WEST CHESTER >> In light of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s decision yesterday to shut down construction on the controversial Sunoco Mariner East 2 statewide, state Sen. Andy Dinniman has decided to turn up the heat on Sunoco.
Dinniman, D-19 of West Whiteland, said Thursday that the state has not, and is not, fully overseeing the safety of the pipeline process. The senator is inviting a group of citizens, civic leaders and elected officials to meet next week at his office to consider funding a study of the pipeline project with private money.
“The governor didn’t solve the problem in terms of protecting public safety, and if the state doesn’t do it we’ll perform a risk assessment ourselves,” Dinniman said.
Dinniman said that while other states regulate pipeline construction in high-density areas and consider an area’s geology, there is very little oversight in Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday the DEP indefinitely suspended work on the pipeline statewide until Sunoco complies with the terms of its permitting process.
The ruling comes in the wake of a DEP violation notice served to Sunoco concerning the company’s using the controversial horizontal directional drilling method without the proper permitting out near Harrisburg.
Dinniman also is working closely with state Sen. John Rafferty, R-44, to propose a series of pipeline bills to be considered when the Legislature returns to session in late January.
“The reason we will have the bills – more pipelines will be built and we have to have protections that do not exist in this state now,” Dinniman said.
Dinniman feels that it’s important for citizens to know who was responsible for decisions being made every step of the way in the approval process leading up to construction of Mariner East 2.
Sunoco Pipeline LP’s $2.5 billion project is expected to deliver as much as 250,000 barrels a day of ethane, butane and propane from the state Marcellus Shale regions to the former Sunoco refinery complex at Marcus Hook.
“Who made the decision to allow for such an easy process?” Dinniman asked. “It’s a little late for the DEP to start acting tough when for six months they didn’t enforce. They still haven’t taken care of adequate enforcement in our area.”
Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, insisted Thursday that the company is working with DEP to resolve the problems.
“We continue to work with the DEP to resolve all issues connected with our environmental permits and look forward to promptly returning to work on this important pipeline project,” Shields said. “Safety is our first priority: The safety of those in the community, the safety of our employees and the safety of the environment.”
Lynda Farrell is executive director of Pipeline Safety Coalition. Both she and Dinniman pointed to a group of citizens in Chester and Delaware counties that has created a united front against pipeline construction.
This shows that people have different approaches to the basic problems of this project, Farrell said.
“All worked together for a common goal with our legislators saying, ‘enough is enough.’” she said.
In Delaware and Chester counties, there are now 50,000 residents in the loop and connected to grassroots organizations, raising their voices, largely in opposition to the pipeline project. Their concerns center on safety, including the proximity to densely populated neighborhoods, schools and senior centers.
“This is just the first step,” Farrell said. “As much as this has been a long haul, it’s a stellar achievement by our citizens and legislators. This is the first step to make a real difference. When a collective community works together, things happen.”
“This is the most amazing, dedicated and organized group I’ve seen in 30 years of public service,” Dinniman said.
State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, is also meeting with stakeholders next week.
“I’m pleased that the administration is responding to the violations and safety concerns that have been raised by so many people, however, we still don’t a have a risk assessment and it’s essential that it happens,” Comitta said. “This is a step that needs to be done.”
Farrell pointed to a letter that Dinniman wrote to the governor asking him to pull the plug on pipeline construction. After that letter was posted, other legislators decided to fight pipeline construction.
Dinniman isn’t getting complacent.
“While we certainly appreciate the actions of the governor taken thus far, much needs to be done in term of public safety,” Dinniman said. “We need to go even further in terms of protecting the health and safety of residents.”
State Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, and state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9, Thursday joined the chorus of voices stressing public safety following the DEP action to suspend construction.
“From the beginning of this regulatory process, we have insisted that the job creation and energy development that come from this project must not occur at the cost of health, safety or protecting the environment,” their statement points out
“We still believe that the economic benefits can co-exist with safety and environmental protection, but this pause ordered by DEP seems necessary to ensure that this occurs. It is critical that Sunoco Pipeline L.P. follow all permit conditions.
“Pennsylvania can be a leader in natural gas development, but we must get it right. That is why we are co-sponsoring several bills to ensure pipeline safety across Pennsylvania and hold pipeline owners accountable if anything goes wrong.”
Senator McGarrigle and Senator Killion are co-sponsors of legislation that would:
• Strengthen the pipeline siting review process.
• Require pipeline operators to conduct proper studies of aquifers that may be impacted by construction.
• Make owners and operators of pipelines liable for contaminating water supplies.
• Establish notification requirements for residents impacted by pipeline construction.
• Ensure pipeline construction in densely populated regions includes automatic or remote control safety valves.
