MWA, Clean Air Council, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network File Legal Action to Halt Mariner East 2 Drilling

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in Mariner East, Posts, Water, Yough River | 0 comments

UPDATE: All drilling operations associated with the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline have been temporarily halted as a result of the legal action of Mountain Watershed, Clean Air Council, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network! The shutdown of drilling will remain in effect until a full hearing can take place on our petition, which is scheduled for August 7 – 9, 2017.

On July 19th, 2017, Mountain Watershed, Clean Air Council, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed legal action that calls on Sunoco Pipeline L.P. to halt drilling operations associated with the construction of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipelines. The Mariner East 2 would transport natural gas liquids over 300 miles across Pennsylvania. The pipeline would cross through communities, wetlands, and our own Youghiogheny River, threatening the safety of local people and our watershed.

Above: Locations of all Sunoco Pipeline L.P.’s reported spills (orange markers) in Southwestern Pennsylvania when drilling for the Mariner East 2 pipeline (red line). Credit: Clean Air Council.

Across the state, we have already seen impacts from the drilling needed for the construction of the pipeline, with more than 61 drilling fluid spills happening from April 25, 2017 to June 17, 2017. Sunoco Pipeline L.P. reported at least 25 spills in Southwestern Pennsylvania alone, including a 20,000 gallon spill of drilling fluid near Little Sewickley Creek – a popular fishing area and tributary to the Yough. Meanwhile, DEP has admitted that the drilling operations have already jeopardized private drinking wells in Blair, Westmoreland, and Chester County. In the incident in Chester County, affected community members had to stay in hotels or rely on bottled water while Sunoco attempted to remedy the loss of their wells.

Above: Photo taken by community member of acid mine drainage leaching to the surface near Sewickley Creek, Westmoreland County after Sunoco L.P. disturbed an old coal mine when drilling for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.  

At the same time, MWA has been monitoring the Yough watershed for potential impacts from drilling. Community members have notified us that Sunoco L.P. has disturbed old coal mines, allowing acid mine drainage – water that is high in sulfur and heavy metals – to make its way to the surface. With a legacy of coal mining throughout Pennsylvania, it is likely that these unanticipated disturbances have been happening across the state with little public awareness.

As part of the legal action, MWA, CAC, and DRN are asking that the Environmental Hearing Board suspend drilling until it has had an opportunity to complete a full review of the legality of the permits for Mariner East 2. In addition to our appeal, both Republican and Democratic state legislators – including Rep. Chris Quinn (R-168), Rep. Leanna Krueger-Braneky (D-161), and Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19) – are also asking DEP to halt further construction of the pipeline in order to protect their constituents.

Stand with us as we work to ensure more communities and waterways are not impacted by further construction of the Mariner East 2 pipelines.

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