- Marie Cusick reports for StateImpact:
- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection has reached a settlement with three environmental groups that were challenging its issuance of permits for the embattled Mariner East 2 Pipeline.
The pipeline is planned to carry natural gas liquids from western Pennsylvania to an export terminal near Philadelphia; it has faced numerous problems throughout its construction — including spills, sinkholes, and legal disputes, like this one.
In 2017, the Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association challenged the construction permits DEP issued to Sunoco for the project.
“While this doesn’t cure the violations that have already taken place, it puts in place critical protections for future projects,” said Maya van Rossum, of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “Holding this company accountable and holding the DEP accountable at every turn is vitally important.”
Lisa Dillinger, a spokeswoman for Sunoco’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, said the settlement agreement will have no impact on the project.
“From the outset, Sunoco has maintained that the permits were properly and lawfully issued by PADEP and fully protective of the environment,” she wrote in an email.
The state Public Utility Commission has temporarily halted construction on the project in West Whiteland, Chester County due to safety concerns.
On Thursday DEP agreed to pay $27,500 to the environmental groups, money that will help them recoup costs. The agency also agreed to implement new policies aimed at enhancing public participation around pipeline projects.
Among other things, DEP has pledged to post more information online, including non-privileged, non-confidential materials it receives from companies seeking pipeline permits, as well as technical deficiency letters it issues to pipeline companies, and final decision documents.
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