PUC Hearings are a Political Stunt

Voters in Chester County are scheduled to go to the polls in two weeks. One of the biggest elections to be decided is who will represent Chester County on the County Commission. One of the sitting Commissioners, lost in the primary and is not on the ballot, which has the other two incumbents fearing for their political lives ahead of November 5th.

We bring this up, because the Chester County Commissioners are a party to a lawsuit before the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge, Elizabeth Barnes along with other residents of Southeast Pennsylvania. While these hearings almost always take place in Harrisburg, the Chester County Commissioners arranged for a hearing this Wednesday and Thursday in Chester County. As the West Chester Daily Local has reported, “absent from the hearings will be expert witnesses, who are scheduled to testify in July 2020 in Harrisburg, by court order.”

Although the real meat of the testimony will not be heard for another nine months, the Chester County Commissioners somehow got a special hearing to take place in Chester County thirteen days before an election. This appears to be a political stunt more than anything.

Mariner East has proven to be a hot-button political issue in Southeast Pennsylvania. During this election year, district attorneys have launched investigations into the pipeline that turned up nothing, councils are initiating risk assessments that fail to tell us more than we already knew, a state senator filed a frivolous lawsuit in which he lacked standing, and a state representative showed her true colors comparing construction workers to Nazis. All of these silly activities are paid for by the taxpayers.

Sanity in a political season is hard to come by.

What we do know however is that Mariner East is projected to generate $9.1 billion of economic activity in Pennsylvania, including just short of 60,000 jobs. Not to mention, the countless economic benefits this project will provide Pennsylvania through increased access to efficient, affordable energy for consumers.

This age of political gamesmanship focuses less on bread and butter economic issues like jobs and economic success and instead politicians prefer political stunts to salt the wounds of division.

Mariner East is a legally permitted project that received over 29,000 comments and issued the permits after what the DEP said “are among the most stringent DEP has ever issued for this type of construction activity.” To say that residents and the general public did not have a say is laughable. They just didn’t like the fact that their opinions failed to persuade regulators and are throwing a fit like a three-year old told to finish their broccoli.

Politics is perception and the perception of the Chester County Commission’s sponsored hearings this week has everything to do with political survival.