As many may have seen, Governor Tom Wolf granted a series of waivers to Sunoco/Energy Transfer to continue stabilization and construction work on a number of Mariner East 2 sites in Chester and Delaware counties.
Predictably, pipeline opponents are up in arms about the construction but as with many of the permits and exemptions granted for infrastructure work, they have been issued to mitigate environmental and public safety concerns.
Moreover, pipeline installation is reliant horizontal drilling procedures. This is the most state of the art, and least intrusive, installation method but it requires that sites be opened, pipeline installed, and the site closed. Should these sites be left unfinished for weeks or months at a time as seems likely from the uncertainty of COVID – 19, consequences that could cause the collapse of bore holes and shifting in the land.
It is important that workers be able to complete the work that is in process. Workers are following CDC recommended social distancing protocols and proper sanitation.
Governor Wolf’s decision to award these waivers to complete the construction that is in-process and prioritizes the environmental and community safety.
The Mariner East pipeline system is an important component of the state’s energy security. As has been well-documented, Mariner transports propane and ethane, two resources widely used for home heat and electricity. Allowing construction to continue with precautions in place was the right move by the Governor.