Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance
[Editor’s Note: DEP shut down the Mariner East completion construction over two minor incidents but an Environmental Hearing Board judge has overuled it!]
The state Environmental Hearing Board has overturned a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to shut down Mariner East construction at Shoen Road and Route 100 in West Whiteland Township, Chester County. Construction is permitted to resume immediately.
DEP issued its order on Aug. 20 after a discharge of water at an existing seep location while the site was undergoing legally permitted horizontal directional drilling to install pipeline for the project. The pipeline builder challenged the order over the weekend, saying the shutdown was causing “significant economic losses” and warning that an extended shutdown could cause the existing borehole to collapse.
EHB Judge Bernard Labuskes agreed, saying operations could resume immediately.
The Shoen Road incident was reported around the same time that an inadvertent return affected Marsh Creek Lake. Because inadvertent returns are not unexpected — and, in fact, addressed in state permits — the drilling mud is made up of non-toxic materials designed to keep the drill cool during horizontal directional drilling. In this case, pipeline opponents said the non-toxic drilling mud polluted drinking supplies, which was never the case, according to regulators.
The Shoen Road incident is separate from Marsh Creek, and the EHB order for Schoen Road is yet another example of courts ruling in favor of the pipeline developer in nearly every instance.
Massive infrastructure projects like Mariner East may cause disturbances, but facts matter, and in this case, the courts once again got it right. Mariner East is a legally permitted project that is regulated to the highest standards, and has been since day one. This project has been plagued by hyperbole and overreaction. It’s time to stop the delays and let workers do their job so this project can finally finish.
This post appeared first on Natural Gas Now.