You probably already know about Sunoco’s change of plans for the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2 pipeline). Instead of drilling under the Chester County library area in Exton, they plan to use a combination of horizontal boring and open trenching, clearing trees and wetlands in the process.
But what you may not know—I confess that I didn’t, until I started reading some of the public comments on the website of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)—is that the new plan comes with a new land-grab. I went back to the engineering drawings, and sure enough: Sunoco wants to take over the library’s lawn as a temporary workspace.
If permitted, this would entail cutting down far more trees and clearing far more wetland area than the simple clearing of the right of way Sunoco originally proposed. The change is shown in the Google Earth images below. It would completely destroy one of the prettiest public spaces in Exton. The mature trees would take generations to grow back.
We must not let this happen, and I’ll suggest actions you can take to prevent it at the end of this post.
Protest Sunoco’s “public utility” status. Sunoco is able to arbitrarily seize plots of land, such as the library lawn or people’s yards, because the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has been willing to let it use eminent domain as a “public utility”. In Pennsylvania, a public utility has practically unlimited power to seize land, without due process, to use for a “public purpose”.
In Sunoco’s case, there is no public purpose. Almost all of the highly-volatile material that will flow through the Dragonpipe is destined for European petrochemical plants, where it will be turned into plastic.
The DEP is soliciting public comments on Sunoco’s plans, but you have only a 5-day window, ending Tuesday, January 23, to submit them. I urge you to make your opinion heard. The details on doing so are below.
And, in addition to submitting comments to the DEP, the Clean Air Council, the governor, and your state representatives, now I am asking you to submit them to the PUC as well. The PUC has been stubbornly silent about the way it has been allowing Sunoco to operate as a public utility.
That must change. Let the PUC know that Sunoco is NOT a public utility and that the PUC is failing in its duty to protect the public from the abuse of eminent domain.
Let the DEP and the PUC know your opinion. I’m asking a lot here, but it’s important.
Before you file a complaint with the PUC, they want you to call Sunoco with your complaint, so call Sunoco first at this number: 855.430.4491. Tell them you object to Sunoco taking land through eminent domain solely for their private profit.
Then, file a complaint with the PUC at this number: 1-800-692-7380. Tell them that Sunoco is abusing eminent domain for its private profit, and the PUC needs to revoke its status as a public utility. (There is also an on-line PUC complaint form, but it is designed for complaints by actual customers against actual utilities, so it is useless for us.)
Then email your comments to the DEP at this address:
Tell the DEP about the problems you see with this plan: the loss of trees and wetlands, the arbitrary taking of lands without due process or public input, and what that open space means to the community.
But don’t stop there. To have greatest effect, it is important to send copies of your DEP and PUC comments to several other places:
- To the Clean Air Council, who needs your comments as ammunition in its fight against the pipeline. Send copies to Kathryn Urbanowicz (email@example.com)
- To Governor Wolf, who has the power to stop this pipeline if he wants to. You can use this contact form: https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/
- Send copies of your comments to your state senator and representative too. They can help put pressure on the DEP, the PUC, and the governor.
Is anybody else having problems verbally filing a complaint with the PUC? The woman I talked to said that they only deal with consumer services issues, and referred me to their Formal Complaint Form — the 4th one on this page: http://www.puc.pa.gov/filing_resources/online_forms/complaint_online_forms.aspx
George, is this the same “online form” you referred to in your post?
I think that one is the “formal complaint” form, which looks like it might lead down a legal rabbit hole. When I called to complain a couple of months ago, the person answering the phone took my message. I looks like they aren’t doing that now. Perhaps we have overwhelmed them.
Had a similar thought when I saw that form, feels like a rabbit hole. The lady I spoke to didn’t seem to know anything about what I was asking. Had to take down my general message, ask someone else, and then call me back. Do you remember which option you selected when you called? Wonder if it has anything to do with who you talk to.
Sorry, I don’t remember.
Gotcha, no problem.