Groups file to intervene in Sunoco's Mariner East pipeline



Four environmental advocacy groups and two municipalities have filed to intervene in Sunoco Pipeline’s application to become a public utility corporation, a move that would allow its Mariner East pipeline meant to span Pennsylvania would be exempt from local zoning.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Pipeline Safety Coalition, the Mountain Watershed Association, the Clean Air Council filed requests with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to intervene in the case that will determine whether Sunoco will be exempt from the Pennsylvania municipalities planning code that regulates construction of a series of industrial valve control and pumping stations.

East Goshen and West Goshen townships in Chester County also filed in the case.

If the utility commission grants the requests, the groups essentially would be allowed to be active participants in the case.

The groups argue that Sunoco Pipeline, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics Partners, does not meet the legal standard for classification as a public utility corporation

“We think this is a very important issue because of the precedent it’s setting,” said Maya van Rossum, head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

The exemption would also conflict with the state Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Act 13, the sweeping Marcellus shale law that would have allowed state regulations to pre-empt local zoning, Ms. van Rossum said.

“It seems that Sunoco is attempting to do an end run and find another pathway to avoid local controls and decision making,” she said.

The Mariner East pipeline has been designed to transport ethane and propane from Houston, Pa., which is south of Pittsburgh, to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware. The proposed construction would require an exemption in 31 municipalities.

Almost 40 documents were filed by Monday's deadline either in support or in opposition to Sunoco's request to be granted public utility corporation status.

Stephanie Ritenbaugh: sritenbaugh@post-gazette.com or 412-263-4910

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