Last evening, a local zoning board in Lebanon County turned back the latest attempt by pipeline opponents to halt the construction of the Mariner East pipeline. Lebanon County’s Zoning Hearing Board voted unanimously to pass the following four motions:
- Sunoco Pipeline LP is a public utility,
- Sunoco Pipeline LP is entitled to seek permits under Section 27 of the West Cornwall Township Zoning Ordinance,
- The permits were in fact issued properly, and
- Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County lack standing in this process.
A transcript of the Zoning Hearing Board’s ruling can be found here.
At issue is a legal challenge filed by Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, an anti-pipeline group, in 2014 questioning whether Sunoco Pipeline had secured the permits necessary to build a pump station in West Cornwall Township in Lebanon County via eminent domain, which is granted through Sunoco’s status as a public utility.
Despite these opposition efforts, critical pipeline infrastructure construction projects like the Mariner East have continued and Pennsylvania courts have upheld Sunoco’s utility status multiple times. Earlier this month, a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel ruled in favor of Mariner East’s parent company, Sunoco Pipeline LP, upholding their status as a public utility. In June, Huntingdon County Common Pleas Court Judge George Zanic ruled against efforts to delay construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. On May 15, the Commonwealth Court validated the utility status of Sunoco Pipeline by dismissing an appeal that was filed by pipeline opponents. These examples are just a snapshot of the series of recent and repeated rulings against project opponents.
Prior to last night’s ruling, four hearings were held over the course of two weeks to allow members of the local community to comment.
The following is a statement on this issue by the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. Please feel free to quote me, Kurt Knaus, as spokesman:
“After more than three years of planning, public hearings, and regulatory approvals, the Mariner East pipeline is nearing completion. Attempts to halt this critical infrastructure project — which will benefit Pennsylvanians across the commonwealth — by a few, vocal activists should not be heeded. Mariner East has been legally permitted and should be built without delay. The positive economic benefits that will result from increased access to homegrown energy products, the addition of over 30,000 jobs, and increased investment statewide across a wide range of industries are simply too good to pass up.”
For more than two years, the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance has advocated for the safe, responsible development of critical infrastructure and boosts in economic activity.