• Require pipeline companies to provide funding to support emergency responders.
• Improve communication and coordination between emergency management agencies and pipeline companies in the event of an emergency. Source
Dec 22, 2017 Daily Times Groups put pressure on Wolf to halt Mariner East 2 construction
HARRISBURG >> Six community members and two elected officials met face-to-face with Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday as they ratcheted up the pressure to halt construction of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline until a new safety assessment can be performed on the controversial project.
The residents from Delaware and Chester counties asked the governor to use his executive authority under Title 35 to immediately halt pipeline construction and operations, and to assess the risk the project poses to the safety of communities along the route.
“The residents, all members of the bicounty, bipartisan coalition Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, additionally demanded that the commonwealth mitigate that risk to vulnerable populations impacted by the hazardous, highly volatile liquid export pipeline,” reads a coalition release.
State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester, joined the residents.
The governor was presented with letters from a bipartisan group of elected officials. Urging action were U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, state Sens. Andrew Dinniman, D-19, and John Rafferty, R-44, and state Reps. Becky Corbin, R-155, Duane Milne, R-167, and Comitta.
“During the meeting, residents repeatedly stressed the urgent need to address the threat to densely populated communities, and once again handed Gov. Wolf a petition containing over 6,000 signatures asking him to protect the safety of schools,” reads the release.
J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s press secretary, released the following statement Thursday afternoon: “Gov. Wolf has met with elected officials from this area and wanted to also hear from residents. He appreciated the meeting. As we have said previously, any safety assessment would have to be conducted by the PUC and Gov. Wolf would support such an assessment being done. As the PUC is the relevant authority with safety oversight over this project, if they were to perform this evaluation we would coordinate with them on how to proceed to safely and adequately assess safety concerns with this project.”
The now-under-construction Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline will carry highly volatile liquids and snake 350 miles across from Marcellus Shale deposits in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, again repeated the company’s stance that construction is being done to the highest safety standards of the industry.
“We understand there are varying opinions on infrastructure projects such as ours, however, pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport the oil and gas products we use every day,” Shields said. “The mainline construction of ME2 is approximately 91 percent complete and our HDDs (Horizontal Directional Drilling) are approximately 62 percent complete. We look forward to completing our project in a timely manner. The safety of all pipelines is built into the strict federal regulations for the construction, operation and maintenance of transmission pipelines. Those include not just the Mariner East 2 system but the many natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines that have operated safely for decades throughout the commonwealth. It is well documented that we exceed those federal safety regulations in many areas, including pipe thickness, depth, weld testing and pipeline inspection.”
The company picked up a legal victory Thursday when the state Public Utility Commission lifted an injunction against that had halted construction in West Goshen Township.
Work had been stalled since July in a dispute between the township and company over the installation and location of a valve station.
Bibianna Dussling is a Middletown resident and co-president of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety.
“We’ve seen a rapidly growing bipartisan consensus to halt the construction and properly assess the risk of the Mariner East project,” Dussling said. “We hope the governor will take these concerns seriously and take immediate action to protect our safety.”
Caroline Hughes of East Goshen also attended the meeting.
“We expect the governor to take swift action, to use his authority to protect us, as mandated by his oath and his office,” Hughes said as leader of Goshen United for Public Safety. “Citizens are prepared to escalate our voices and demand representative action.
“We’re getting the attention of people in office that have an ability to make a change and we’re taking every opportunity to communicate the urgency of the situation.”
Comitta called on the governor to halt construction.
“I have been talking and meeting with constituents, state agency heads, township officials and Sunoco representatives regarding the Mariner East 2 project since I took office,” Comitta said. “Unfortunately, this project has experienced a record number of incidents and that is completely unacceptable.
“It’s past time to assess the safety risks so that our first responders and residents have the information they need to be safe, and it’s regrettable that this wasn’t done prior to the start of the project.”
Rebecca Britton of the Uwchlan Safety Coalition said Wolf seemed eager to learn about the group’s presentation.
She talked about Wolf’s role, and the need for him to halt construction under Title 35.
“The governor has the ability and primary responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Pennsylvania,,” Britton said.
Melissa DiBernardino said she will pull her kids form SS. Peter and Paul Elementary School if the new pipeline goes through. The planned pipeline runs less than 100 feet from several schools and a senior care center.
“While Gov. Wolf wouldn’t give an answer today, he assures us we’ll get one soon,” she said. ”I hope he sees the urgency in this. Every day he lets this continue, my children are at risk while Mariner 1 runs. Our children (and people of all ages) need a hero right now. Let’s hope he comes through within two weeks.” Source
The Times-Tribune Sept 2, 2017 Donors share wealth, skimp on transparency
In July, we wrote about attorney Larry Moran Jr.’s True Solutions Project, the nonprofit 501 (c) (4) he set up that’s politically active but doesn’t have to report its donors publicly.
