On Wednesday evening, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a virtual hearing regarding Energy Transfer’s proposed permit modifications for a small section of the 20-inch Mariner East pipeline in Chester County. Virtual hearings as such are structured to allow the public to provide on-the-record testimony or input on a matter impacting the public. The opposition to the proposed modifications went down a road of misinformation, erroneous allegations and sheer falsities.
More than two dozen stakeholders from across the commonwealth provided testimony during the DEP’s hearing on Wednesday night, and it should be noted that more than half of them showed up in support of DEP’s approval of the modifications.
A regular pipeline opponent named Christina Digiulio (who goes by P.K. Ditty on social media) spoke erroneously, claiming that her well was somehow contaminated from pipeline construction. The truth is that there has never been a complaint received from her about this well.
In the same unfounded manner, a few anti-pipeliners mentioned that Marsh Creek Lake was “still closed” and “can’t be used” because of an inadvertent return of non-toxic drilling mud last August. In reality, the lake was never closed and remains safe for recreational use. The only remaining “impact” of last year’s IR are two turbidity curtains near the lake, as required by DEP for sheer precaution. As a reminder, protestors kayaked out into the lake the day after the IR last year, vicariously demonstrating its safety.
Hypocrisy was also on full display. Opponents complained that Mariner’s supporters were talking about jobs and economic benefits when that’s “not what the hearing is about.” Yet, opponents kept arguing incorrectly that the pipeline and the products in it will not benefit Pennsylvanians in any way. Not only is that wildly untrue (these products are distributed locally, and even what’s exported overseas often comes back to us in finished form – from thousands household items we use every day, to medical products), but the benefit to Pennsylvanians also technically wasn’t the topic of the hearing. Regardless, the pipeline project’s vast impact on PA’s economy is relevant; the completion of the pipeline project essentially depends on the approval of this or another permit modification, and the eocnomy is one of the many reasons it’s so important for it to be completed.
In addition, opponents complained that one of the Mariner East supporters who spoke does not live in Pennsylvania and thus is not impacted by the project. Yet, an activist from Philadelphia who spoke about her opposition to the modifications, while in the same general region as the project, also is not impacted. She even referred to Marsh Creek Lake by the wrong name, “Mill Creek Lake.”
Finally, there were very large claims that Sunoco doesn’t care about landowners nor the community they reside in. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Energy Transfer’s right-of-way and public affairs teams work with landowners to keep them well informed and taken care of. The public outreach of Energy Transfer is a constant effort to keep local governments, state regulators, landowners, and other stakeholders up to speed on the status of construction activity. There is even a 24/7 community hotline for questions and concerns regarding the project. Through it all, they live and work here, too – and have a vested interest in safely and efficiently completing this project.
All in all, the facts are clear. Some just choose to ignore them. The majority of those who testified at the hearing were in full support of the Mariner East, encouraging the DEP to approve the applications under review. People understand why this is the best option from every angle. Whether you’re looking at it economically, environmentally, or from an access to energy resources standpoint, you can see that the Mariner East pipeline system is the safest and most efficient way to transport the natural gas liquids we all use and rely on ever day. Energy Transfer has worked tirelessly to meet and exceed requirements throughout the pipeline’s construction, working closely with regulators. Repeated misinformation indicating otherwise has no merit.