March 12, 2019
Chesco, Delco lawmakers urge Wolf to halt Mariner pipeline operations
WEST CHESTER — Pennsylvania lawmakers representing 11 House and three Senatorial districts across Chester and Delaware counties have signed a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf asking him to impose a moratorium on the transmission of natural gas liquids products through the Mariner East pipeline system until the mandated protocols are in place for local responders to properly manage a pipeline emergency.
Chester County Emergency Services and local school districts along the pipeline, including Downingtown Area School District, Rose Tree Media School District and West Chester Area School District have requested Energy Transfer Partners’ subsidiary SPLP to provide its Emergency Response Plan for the Mariner East project, which the responders and school districts need to complete their comprehensive All Hazards Emergency Response Plans and fulfill their statutory requirements under Title 35 of state law.
The letter urges Wolf to preserve the health, welfare and safety of constituents who live, work and raise their families in the high-consequence areas of Chester and Delaware counties within the impact radius of Mariner East. The pipeline also runs through Berks County.
“We have pipelines currently transporting highly volatile products through our communities, and our local first responders are not able to adequately plan their emergency response or mitigate our risk because the operator has failed to cooperate with repeated requests for their Emergency Response Plan,” said state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester County. “Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco are risking a catastrophe, which is a criminal offense.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for their collaboration on this request. The bipartisan support for this moratorium underscores how important it is to take every possible step to ensure the safety of our communities and our first responders.”
The letter was signed by the following state representatives Rep. Steve Barrar, R-60 of Concord; Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester; Friel Otten, D-155 of West Whiteland; Rep. Kristine Howard, D-167; Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26; Rep. John Lawrence, R-13; Rep. Chris Quinn, R-168 of Middletown; Christina Sappey, D-158; Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-157; Rep. Dan Williams, D-74; and Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, as well as state Sens. Andy Dinniman, D-19; Katie Muth, D-44; and Tim Kearney, D-26 of Swarthmore.
Mariner East spokesmen did not return a call for comment as yet.
The company is building and operating the controversial Mariner East project, transporting volatile liquid gases across the full width of Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus Shale region to a facility in Marcus Hook.
Residents have opposed the project for years, saying the pipeline never should have been routed through densely populated neighborhoods, in close proximity to schools and senior centers.
Mariner East 1, which is a decades old smaller pipe that has been retrofitted to carry the new materials, has been shut down for weeks since a sinkhole formed in a Chester County neighborhood for the second time.
Mariner East 2 came online the last week of December, albeit not in the form Energy Transfer originally proposed. Mariner East 2 was proposed as a 20-inch pipe, but because of constant delays and other problems, Energy Transfer plugged in a hybrid version of several smaller pipes to fill in the gaps. Completion of the full Mariner East 2 pipeline now likely will not take place until 2020.
Mariner East 2x remains under construction.
In February the state Department of Environmental Protection halted all permits for the Mariner East 2 project, saying Energy Transfer had failed to take proper actions after an accident that caused an explosion in western Pennsylvania.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan last month announced he was launching a criminal investigation into the construction of Mariner East 2, noting his belief that state officials had not adequately protected citizens rights and safety. He now is impaneling an investigative grand jury to hear testimony from witnesses and review documents.
March 6, 2019
Local lawmakers announce formation of pipeline safety caucus
WEST CHESTER—State Senator Andy Dinniman, State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, fellow lawmakers, community groups, residents, and families from across Pennsylvania will hold a Rally for Pipeline Safety and Environmental Protection on Tuesday, March 19 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.
At the rally, residents will lobby for the passage of a package of comprehensive pipeline safety bills introduced by Dinniman and others in the wake of various environmental violations, public safety concerns, geologic problems, threats to private property and water rights, and other wide-ranging quality-of-life issues brought on by Sunoco/ETP’s controversial Mariner East project.
“Mariner East may have brought area residents together and opened our eyes to the lack of strong pipeline public safety and environmental protection regulations in Pennsylvania, but this is a statewide issue and one that demands real, immediate and lasting reform,” Dinniman, who serves on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee said.
“Residents are coming to Harrisburg by the busload on March 19 to demand immediate relief and real action from the legislature so that no one in Pennsylvania will have to have their home and their safety held hostage by a pipeline project again.
The rally is being coordinated by volunteers from nearly 50 organizations across the Commonwealth. Local residents interested in transportation should contact Jerry McMullen at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat on a bus scheduled to leave the Exton Square Mall early that morning.
In addition, Dinniman will announce the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral Pipeline Safety Caucus that he is forming in conjunction with Friel Otten, a fellow Chester County legislator. Following the rally, members of the caucus will hold a news conference expressing their commitment to the passage of pipeline public safety legislation.
“Energy Transfer Partners’ Mariner East project has triggered sinkholes, exploded a Pennsylvania family’s home, and destroyed personal water sources. We are negligent if we fail to act,” Friel Otten said. “The time has come for public safety, private property rights, and environmental protection to guide economic development in Pennsylvania. I am grateful for the support of our colleagues as we take the fight to protect our communities to the next level.”
