents occur.”