Today (August 29, 2019) the Department of Environmental Protection reached a settlement with Sunoco for environmental violations involving the construction of the Dragonpipe (Mariner East pipeline system). The company admitted to releasing drilling fluids into rivers, streams, wetlands, and tributaries in 10 counties across Pennsylvania in 2018, and failing to properly control erosion and sedimentation at an additional five sites in 2017. In atonement, the company agreed to pay $319,461.
The press release is here.
With this settlement, the DEP has completely capitulated to Sunoco. The sum is trivial in the context of this project. Given the volumes of highly volatile liquids currently flowing through ME1 and the so-called “ME2” workaround pipeline, this fine amounts to less than the revenue Sunoco receives in a single day from its customers for the two lines. Of course it won’t change Sunoco’s behavior. If anything, it will encourage the company to cut more corners and violate more regulations.
It is this kind of behavior on the part of the DEP that makes Pennsylvania residents appalled at the DEP’s feeble attempts to protect the environment. And it is this kind of flouting of regulations on Sunoco’s part that makes residents fear for their safety. Is it no wonder that ordinary Pennsylvanians are doubtful that anyone in Harrisburg is actually looking out for their interests.