The Dangerous Politicization of Pipeline Development

Mariner East OpponentsKurt Knaus

Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance

Pipeline development shouldn’t be political. Critical infrastructure is being used, though, by politicians of both parties as leverage to grow their power.

Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland has jumped on the political bandwagon with Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan in seeking an investigation of the Mariner East pipeline network — and all the media attention that comes with such an announcement.

pipeline development

Mariner East pipeline

Copeland announced her investigation in a release issued Monday night. Hogan opened his investigation in December.

The two investigations come as Copeland and Hogan, both Republicans, face re-election this year in southeastern Pennsylvania counties where voters have started to lean left and recently sent several legislative incumbents packing in the 2018 general election.

Copeland was appointed last year to fill a vacancy. Her term expires this year, and she made clear she is running to retain the seat, even as challengers line up. Hogan also faces a re-election contest in the 2019 campaign season.

These investigations have more to do with campaign publicity than with the project itself.

It is hard to deny the immense regulatory and public scrutiny this project has undergone by both the Public Utility Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection. DEP spent more than 20,000 hours on project permits and responded to 29,000 comments after a series of statewide public hearings as part of a review process that stretched more than three years.

That’s why, according to the department, the “permits are among the most stringent DEP has ever issued for this type of construction activity.” Residents and officials at every level have had ample opportunities to review and comment on this project, and the volume of responses proves they did. Decisions were based on the environment, public safety … and the law.

These investigations have nothing to do with a legally permitted pipeline project and everything to do with the politics of candidates seeking re-election. This isn’t about public safety or the environment as much as it’s about garnering as much media attention as possible on a high-profile issue during an election year. But, the record here is clear: This is a legally permitted project that underwent years of intense regulatory and public scrutiny.

Editor’s Note: It’s not just spineless demagogic Republicans, it’s also craven attention-seeking Democrats laying the groundwork for higher office, as this report from Philadelphia’s KYW-TV indicates (emphasis added):

The Delaware County district attorney and Pennsylvania’s attorney general have teamed up for an investigation involving the Mariner East Pipeline. The joint investigation is regarding allegations of criminal misconduct by several entities, including Energy Transfer LP and Sunoco Logistics partners.

“There is no question that the pipeline poses certain concerns and risks to our residents, and as District Attorney, I am working to do everything possible within my power to ensure the safety of residents. At this time, we are thoroughly reviewing the evidence available to us, working with the Attorney General’s Office, and seeking action within our jurisdictional boundaries. We want residents to know that we have heard their concerns, and we are willing to hear any new concerns that they may have about the pipeline by contacting my Office,” said Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland. “Due to the fact that the pipeline spans over 17 different counties in Pennsylvania, we sought assistance from our partners in law enforcement, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. As this remains an open and active investigation, the details available for disclosure are very limited, as is the case in any of investigation.”

The exact focus of the investigation remains unclear.

The “exact focus” is unclear? Could that be because it’s a phony investigation designed only to create headlines, elect some politicians and lay the groundwork for Josh Shapiro’s next campaign?

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