Otten calls for halt of Mariner East pipeline following Attorney General Shapiro’s filing of 48 criminal charges

EXTON, Oct. 5 -- State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, chair of the Pennsylvania House Legislative Climate Caucus and member of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has filed criminal charges against Sunoco Pipeline/Energy Transfer for environmental crimes related to the Mariner East pipeline project:

“This morning, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro came to Marsh Creek State Park to announce 48 criminal charges against Energy Transfer, the developer of the Mariner East II pipeline. The charges, most of which are for releasing industrial waste at 22 sites in 11 counties across the commonwealth, include 22 counts of prohibition of discharge of industrial waste under the Clean Streams Law; 22 counts of prohibition against other pollutions under the Clean Streams Law; two misdemeanor counts of unlawful conduct under the Clean Streams Law; and one felony count of unlawful conduct under the Clean Streams Law for willfully failing to report incidents to the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Attorney General Shapiro is sending a clear message to Energy Transfer and other pipeline operators: You cannot operate in Pennsylvania and play by your own set of rules. If you break Pennsylvania law, you will be tried in a criminal courtroom in Pennsylvania.

“Today’s announcement would not have been possible without years of community organizing and the steadfast efforts of impacted citizens across Chester County and the commonwealth. I am full of gratitude for their work and the work of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Chief Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Franz, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan and the members of the grand jury. It is gratifying and validating to hear our neighbors’ stories told and to know that we have a chance to bring them some justice. 

“These criminal and felony charges against Energy Transfer are just a first step in holding Energy Transfer accountable. If convicted, they will be sentenced to fines and restitution. It is imperative that the House and Senate work together to pass stronger legislation to address gaps in our laws, protect the health and safety of Pennsylvanians, and stop these multi-billion-dollar corporations from playing by their own set of rules. 

“Now that the attorney general and the grand jury have done their job, there should be no question: It is time for an immediate halt of the Mariner East pipeline project. I am once again calling on Governor Wolf, the DEP, and the PUC to revoke Energy Transfer’s permits to operate in Pennsylvania, hold the polluters accountable for their dangerous, negligent, and willfully unlawful actions, and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and pure water.

“These charges come 14 months after Energy Transfer’s massive spill of drilling fluid at its Mariner East 2 pipeline construction site near Marsh Creek State Park. On August 10, 2020, Sunoco reported a spill of approximately 8,000 gallons of drilling fluid, impacting Marsh Creek Lake, two tributaries and a wetland. According to the grand jury presentment, the actual number is much higher, between 21,000 to 28,000 gallons. While the wetland has been at least partially cleaned up, no remediation has begun on the lake. The drilling mud, containing undisclosed additives, remains at the bottom of the lake, and 33 acres of the 535-acre public lake remain off limits to boating, fishing and other recreation.”

Questions may be directed to Otten’s office by calling 484-200-8259.