Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
Despite the desperate attempts by the Clean Air Council, a PA Judge will not reconsider his ruling on the building of the Mariner East 2 pipelines.
As we reported earlier this week, Sunoco Logistics Partners has begun active construction activities related to building the twin Mariner East 2 pipelines. Last week the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) gave its final approval for the project.
It didn’t take long for a coordinated attack from the enviro left–THE Delaware Riverkeeper, the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council and the Mountain Watershed Association. Their efforts failed when a judge rejected a last-minute plea to stop construction. However, Maya & Friends went back to the judge, claiming there was “new” information, and would he ‘pretty please’ reconsider?
Yesterday the judge said “no” to reconsidering. Apparently the attempt to shove a binder full of BS in front of the judge didn’t have the desired effect.
A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday rejected a request by opponents of the Mariner East 2 pipeline to reconsider his earlier denial of an order that could have halted construction of the line.
Judge Bernard Labuskes of the Environmental Hearing Board said Clean Air Council and two other environmental groups had not presented information in their request for reconsideration that he had not previously considered or would justify taking another look at their case.
The judge also denied the plaintiffs’ call for an expedited hearing on the merits of the case to be held on March 13, saying that an accelerated schedule would create a disadvantage to the pipeline’s builder, Sunoco Logistics, and the Department of Environmental Protection, which issued its final permits for the project on Feb. 13.
The parties have not reached a pre-hearing agreement on matters such as conducting discovery and producing expert reports, and imposing an expedited schedule on Sunoco and DEP would place a significant burden on them, the judge said.
“While we understand why the appellants want to move with such forthright speed, we cannot ignore the resulting prejudice to Sunoco and the Department,” the judge said.
He acknowledged that Clean Air Council has the “very legitimate concern” that waiting too long to hold a hearing on the merits could render much of their case moot while Sunoco moves forward with construction.
The company began pre-construction work such as tree clearing and drill-pad building in Delaware and Huntingdon Counties last week, and plans to accelerate that in coming weeks. Sunoco aims to start operating the $2.5 billion, 350-mile natural gas liquids line by the third quarter.
Alex Bomstein, an attorney for Clean Air Council, said after Thursday’s ruling that requests for reconsideration are very rarely granted but that he’s looking forward to arguing for an order of “supersedeas” — which would suspend construction pending a full hearing on the merits — before the EHB on March 1-3. A spokesman for Sunoco did not respond to a request for comment.
Last week, the environmental groups argued that the construction work would cause “irreparable harm,” but failed to persuade the judge to issue an order that would have temporarily halted the start of construction.
In documents supporting their request for reconsideration, the appellants argued that Sunoco did not fully disclose its construction plans at last week’s hearing.
While the company’s attorneys discussed plans for construction through March 1, its plans actually extended beyond that, adding to the harm such as deforestation that would be caused by the project, the Council said.
It argued that the judge’s earlier denial – which he did not explain — was based on an incomplete description of tree felling and horizontal directional drilling (HDD) at some sites in Huntingdon and Delaware Counties that would take place before another scheduled hearing on March 1. Sunoco said it needed to clear trees immediately in order to meet an April 1 federal deadline designed to protect the threatened Indiana bat.
Blah blah blah. Click here to read more of the blather emanating from Maya & Friends and their attempt to convince a judge to listen to their inanities.
Meanwhile, the sweet sound of Mariner East 2 chainsaws (and sweet aroma of chainsaw exhaust fumes) fills the air near Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County:
The sounds of buzzing chainsaws echoed through the hills around Raystown Lake Thursday afternoon, as contractors for Sunoco Logistics cleared trees to make way for the new Mariner East 2 project.
The 8,300 acre lake in Huntingdon County is a popular spot for swimming, boating, hiking, and mountain biking. It draws about 1.5 million visitors annually.
Kathy Criswell, of Huntingdon was walking her dog on the unseasonably warm day and remarked on all the noise.
“We come out to the lake often– either walking, on the boat,” she says. “I don’t know a ton about the pipeline, but it is disappointing to see the number of trees that had to be cut down for it.”
Sunoco began the work on Tuesday. The company has a compressed timeline to avoid restrictions around disrupting Indiana bat habitat, so the trees must be cleared by March 31. The 350 mile Mariner East 2 project will bring natural gas liquids from western Pennsylvania across 17 counties to Sunoco’s Marcus Hook plant outside Philadelphia, where they will be exported for use in the European plastics industry. The project recently received water-crossing permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The line will run under Raystown Lake, next to several other existing pipelines.
Matt Price, Executive Director of Huntington County Visitors Bureau, says he hasn’t heard many complaints about the disruptions the project could have on recreation.
“As I understand it, even the trail impacts for the Allegrippis Trail, which is world-renowned for mountain biking, will be minimized,” he says. “They’ll treat it like road construction, so they’ve have flag people. If they can’t complete the work in one day, they plan to put metal grating so bikers or hikers can over.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says work will pause in May to avoid disruptions during the summer tourism season.
“Seven Points Recreation Area will remain open to the public, and restrictions on construction or equipment operations will be dependent upon minimizing impacts to those recreating,” the Corps said in a statement. “A secondary and final construction phase will resume after Labor Day, once peak recreation season has concluded.”
Some still worry it could negatively impact tourism. Ellen Gerhart is currently in court with Sunoco over its efforts to use eminent domain to run the pipeline through her nearby property.
“There are people that come out here– this is their summer place to go,” she says. “Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Huntington County.”
Editor’s Note: The Clean Air Council and friends are all gentry class ops funded by the Haas and Heinz families that also fund StateImpactPA, the news op doing everything it can to make this a big story. It’s all one combined effort and the Haas family is also effectively in control of the Philadelphia Inquirer as well. It’s how fractivism is done; one giant political octopus controlled by two elitist families who made their wealth in manufacturing. That wealth is now being squandered by the trust-funder generations on special interest projects intended to create their own separate legacies at the expense of everyday Americans who must work for a living.
Moreover, the Clean Air Council, like so many of these special interest groups is run by one of these gentry class types; Joseph Otis Minott, Esquire, a descendant of wealth himself who has never done much of anything else, unless you count the classes he’s taught on “environmental violence.” Minot is a perfect example of the modern environmental activist, who’s motivated more by the aesthetics and the privileges of class than anything else. He doesn’t even claim to have anything of substance to offer, priding himself, rather, on his anger. Here’s, in fact, how he described himself in the Villanova School of Law Docket in 1985 (ironically alongside an article about the need for more ethical lawyers):
“Joe Minott, a Villanova graduate, was pleasantly surprised to see so many Villanova students in attendance at the public interest workshop, especially when the workshop for business law was going on at the same time. He remained suspicious, however, and said “I think some of you probably jus want to see what a public interest lawyer looks like before you join your big corporate law firm!” Joe finds public interest law rewarding because it is public interest clients who most need help. He admits it can be frustrating. It’s ironic, but when people are paying you $150 an hour they listen to you. If they don’t pay you at all, they push you do it their way. The Clean Air Council brings him in close contact with the press which he feared at first. He thought he wouldn’t have accurate, substantive answers at his fingertips when they asked questions. But he need not have feared. He said, “The press isn’t interested in substance, they want an angry public interest lawyer. And I do that very well.”
Frankly, there’s no better explanation of how fractivism operates than Minott’s. It’s all about the anger. Accuracy and substance are irrelevant. He was wrong about one thing, though. His Clean Air council doesn’t serve the needy. Rather, it serves his own gentry class; the wealthiest upper crust of Pennsylvania who pay it very big bucks indeed.