Dinniman Attempts to Use COVID-19 for Political Leverage

Mariner East OpponentsKurt Knaus

Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance

Senator Andy Dinniman has, incredibly enough, called for work on the Mariner East pipeline to stop due to the COVID-19 virus. It’s not going down well.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman is hoping COVID-19 will finally achieve what he has been unable to do: halt the construction of the legally permitted Mariner East pipeline network. He made the pitch in a letter sent to Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chair Gladys Brown.


Time and time again, courts have overruled objections and found Mariner East to be a public utility, essential to meeting the energy needs of Pennsylvania and the United States. Because the pipeline network is essential, work must continue to ensure safe and responsible development and operations.

Outside construction work like this undoubtedly can be done in a manner that abides by the proper notions of social distancing, and the pipeline builder has made clear that employees and contractors are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on all possible precautions to protect personal and public health and safety.

The governor also has declared that ‘(e)ssential services and sectors include but are not limited to … construction,’ underscoring how important this work is. Bringing operations to a standstill would cause job losses for essential high-skilled laborers and employees that would compound the deep economic concerns our state is facing.

Jim Snell, Business Manager for Steamfitters Local 420, issued the following statement in response to state Sen. Andy Dinniman’s call to halt construction of the Mariner East pipeline network because of COVID-19:

“The health and safety of our workers is paramount — always. It is part of our culture as highly skilled laborers, and it is something we take seriously at every job site, because we want all of our workers to get home safely after their shifts end. Contrary to the senator’s claim, Gov. Tom Wolf has declared ongoing construction as essential work. That means our hardworking men and women are on the frontline. Although much of our work is spread across large areas rather than confined to small spaces, enhancing social distancing practices, our workers are taking every recommended precaution. Local 420 continues to monitor the situation, relying on state and federal updates, while employing the most effective measures to protect the health and safety of our men and women and the communities where we work.”

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