Dinniman PUC Petition art (Annette) 5-3-18
Graphic courtesy of Annette Murray

[NOTE: On May 3, the PUC voted 5-0 to allow Sunoco to restart ME1, so the discussion of filing a comment on the restart is no longer relevant. The process for setting up an account to file comments is still correct and can be used for other dockets.
Also, some people report difficulties in filing as intervenors using the process described in the second part of the blog post. I am looking into that. It may be that the simplified process described is no longer honored (although I have used it in the past). If I can get a good answer from the PUC, I will post it here.
At this point, the most important thing to do is to show up in Harrisburg on May 7 at the hearing on Senator Dinniman’s petition.]

Two important proceedings (“dockets”) are coming before the Public Utility Commission (PUC) shortly. Both have important implications for the Dragonpipe (Mariner East 2 pipeline), and you have the opportunity to influence them. This blog post will show you how.

Should Sunoco restart the ME1? First, you can comment on Sunoco’s request to resume use of the Mariner East 1. This is the old 8-inch pipeline that was shut down when it was exposed by sinkholes at Lisa Drive. Now Sunoco is claiming the problem is fixed and they want to restart immediately. The PUC will consider Sunoco’s request on Thursday (May 3), so you only have Wednesday (May 2) to make your opinion known.

Go to www.puc.state.pa.us/efiling/default.aspx and set up an account. It will tell you the page is only for testing but it has said that for months and it works fine. Once you register there, you will receive an email with a link to click to confirm your registration. Note that the information you are providing, while not immediately public, could probably be obtained by anyone through the “right to know” procedure.

Next, create a document with your comment, save it, log in to your new account, select “Existing Case” from the dropdown, enter the docket number (in this case the docket number is P-2018-3000281), enter the name of the docket (“Sunoco’s Petition to Lift the Emergency Order” is good enough), go to the next page, choose “Upload Documents” and select “Comments” from the drop-down. Upload your document by clicking on “Attach file”. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes.

What should your comment say? That’s up to you. You could tell the PUC not to allow ME1 to operate until all the ME2 construction is complete because it’s too risky to work next to an active pipeline. You could tell them to wait until the grouting to stabilize the ME1 at Lisa Drive is completely done (apparently it isn’t yet) before allowing ME1 operation.  You could tell them to wait for DEP approval of open trenching at Lisa Drive for the ME2 (which is what Sunoco is now proposing, to avoid more sinkholes). Any of these would be good comments—the important thing is to flood them with comments before Thursday’s hearing.

Support Senator Dinniman’s Petitions. A few days ago, State Senator Andy Dinniman filed two petitions with the PUC. The two documents have basically the same content. Both request that the PUC halt all construction of the Dragonpipe in West Whiteland Township, due to safety concerns. One (the “Emergency Relief Petition”, docket # P-2018-3001453) would take effect immediately, with no option for Sunoco to respond before an action. The other (the “Complaint”, docket # C-2018-3001451) would give Sunoco 20 days to reply.  In both Petitions, Dinniman argues that Sunoco has created such a mess in West Whiteland already (with the sinkholes to the south and the aquifer drained to the north) that it has demonstrated incompetence and shouldn’t be allowed to do additional work in close proximity to a highly dangerous pipeline (the ME1).

There is more detail about Dinniman’s filings in a recent blog post.

There are two things you can do to support Dinniman’s efforts: register as an intervenor, and show up at the initial hearing in Harrisburg on Monday.

How to register to be an intervenor. You can do this via the same account that you set up for your “Sunoco restart” comments, above.

First, create your two intervention documents (one for each docket). They can be identical except for the docket number and brief description.

At the very top, put “OFFICIAL PROTEST”. This is useful because it bypasses the requirement to notify other parties in the case. (There is a previous post that explains this in more detail.) Then write your letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 2nd Floor, Room-N201, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Give your name and address.

Start one letter with “I am petitioning to intervene in the matter of State Senator Dinniman’s Complaint to stop construction of the Mariner East Pipeline (PUC Docket no. C-2018-3001451).” Start the other letter with “I am petitioning to intervene in the matter of State Senator Dinniman’s Emergency Relief Petition to stop construction of the Mariner East Pipeline (PUC Docket no. P-2018-3001453).” Then state briefly why you want to intervene. Two or three sentences about why this pipeline is a bad idea is enough. Save the files.

Now, log in to your PUC account, as you did before. Go to the New Filing page again, this time specifying the first of the Dinniman dockets. Proceed to the Upload Files page, select “Petition to Intervene” from the drop-down, select the corresponding intervention letter that you just wrote, and upload it. Repeat the process for the second Dinniman docket. You’re done!

It is important to have as many of us intervening as possible. Intervening will keep you informed of all documents in the case and will preserve your right to comment and give testimony. If a lot of us register, it will show the PUC that the public is interested—and is watching.

You can go to Monday’s hearing in Harrisburg. The PUC will conduct a hearing concerning the “Emergency” Petition this Monday (May 7). It is scheduled for 9am in Courtroom 2 of the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, in Harrisburg. Again, a good turnout is an important signal of public interest.

It is important for us to stand up and be counted by doing these things if we can. Not only will the PUC be watching, but Governor Wolf will too. He is still avoiding taking a stand on the Dragonpipe, so we must keep the pressure up.