True Solutions’ organizing statement lists Heritage for the Blind and Miles for Michael Cancer Support as examples of charities that it supports and Scranton’s First Friday as an example of community pursuits.
It doesn’t say anything about the political candidates True Solutions supported, but we found local politicians — mostly Democrats — who got campaign money from True Solutions. The recipients, the dates they got money and the amounts are:
■ Committee to Elect Patrick O’Malley County Commissioner, Sept. 27, 2016, $2,500.
■ Committee to Elect Tarah Toohil, Oct. 12, 2016, $50. She’s a Hazleton area state representative.
■Josh Shapiro for Pennsylvania, Oct. 13, 2016, $500. He’s state attorney general.
■Eugene DePasquale for Pennsylvania, June 24, 2016, $200, and Nov. 4, 2016, $2,000. He’s state auditor general.
■ Committee to Elect Kevin Haggerty, Nov. 4, 2016, $1,500. He’s the representative for the 112th state House district.
■Friends of Marty Flynn, Nov. 9, 2016, $1,500. He’s the representative for the 113th state House district.
■ Friends of Sid Kavulich, Nov. 12, 2016, $1,500. He’s the representative for the 114th state House district.
■ Friends of Mike Carroll for State Representative, Nov. 20, 2016, $1,500. He’s the representative for the 118th state House district.
■ Friends of Senator John Blake, Dec. 8, 2016, $1,000. He represents the 22nd district.
■ Judge Joe Cosgrove for Pennsylvania, Dec. 22, 2016, $1,000. He’s a Commonwealth Court judge who lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to a full 10-year term.
In May, Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon, a Republican, got a $12,000 campaign contribution from the Northeast Leadership Fund, a Plains Twp.-based political action committee funded mostly by Republican businessmen.
A deeper look shows that one of the biggest contributors to the fund was, drum roll please, Louis DeNaples, who donated $10,000. It’s a lot harder to prove that DeNaples gave to the fund so it could give to Scanlon.
First, the donations don’t match up. Second, DeNaples was one of seven people who gave to the fund on Oct. 14, three weeks before the presidential election that also included statewide races for attorney general and auditor general.
Four of the seven who gave that day live in Lackawanna County. The other three and their donations were John J. Lennox of Clarks Summit, director of Roamingwood Water and Sewer in Lake Ariel, $1,000; attorney Thomas P. Cummings Jr. of Dunmore, $1,000; and Gregory E. Gagorik of South Abington Twp., general manager of Toyota of Scranton, $5,000.
The leadership fund donated to eight political action committees besides Scanlon’s. Therecipients were Friends of John Rafferty, the state senator and Republican attorney general nominee, $5,000 on Nov. 4 and $6,500 on Dec. 7; the state Republican Party, $10,000 on April 14; the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, $5,000 on April 1; Friends of Lisa Baker, the Republican state senator, $5,000 on April 14; the Committee to Elect Eugene DePasquale, the auditor general, $2,500; Friends of David Parker, the Monroe County state representative, $2,000 on Oct. 18; Friends of Tarah Toohil, the Hazleton area representative, $2,000 on Oct. 18; and Friends of Tony George, Wilkes-Barre mayor, $1,000 on Oct. 18.
August 23, 2017 FOX43TV New measures countering drunk driving become effective Friday, Aug. 25
HARRISBURG, Pa. — New measures to counter drunk driving will become effective Friday, August 25.
The new legislation, which was sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, requires first-time offenders with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) higher than .10 percent to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicles, the release states. Previously, the IID was required for only second and subsequent offenders.
According to the release, first-time offenders are now allowed to drive immediately with the IID rather than wait until after serving a driver’s license suspension. Read more
July 6, 2017 WNPV Rafferty Concerned About Budget Expenditure Plan
Montgomery County State Senator John Rafferty is talking up the expense budget approved by the legislature in Harrisburg just before the deadline last week.
He says it continues to fund human service programs while increasing spending on public education. The expenditure plan is just half though because state lawmakers are more than two billion dollars short in funding it. Rafferty says legislative leaders are putting together the means to close the budget gap.
“They’re working out the details of a funding package, it doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with it. Borrowing is an option, I don’t like to do that, but it is an option to plug part of the hole.”
Rafferty also says generating more revenue by the expansion of gambling is another option for closing part of the budget deficit. Source
June 30, 2017 Public. Dinniman, Rafferty Bill for Civics Education Passes Senate Committee
HARRISBURG (June 30, 2017) – Bipartisan legislation to ensure that Pennsylvania high school students receive strong civics and American history education unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee this week. Read more