Dinniman, who has long voiced safety and environmental concerns related to the Mariner East project, said the movement he helped launch several years ago has now grown into a full-fledged, statewide grassroots initiative. With rising support from both parties within the legislature and that of a number of new representatives, like Friel Otten, who were elected on the pipeline issue, he said Pennsylvania is moving closer to legislation that will provide a regulatory safeguard for our residents.
He pointed to mounting pressure on the PUC to take action on Mariner East, including a number of school districts, municipalities and counties filing as intervenors in a public safety complaint on Mariner East. And most recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection barred all future ETP pipeline permits, and the governor publicly expressed support for four of Dinniman’s pipeline safety bills.
“Change can take time. And now is the time,” Dinniman said. “We’ve worked hard and we’re gaining the numbers we need to make this happen. However, highly volatile natural gas liquids continue to flow in our area through a hodge-podge of antiquated pipelines, and Sunoco still has the power of eminent domain.”
He said that’s why he has introduced legislation calling for a two-year moratorium to give the legislature time to develop a stronger regulatory process regarding the safety of pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids, as well as a better approach to the use of corporate eminent domain by companies like Sunoco/ETP. Source
February 8, 2019
Legislators respond to DEP decision to suspend review of Energy Transfer permits
HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Reps. Carolyn Comitta, Danielle Friel Otten, Kristine Howard, Leanne Krueger, Christina Sappey and Melissa Shusterman met with Gov. Tom Wolf and his staff last week to address the growing problems with Energy Transfer’s Mariner East project.
Today, those representatives have issued the following statement regarding news that the Department of Environmental Protection has suspended review of permit applications and other pending approvals for Energy Transfer due to noncompliance:
“We applaud the unwavering efforts of community members who continue to make their voices heard and draw attention to serious hazards and areas of oversight that need improvement.
“The action taken by the Department of Environmental Protection today is a step in the right direction.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to have a seat at the table for our communities and we look forward to continued collaboration with our state agencies and the governor’s staff to put the interests of the people of Pennsylvania first and foremost. There is still a lot of work to be done and we will use every tool available to us to make our community’s voice heard.”
The same six representatives sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission earlier this week, urging action related to a recent sinkhole along the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The letter can be found here. Source
January 29, 2019
Today I stand with my colleagues and CeaseFirePA activists across Pennsylvania as we recommit to continuing the fight for common sense gun safety legislation.
January 29, 2019
Friel-Otten appointed to House committees, including Environmental Resources and Energy Committee
HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – State Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten announced today that she was appointed to serve on several standing House committees, including the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
Friel-Otten was also appointed to the Children and Youth, Aging and Older Adult Services, and Tourism and Recreational Development committees.
“These committee assignments give me the chance to work on issues that matter in our community,” said Friel-Otten, D-Chester. “I’m especially eager to join the Environmental Resources committee, as our community deals with the environmental and safety impacts of pipeline construction through our back yards. I look forward to representing our community’s interests as an active member of these committees.”
The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee works with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to establish regulations on environmental issues, including air and water quality, and has oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies.
The Tourism and Recreational Development Committee oversees legislation related to the state’s tourism industry and has jurisdiction over the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The Children and Youth Committee reviews bills that affect Pennsylvania’s youngest residents and bills related the Office of Child Development and Learning and the Office of Children Youth and Families, under the Department of Human Services.
The Aging and Older Adult Services Committee works with the Department of Aging and reviews bills that affect senior citizens in Pennsylvania. Source
January 11, 2019
Rep Danielle Otten visits Exelon
This week, I had the pleasure of joining some of my colleagues on a tour of Exelon’s #limerickgeneratingstation to learn about our nuclear energy fleet in Pennsylvania and the state of Nuclear as we move forward. 30%of Pennsylvania’s energy comes from nuclear energy and it makes up 94% of carbon free energy production in the state.
I had a lot of walk away thoughts, but the greatest of those thoughts was the observation of the care and responsibility for personnel and publicsafety at every step of the tour. From employee name badges with photos of “why I work safe” featuring children and grandchildren to safety focused posters and communications throughout the plant, to standard operating procedures that were somewhat military in discipline and a facility that was so clean you could eat off of the floor. It was evident that there was an extreme understanding that the lives of 300,000 people are in their hands. A much different experience than what I have seen from energy operators in my own backyard.
Did you know that in Pennsylvania you can choose the company that generates your energy? Check out PA Power Switch: https://bit.ly/2RFYnuo
October 19, 2018
Danielle Friel Otten
The Polls Say It’s A Dead Heat
We had a polling call the other day, and based on recent data, the race among likely voters is a dead heat: 49 – 49. Becky Corbin must have gotten the same memo, because she has turned up the heat. They are in the mail and on TV with nasty attack ads, false claims about dark money, and spin on Becky’s lackluster record.
