Uwchlan Eyes Action against Sunoco Pipeline

Ryan Heenan
Ryan Heenan
Published on January 12, 2018

Township voters firmly voiced their opinion at the polls in November – and what they wanted was more township action when it comes to the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline that cuts across their neighborhoods.

Two first-time, newly elected supervisors were listening and immediately took action on taking office.

Democrats Bill Miller and Mayme Baumann were sworn in at Tuesday night’s reorganization meeting. One of the first things they did was hire an environmental law firm as township solicitor.

The appointment of Curtin & Heefner LLC, of Doylestown, came on the heels of Baumann and Miller’s landslide victory in November.

For the first time in memory, the three-member township board is controlled by Democrats. The new board will also choose a replacement for Republican Milton Bozarth, who resigned Jan. 1, effective Jan. 8.

Both Miller and Baumann won with more than 60 percent of the vote in the historically Republican township.

Miller pointed to construction of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline as the deciding factor at the polls.

“(Pipeline construction) is a major issue for a significant number of residents,” Miller said. “When you look at the turn-out and margin of victory, we were given a mandate to move forward with this action.”

Sam Bernhardt of Food & Water Watch said the pipeline issue was a central campaign plank for both new supers.

Rebecca Britton is a newly elected member of the Downingtown School Board and leader of the Uwchlan Safety Coalition.

“The residents of Uwchlan Township overwhelmingly believe this project is wrong for our community,” Britton said.

Sam Rubin is an organizer for Food & Water Watch.

“The communities across Pennsylvania fighting this dangerous pipeline are looking for leaders to step up and take action – that’s exactly what’s happening in Uwchlan,” Rubin said.

Attorney Mark Freed works with Curtin & Heefner. He also represents activist Tom Casey and other individuals in West Goshen Township. The game plan is still being designed.

“We want to see what they want to do,” Freed said about the township’s input. “There’s a lot of moving parts.

“The board wants to get public input and make the process as transparent as possible.”

Just this week the state Department of Environmental Protections shut down all construction on the Mariner East 2 project statewide until Sunoco Pipeline LP can show it has rectified problems and is ready to abide by the state permitting process.

When completed, Mariner East 2 will ferry hundreds of thousands of barrels of ethane, butane and propane from the Marcellus Shale regions of the state to the former Sunoco refinery complex in Marcus Hook. In the process, the pipeline traverses about 25 miles of Chester County and another 11 miles in Delaware County.

Freed said that Uwchlan’s ordinances are similar to those of West Goshen Township.

Both townships forbid pipeline construction in residential areas and limit industrial pipeline activity to industrial areas.

Freed said the courts will decide whether the two township ordinances will force Sunoco to comply.

Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, responded Friday.

“We have worked cooperatively with more than 100 municipalities across the length of the Mariner East project, and we will continue to do so to complete this important infrastructure project that has put thousands of Pennsylvanians to work in the Delaware Valley and across the state since 2013,” Shields said.

Drew Murren, spokesperson for Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, might disagree with the new Uwchlan supers. He released the following comment Friday: “The Mariner East 2 project went through a nearly three-year, unprecedented rigorous approval process in order to attain the necessary permits for construction. During that time, the project was debated in countless forums, public meetings, and regulatory venues. The public has had countless opportunities to have their input on this critically important project that has also been found to exceed safety requirements. It is important that this project be completed without further delay so that citizens across the Commonwealth can realize the full economic potential of Pennsylvania’s vast energy resources and a legal challenge for a permitted project by Uwchlan Township is a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

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Source: Daily Local; 1/7/2018

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