Over the weekend, the Pottsville Republican & Evening Record published a story about pipeline work being visible in Schuylkill County. The work was related to the 186-mile Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The story was the result of a tour granted to media last week at a staging area in Tremont.
More than 370 people were employed there, working 10-hour days, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., six days a week, according to the story. Many of the employees are local union workers who are helping to build the $3 billion pipeline, which includes a construction workforce of about 2,300 who are directly employed by the pipeline company or its contractors, and another 6,000 additional workers who are working on the project either indirectly or as subcontractors in related industries.
But all of that work — and associated jobs — is now on hold. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday halted work in response to an emergency motion filed Oct. 30 by environmental groups opposing the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The timing of any next steps is unclear.
This isn’t the first time opponents have used the courts to stop or delay construction that is already under way. The Environmental Hearing Board halt directional drilling on the Mariner East 2 pipeline project in July until an August hearing. The project later restarted. The case was just one in a string of cases and subsequent rulings.
Let’s be clear: These projects have been the subject of intense scrutiny. Local voices have been heard at dozens of public meetings and hearings over the years. Regulators have been anything but lax in their reviews after testimony and comments, and before issuing legal approvals. But these cases persist.
The following is a statement on this issue by the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. Please feel free to quote me, Kurt Knaus, as spokesman:
“This project remains critically important for Pennsylvania — and especially so for the skilled laborers and highly trained workers who now find themselves wondering what comes next. After years of review and considerable public input, Atlantic Sunrise received its legal approval. The courts should move quickly to resolve this matter and get this project back on track. Beyond the jobs affected, it’s also important to understand the potential for environmental risks related to start-and-stop construction activity. That makes it even more critical for a speedy solution.”
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.
Kurt Knaus, Spokesman