gavel 3-11-19

Katayoun Copeland, the district attorney for Delaware County, announced this evening (March 11, 2019) that her office has launched a criminal investigation “regarding allegations of criminal misconduct by Energy Transfer LP, Sunoco Logistics Partners, and related corporate entities”  jointly with the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. The announcement provides no details about what the investigation will focus on.

In her statement (published on her Facebook page), Copeland explains that “due to the fact that the pipeline spans over 17 different counties in Pennsylvania, we sought assistance from our partners in law enforcement, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.”

This involvement of the AG is in contrast to the approach taken by Chester County DA Tom Hogan, who launched a criminal investigation a few weeks ago and has now impaneled a grand jury. He seems to have decided to go it alone, without involving the state. My understanding is that involving the Attorney General is the more common approach in statewide cases, since it avoids duplication of effort and takes advantage of specialized expertise in the state office. And having the AG agree to be involved speaks to the seriousness of the inquiry.

Copeland’s statement notes that “Many residents in Delaware County have directly expressed concerns over the operations of the pipeline and made formal complaints and allegations of potential criminal misconduct. Residents have also expressed concerns regarding the potential of catastrophes and property damage.” She explicitly thanks Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety and the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety for taking the time to meet with her.

At the end of her statement, she provides a phone number for submitting complaints “regarding misconduct by the pipeline company”. It is 610-891-4700.