The one place she can’t compete is in the field with the tireless work that’s been done over months and months by our dedicated volunteers, stakeholders in this change, who have made over 60,000 (yes, you read that right SIXTY THOUSAND) attempts to have one-on-one conversations with voters about what’s at stake in this election. With tens of thousands of conversations under our belt, we are leaving NOTHING on the sidelines. We have a robust operation planned for the next 18 days, and we will be talking to and turning out voters until 8 PM on Tuesday, November 6th — we won’t stop one minute sooner. Read more
October 10, 2018
Democratic candidates discuss issues at public forum
WEST GOSHEN — Christina Sappey, a candidate running for state representative for the 158th Legislative District, waited until the very end of the program to emphatically state what all five candidates at a forum had voiced earlier, to a lesser degree.
“Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote,” Sappey, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Rep. Eric Roe, implored an audience of 150, at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, Monday night.
The forum was organized and run by the Chester County League of Women Voters and the West Chester Chapter of the NAACP.
During the 2½-hour forum, five Democratic candidates, all of whom are women, answered questions posed by the audience and event organizers about topics including, health care, water quality, literacy, business taxes and incarceration.
All the candidates in the county were invited. There will be a similar forum with different speakers at St. Paul’s, on Monday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Democratic state Rep. Carolyn Comitta is running against Republican Nick Deminski in the 156th District, and told the attentive audience to vote for people who share their values.
“Your state representative is your last stop from protecting all the people,” Comitta said. “Elect someone who gets it.
“Your vote is your voice.”
Kristine Howard is a Democrat running in the 167th District against incumbent Republican Rep. Duane Milne.
“We need to elect the right legislators,” she said, “We need to take back our power from some extremists.
“This is a really important election.”
Democrat Danielle Friel Otten is facing off against Republican Rep. Becky Corbin in the 155th District.
“Educate yourself about who is on the ballot, vote, and talk to your neighbors,” Friel Otten said.
Sappey said that it all depends on who the public votes for.
“It’s time for us to start electing people who are going to work together,” Sappey said.
Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is facing off against Republican Greg McCauley to fill the seat vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello in what she said is the “new and improved” 6th Congressional District, referencing a state Supreme Court decision to draw new congressional districts after finding the state’s previous congressional map violated the state constitution due to partisan gerrymandering that favored Republicans over Democrats.
The business owner, MIT graduate, former teacher and veteran, listed health care, decent jobs, a great education and a safe planet as her priorities.
The candidates were asked about “reaching across the aisle.”
Friel Otten suggested that more women should be elected and that politics is not just a Democratic or Republican issue.
“We have the opportunity to look each other in the eye,” she said.
Said Comitta: “It’s all your perspective. It’s about being in this role for the right reason.”
Sappey was a stay-at-home mom and said becoming a state rep is not her dream job.
“You have to enter every conversation knowing that you have to give something up,” she said.
The candidates were asked about incarceration. Howard talked about “super long” prison sentences.
“We had more juvenile lifers than any other state,” Howard said. “We have a very, very harsh justice system in this state and prosecutors hold all the cards.”
The group of candidates talked about supporting small businesses.
Friel Otten said that when manufacturing goes overseas, people on “Main Street” can no longer exist.
“The burden of taxes is on the small business owner,” Friel Otten said. “Close the loopholes (for big businesses) and take the pressure off of small businesses.”
Sappey is a proponent of businesses.
“We need to make it more attractive for businesses to come to Pennsylvania,” Sappey said.
Comitta said that when you buy local, you make an investment in the community.
“For every dollar you spend in a local business, 68 cents goes back into the community,” Comitta said.
Education was also discussed.
“Our municipal government is in a position to choose between the youngest and oldest residents and that is a crime,” Friel Otten said.
Howard favors fair funding for schools.
“We know this is the right thing to do, we have the wrong people,” Howard said.
When asked about the natural gas boom and enacting an extraction tax, Comitta said Pennsylvania is “sitting on a gold mine.
“I’m not against people making a lot of money, but it needs to be done safely and cleanly and (any proposed tax) should be used for kids in schools.”
While Howard said the liquid gases need to be taxed, Friel Otten said that several alternatives should be addressed, such as, creation of siting agencies, oversight of out-of-state companies, and taking any new tax revenue to build renewable energy alternatives.
Sappey reiterated the need to vote for reps supporting the Affordable Care Act.
“Make sure we vote for people who understand how important this issue is — the costs are through the roof,” Sappey said.
St. Paul’s Pastor Wayne E. Croft Sr. welcomed the guests and said he was pleased that the NAACP and League of Women Voters had crafted a platform enabling voters to make informed decisions.
Cassandra Jones, NAACP chair for political action committee, said that the audience was pleased to ask questions, face-to-face.
Pamela Gray, president of the Chester County League of Women Voters appreciated the “very engaged candidates” and the turnout of prospective voters. Source
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