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Photo: Loren Kerns via Flickr.

Mariner East II pipeline makes waves in PA

It looks as though North Dakota isn’t the only state affected by pipeline struggles. Similar to arguments against the Dakota Access in Iowa, the eminent domain issue continues to frustrate landowners. A Dec. 29 article by Matt Miller in Pennlive.com reported that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Cumberland County property owners fighting against Sunoco Logistics, owner of the Mariner East II natural gas transmission pipeline.

Three couples, R. Scott and Pamela Martin, Douglas and Lyndsey Fitzgerald, and Harvey and Anna Nickey, have lost against the pipeline giant in defending their land. The lower Commonwealth Court refused to hear the couples’ complaints after Judge Edward E. Guido ruled in favor of Sunoco against the property owners fighting against the use of eminent domain for the pipeline project.

The Commonwealth Court ruled that Sunoco is a “public utility corporation” that has the power to seize private land for its multi-state pipeline,” according Pennlive.

In Huntingdon County, Ellen Gerhart, was left with a jumbled mess of trees after Sunoco hired a logging company to remove trees on her property to make way for the pipeline. She, too, appealed a lower court’s decision to take a portion of her land through eminent domain. She and her daughter, Elise, are also fighting criminal charges of disorderly conduct stemming from protests against the pipeline.

But the fight against the pipeline isn’t just about eminent domain. StateImpact Pennsylvania reported on Jan. 6 that some communities in Philadelphia’s western suburbs have concerns, saying the pipeline could endanger public safety.

StateImpact reported that documents filed against Sunoco Logistics in eight townships or boroughs say residents would be “vulnerable to releases of toxic and flammable gases if there was a leak or explosion. The documents also note Sunoco’s poor safety record, with 263 spills of hazardous liquids since 2006.

Sunoco company spokesperson Jeff Shields said many layers of safety are in place to prevent a major incident, including additional safety standards in populated places.” He also noted that the pipeline will have federal regulation and emergency response plans in addition to education to first responders who might deal with any safety issue.

The $2.5 billion Mariner East II pipeline would run from western Ohio to the Marcus Hook refinery south of Philadelphia. It will carry propane, butane and ethane, not natural gas. Some propane will be delivered to local markets, says philly.com. The news organization also said Sunoco is working on plans to build a propane dehydrogenation plant in Marcus Hook to produce propylene, which is used by plastics manufacturers.

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