Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has lifted a suspension it had placed on the construction of the Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 2 pipeline project.
The project’s permit was suspended and Sunoco was issued a $12.6 million penalty on Jan. 3 for violating performance obligations outlined by the DEP. The paid penalty, which, according to the DEP’s press release, is one of the largest civil penalties ever collected in a single settlement, will go to the Clean Water Fund and the Dams and Encroachments Fund.
Construction was able to resume after Sunoco submitted all relevant materials to the DEP to prove the project met all the requirements to fulfill law and permit conditions. Sunoco also entered into a consent order and agreement with DEP.
“Our action to suspend the permits associated with this project, and the collection of this penalty, are indicative of the strict oversight that DEP has consistently exercised over this project. Today’s announcement is by no means the end of DEP’s oversight,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits.”
The pipeline is important for carrying natural gas within the Keystone State and exporting it to the northeast region of the U.S., where natural gas demand is high but supply has been constrained.
The DEP’s decision to lift suspension of construction for ME2 can set an important precedent for other states to relieve their regulations on pipeline construction in the future to allow for easier and more cost-efficient movement of natural energy.
Grow America’s Infrastructure Now released a statement outlining why the suspension lift is good for America’s energy infrastructure as well as jobs and economic growth in Pennsylvania.
“Once completed, the ME2 pipeline will allow more of Pennsylvania’s energy to be developed paying dividends in Western Pennsylvania, while also leading to the creation of hundreds of permanent jobs in the Marcus Hook region, revitalizing that community in the Southeast,” GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens said in the statement.
“In short, completing this project will be a big step in securing Pennsylvania’s economic future and our nation’s energy security.”
However, DEP says they will still be keeping a close eye over the construction of ME2.
“DEP will continue to monitor and enforce the conditions of the permits, and will take necessary enforcement actions for any future violations,” McDonnell said.