Pennsylvania has always held an important role in our nation’s energy development. Ever since Col. Edwin L. Drake struck oil in Titusville in the 1850s, Pennsylvanians have seen firsthand the benefits to state and local economies from energy production, as well as the way communities and industries can partner to develop energy safely and in an environmentally responsible way.
The recent action by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to approve permits for the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project – following an unprecedented, thorough review process – is the most recent example of this legacy. It sends a clear signal that Pennsylvania once again is open for business.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline will transport 675,000 barrels of natural gas liquids, such as propane, ethane, and butane from Southwestern Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex near Philadelphia. Natural gas liquids supply heat during the winter, power homes and businesses, and, most importantly, provide a fuel source to help produce feedstock for Pennsylvania’s manufacturing and agricultural industry.
Along with the Mariner East 1 pipeline, Mariner East 2 will play a major role in repurposing the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex to help our state become the Northeast’s hub for distribution of natural gas liquids to commercial markets domestically and globally. That benefits all of us, including Southwestern Pennsylvania, where drillers need a market for their resources.
Linking the west and east with critical infrastructure will provide a huge economic boost for our community. Construction of the Mariner East pipelines is estimated to inject $4.2 billion into the Pennsylvania economy and create more than 30,000 jobs. Once operational, the project is slated to contribute nearly $150 million annually to the state economy.
For Washington County, the Mariner East 2 project signals new progress for energy production in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Without the means to transport energy to market, the development of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations will never realize their full potential. This project is a step in the right direction to support the new energy economy that benefits our communities and Mariner East 2 gives us the chance to grow even more.
Safety is of utmost concern, of course, and protection of people, property and the environment are top priorities for this project. Pennsylvania-based Sunoco Logistics has been moving products safely for 75 years and utilizes the most advanced safety technology and monitoring systems. The team behind the project has worked with all state and federal regulatory agencies to fully comply with laws and regulations to protect sensitive areas.
DEP’s own approval reinforces this point. The department has undertaken a review that is unprecedented with respect to its scope. The agency rarely has ever incorporated such a broad public comment period, holding multiple public hearings and answering just under 30,000 public comments over more than two years.
And, DEP consulted a range of experts – from biologists, wetland ecologists and engineers to legal staff and permit reviewers. This gathering of input from stakeholders and industry officials stands as a testament to both DEP’s thoroughness of review as well as Sunoco’s planning.
Mariner East 2 is an important link in the long-term economic vitality in Washington County and Southwestern Pennsylvania. DEP’s approval of the final permits enables construction to begin. The next step is to continue working together to get the project built.
Kotula is the president of Washington County Chamber of Commerce.