Over the weekend Energy Transfer announced that its flagship natural gas pipeline – Mariner East 2 – has gone into operation. The pipeline, originally announced in 2014, marks the introduction of a key infrastructure component for Pennsylvania and the energy industry at large.
Kurt Knaus, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, offered the following in light of this big announcement:
“…Energy Transfer Partners announced over the holidays on Dec. 29 that the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline began service. This is good news for Pennsylvania. Mariner East 2 represents one of the biggest economic opportunities Pennsylvania has seen in generations — a $9.1 billion investment that will support over 57,000 jobs and generate an estimated $122 million to the state during construction, according to Econsult Solutions Inc.
Spanning some 350 miles across Pennsylvania, Mariner East is among the biggest infrastructure projects that the state has seen in a generation, and it’s being built by skilled laborers who understand what’s at stake. Not only do union members live along the pipeline route, but they also receive comprehensive training nearby, as LiUNA members do at a complex in Exton, to ensure these pipelines and their related assets are developed safely and responsibly.
Still, some remain critical of the project, despite years of public input, numerous legal findings that demonstrate the project has been legally permitted, and intense regulatory scrutiny that continues today. It’s important to highlight some of the key points to dispel the myths that this project has been rushed, or that it poses any risk to the public.
Here are some facts related to the project:
- Repurposing existing energy infrastructure is a tried-and-tested practice, employed for decades to help our state and nation keep up with pipeline demand. When an energy company wants to repurpose existing infrastructure, the process is treated with all the safety considerations of a brand new construction project. Using the same set of standards that a new pipeline construction project would implement, crews in repurposing projects still must uphold the same level of safety standards, and those projects only move forward after regulatory approval.
- With this project specifically, the 12-inch line being used for Mariner East passed state and federal safety inspections. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission confirmed in a letter to three school district superintendents in the southeast that the pipeline builder performed two hydrostatic tests in October 2017 and September 2018 and found the line maintained pressure and did not leak.
- An independent analysis compiled for West Goshen Township in Chester County on the use of a 12-inch pipeline concluded that the pipeline builder meets and exceeds a number of requirements of the federal pipeline safety regulations, and that the project meets or exceeds the prudent technical approaches commensurate with the safe transportation of natural gas liquids. The report was compiled by Accufacts Inc., which has more than 40 years of experience in the energy industry and is run by a certified safety management engineer with a special focus on proper design and operation in areas of unique population density or of an environmentally sensitive nature. The full report is available on West Goshen’s website.
- All of these findings mirror study after study that show pipelines are the safest, most efficient way to transport energy resources. According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the natural gas delivery system is actually the safest form of energy delivery in the country.
- Anyone who had anything to say about this project had ample opportunities to provide input — and their voices have been heard. More than 29,000 formal comments were submitted at five state hearings held across the line as part of a review process that stretched more than three years.
- An administrative law judge with the PUC recently struck down pipelines opponents’ last-ditch effort to shut down the Mariner East projects, ruling against a petition they filed claiming that the pipeline builder hasn’t done enough to ensure communities and emergency responders have the information they need regarding safety.
- In fact, the pipeline builder annually offers awareness and emergency response training sessions with local responders, officials and excavators across its pipeline system. Las year, more than 2,100 attendees were at meetings in Pennsylvania. A supplemental training effort, the Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach (MERO) program, provided responders with additional guidance on hazardous materials and public safety sources. The MERO program has trained 2,350 individuals since 2013 across the pipeline’s entire footprint.
It is clear that this is the most scrutinized, highly regulated project in Pennsylvania in a generation. Contrary to the claims of a few, the reality is that pipelines must adhere to strict state and federal regulation throughout pipeline construction, testing and infrastructure replacement to ensure system integrity. The process for Mariner East was rigorous. The requirements fo construction were strict. And the rules for operation ensure compliance and enhanced public safety. The start of this project is a win for our commonwealth and its workers, and the approvals it has gained along the way should reinforce to the public just how much Mariner East has been studied, scrutinized and examined to guarantee it meets the highest standards for safe operation.”