The following is the text of a message I emailed to Governor Wolf on September 24:

Dear Governor Wolf:

I am writing you to ask for your help in protecting the lives of Pennsylvanians.

I am sure you are well aware of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline project. This is not an ordinary pipeline. It will carry “natural gas liquids”—primarily ethane, liquefied under high pressure— right through the heart of densely-settled Philadelphia suburbs.

But you may not know that ethane is many times more explosive than natural gas; that it is invisible and odor-free; and that, if it leaks, it accumulates along the ground near the point of release, waiting for a source of ignition to set off an explosion. Ethane is not used as a fuel. It is almost exclusively a raw material for making plastic. And this ethane will not be used here: it will be shipped to Europe, since the US ethane market is already vastly oversupplied.

We who live near the route of this pipeline will not benefit from it at all, but we bear the risk in the event of a leak. You need to stop this pipeline before hundreds of people are killed by an explosion.

Here are four practical steps you can take to stop this pipeline, or at least force some consideration of its risks:

  • Hold public safety hearings about this pipeline. You bear responsibility for, among other things, the safety of our public schools.
  • Direct the Public Utility Commission to uphold its mission, which requires it to protect the public interest and to act in an environmentally sound manner. The “public” in the PUC’s name has been completely forgotten in this process.
  • Direct the Department of Environment Protection to revoke the drilling permits for this project. There have been dozens of “frac-outs” (inadvertent returns), many damaged aquifers, and 10 notices of violation just since May. Work should be stopped until Sunoco can prove the drilling can be done responsibly.
  • Direct the Attorney General to examine the many lawsuits against Sunoco’s violations of agreements and of zoning laws, and its abuse of the eminent domain statutes. Ask the Attorney General to file amicus briefs where appropriate.

I urge you to take steps now, before more pipes are put into the ground. If you do not act, you will one day have to face the loved ones of people who died because of this pipeline. What will you say to them?