Criminal charges against two subsidiaries of pipeline company Energy Transfer for environmental violations during the construction of two Pennsylvania pipelines have been resolved, the state attorney general’s office recently announced.
The subsidiaries, Sunoco Pipeline and ETC Northeast Pipeline, pleaded no contest to 23 criminal charges stemming from construction of the Mariner East and Revolution pipelines, admitting no wrongdoing. However, as part of the agreement, Energy Transfer will pay for independent evaluations for homeowners who believe their water supplies were impacted by the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline and pay to replace impacted private water supplies. Energy Transfer will also pay $10 million toward projects that improve water sources along the routes of the pipelines.
The attorney general’s office filed 48 charges against Energy Transfer in October over leaks of drilling fluid into waterways and water supplies and failing to report them during horizontal directional drilling operations while constructing the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The 350-mile pipeline was being built across the state by Sunoco Pipeline and now carries natural gas liquids (NGLs) such as propane, butane, and ethane from the Marcellus and Utica plays in the western part of the state to the Marcus Hook NGL hub in eastern Pennsylvania. The project crosses 17 counties in the southern part of Pennsylvania, including Washington, Allegheny, and Westmoreland.
Four months later, the office added nine more charges against Energy Transfer over the 2018 explosion of the Revolution Pipeline in Beaver County, alleging a lack of erosion controls and negligence while building a section along a steep hillside that separated during a landslide. The Revolution Pipeline, a 42.5-mile pipeline that starts in Butler County, and is routed through Beaver and Allegheny counties, connecting to a gas processing plant in Washington County.
Sunoco Pipeline pleaded no contest to 14 counts of Clean Streams violations related to the construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline. ETC Northeast Pipeline pleaded no contest to 9 counts of Clean Streams violations related to the construction of the Revolution Pipeline.
“We have a constitutional right in Pennsylvania to clean air and pure water,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is the Democratic candidate for governor.
“Today we’re upholding our oath to our constitution and holding Energy Transfer accountable for their crimes against our natural resources,” Shapiro’s statement continues.
Energy Transfer issued a statement that emphasized the company pleaded no contest to the charges and said the $10 million fund and water testing were not penalties, but the result of a “voluntary collaboration.”
“While we understand Mr. Shapiro is running for office, it remains disappointing that he would mischaracterize the facts of this voluntary agreement to his political advantage rather than acknowledge the good faith efforts of Energy Transfer to resolve this dispute,” the response states.
“Having said that, we are pleased to bring these matters to a close. It is always our priority to work in a manner that lawfully complies with all applicable rules and regulations.”