On July 27, 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) settled challenges brought by several environmental groups to permits issued by DEP for the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The environmental groups appealed the issuance of the permits to the Environmental Hearing Board. These appeals at one time led to a temporary cessation of work on the pipeline, although pipeline work is now nearing completion.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline is an expansion of the existing Sunoco Mariner East pipeline system. Sunoco recently upgraded its existing Mariner East I pipeline to transport natural gas liquids from Ohio and the Pittsburgh area to its Marcus Hook Facility in Delaware County. More than 80% of the 350-mile Mariner East 2 pipeline follows the same pipeline corridor as Mariner East I. The pipeline traverses 17 counties in the southern tier of Pennsylvania, including portions of York, Cumberland, and Dauphin counties.
The settlement agreement does not directly impact work on the Mariner East 2 pipeline. It does, however, require DEP to create and to enhance policies related to pipeline permitting, increase stakeholder involvement in policy development, and provide for online access of all pipeline permit applications and related documents. The settlement also requires DEP to pay the environmental groups challenging the permits $27,500 in partial reimbursement of their attorney fees and costs.