The rocky path towards the completion of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline continues to take unexpected turns, causing another sinkhole in Middletown Township a few days after resuming construction. On Sept. 10, the commonwealth court overturned Senator Andy Dinniman’s emergency injunction, allowing Sunoco to continue construction on the pipeline. “We hold that Senator Dinniman lacked either legislative or personal standing to file the Complaint and petition for emergency interim relief against Sunoco, and the PUC erred in so holding,” said Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt in a decisive final statement.
Dinniman, who had filed the emergency injunction in April of 2018, expressed his disappointment with the decision. “Yesterday’s court ruling again shows just how difficult it is not only for residents but also for their elected state representatives to fight for public safety and environmental protection when a poorly planned and potentially dangerous pipeline project is thrust into our neighborhoods,” he wrote in a Facebook post on the morning of the 10th.
A representative from Sunoco and their partner company, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), expressed the corporations’ satisfaction with the court’s decision. “We are pleased that the court has remanded this matter to the PUC to dissolve the interim emergency injunction and to dismiss this complaint,” said Vicki Granado, Head of Media Relations at ETP.
While the commonwealth court did not find support for the injunction in Dinniman’s rights as a legislator or a citizen, the final statement was far from an endorsement of Sunoco’s actions. “Sunoco has made deliberate managerial decisions to proceed in what appears to be a rushed manner,” said Judge Leavitt, “in an apparent prioritization of profit over the best engineering practices.”
The injunction is not the first obstacle that Sunoco has faced in building the natural gas liquid pipeline, which would span 350 miles and 17 Pennsylvania counties before terminating in the Marcus Hook industrial district of Delaware County. Mariner East 2 has faced shutdowns, spills, leaks and sinkholes, the latest of which occurred in Delaware County only a few days after the pipeline resumed construction. The sinkhole, which appeared in Sleighton Park, a Media public recreation area, measured 15’x15’ and exposed the pipeline below. Around 70 local residents assembled near the site the following day, seeking a conversation with a Sunoco representative.
While Senator Dinniman’s injunction did not see support from the commonwealth court, the pipeline is still facing consistent resistance from protest groups across the state. Mariner East 2 is sure to face more obstacles before its projected completion in 2020.
Brendan Lordan is a third-year student majoring in English writing. BL895080@wcupa.edu