Today, May 24, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Barnes issued an interim emergency order shutting down operations of the Mariner East 1 pipeline as well as halting construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline in West Whiteland, Pennsylvania. Judge Barnes’s ruling, specifically:
“seeks an Interim Emergency Order: (1) enjoining Respondent from or continuing construction on Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline (ME2) and Mariner East 2X (ME2X) in West Whiteland Township; (2) enjoining Respondent from operating Mariner East 1; (3) directing Respondent to conduct extensive geophysical and geotechnical tests along the actual and proposed routes of ME1, ME2 and ME2X in West Whiteland Township; (4) directing Respondent to conduct a public risk assessment regarding persons, property and environment located within West Whiteland Township; (5) directing Respondent to disclose to Petitioner and his constituents the risks associated with Mariner East 1, 2 and 2X and activities associated with these pipelines; and (6) directing Sunoco to better inform emergency responders, hospitals, schools and township officials how to respond in the event of an emergency caused by a release or ignition of hazardous volatile gases transported in ME1, ME2 or ME2X.”
This decision comes just three weeks after the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s unanimous decision to put Mariner East 1 back into operation. The PUC found that there was no threat to the integrity of the Mariner East 1 pipeline and that it was safe to resume operations. The Judge’s ruling usurps the Commission’s recent action, even though the Commission supersedes the office of administrative law judge.
Below is a statement you can attribute to me, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the GAIN Coalition. Also, you can follow us on Twitter @GAINNowAmerica.
“This activist Judge’s decision flies in the face of the extensive testing and review overseen by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission which led to the Commission’s unanimous decision to allow operations of Mariner East 1 to resume just three weeks ago. This is a shocking development that further erodes regulatory certainty in Pennsylvania and risks the loss of billions of dollars in investment for new upstream, downstream, and midstream projects. The GAIN Coalition hopes that this interim emergency order is resolved expeditiously and that operations of Mariner East 1 as well as construction in West Whiteland be allowed to continue.”