West Chester Community Split Over Proposed Sunoco Pipeline

The Mariner East II Pipeline, which would run through 17 counties in southern Pa., was the subject of a public meeting last night.

Community hearings for Sunoco Logistics’ major Mariner East II Pipeline (also known as the Pennsylvania Pipeline Project) kicked off at the beginning of the month, and on Wednesday evening, about 250 people packed into the Sykes Student Union at West Chester University to speak for or against the project.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection organized the hearing and told Philadelphia magazine that 40 people signed up to present, with 2 neutral speakers, 19 speakers for the project, and 19 against.

The pipeline, designed to carry liquid fuels from the Marcellus Shale to an endpoint in Marcus Hook, is an expansion of the existing Sunoco Mariner East Pipeline and would begin in eastern Ohio and cover the entire southern stretch Pennsylvania, through 17 counties.

The pipeline has been a source of controversy since it was announced, despite strong support from labor unions. It has riled landowners throughout the state and environmental activists, who have mounted various challenges against it. It would contribute to climate change, some say.  Earlier this summer, the Commonwealth Court gave Sunoco Logistics Partners the green light to take private property for the pipeline.

One of the supporters who came out was George Morrison, a pipeline welder and union member in Philadelphia. “I’m in favor of it because it would bring work to the area, bring jobs, bring food to my table,” he said according to State Impact Pa. Morrison also stressed that the safety protocols are top-notch.

Opponents also made their presence known. Nora Nash, a nun from Philadelphia, said the pipeline was “a commercialization of our regional environment that has little to do with energy independence and more to do with corporate power and money.”

Wednesday night’s hearing is one of five that the DEP has scheduled throughout the month for the public to voice their opinions on the project, according to a statement. “We want to provide the public with several opportunities to review permit applications and provide thoughtful, critical and constructive feedback to aide in our technical review,” said DEP’s acting secretary Patrick McDonnell.

Two more public hearings will be held on Tuesday, August 16th in Harrisburg and on Thursday, August 18th in Youngwood. More information can be found here.

Additionally, people can submit comments to the DEP via email to its regional office, ra-epwwsero@pa.gov for the Philadelphia area. Comments can also be submitted via postage.