Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection denies public hearings for Sunoco Pipeline pumping stations despite 452 requests
Residents immediately request that the DEP reconsider the decision
For Immediate Release: March 24th, 2015
Phillip Stober, Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, 917-854-8200
Pam Bishop, Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, 717-574-6453
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) denied three public hearings for the Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 1 pipeline
pumping stations last week despite over 450 requests for each station. The pumping stations—proposed for Shirley, Toboyne, and Londonderry townships—are three of eighteen stations that would be required in order to pump natural gas liquids through the Mariner East 1 pipeline across the state. Already, residents from the three townships have requested that DEP reconsider the decision and listen to the voices of impacted communities
In a letter sent on March 9th, DEP Permitting Section Chief Tom Hanlon stated, “DEP has concluded that there is not sufficient local interest in any of the three applications to merit holding public hearings.” This is contrary to residents’ own documentation of tremendous local interest in the issue. Area residents also reported that DEP failed to adequately inform them about the public comment period for the pumping stations.
“I was present for Sunoco Logistics ‘Open House’ on the Mariner Pipeline projects. The firehall packed in a full crowd. I have yet to see such participation and engagement on a local issue,” said Betsy Conover, a resident of Londonderry Township. “The Middletown Press and Journal featured a lengthy front page article on the meeting highlighting local opposition from the surrounding area. I find it difficult to believe there was ‘insufficient interest’ unless explained by DEP’s complete failure to notify Londonderry Township residents about the comment period for the operating permit.”
According to the Clean Air Council, 452 people requested a public hearing for each of the proposed operating permits through the Council’s online system, including many residents from affected communities. In the case of Londonderry Township, 16 residents from the area directly surrounding the proposed facility requested a public hearing through the Clean Air Council’s online system. It is possible that other people may have also requested a public hearing independently of the Council.
“DEP still has the opportunity to reverse their decision and listen to impacted communities,” said Sam Koplinka-Loehr
, shale gas organizer with the Clean Air Council. “By allowing a public hearing for the pumping station in West Cornwall Township last month and now denying public hearings for these three other stations, DEP is essentially saying that they only care what some communities have to say about this project. These pumping stations, and the Mariner East 1 pipeline project as a whole, will have tremendous impacts on residents of nearby communities. All that people want is a chance to be heard
Concerned residents in Shirley, Toboyne, and Londonderry townships can contact the Department of Environmental Protection Air Quality Bureau directly to request that DEP reconsider its decision. The office is open during the week from 9 AM to 4 PM
, and available by phone at 717-705-4702
“DEP should honor the 452 public hearing requests for the proposed pumping stations in Shirley, Toboyne, and Londonderry townships. The Mariner East pipeline project will pass through the entire southern portion of the state through many communities, the unluckier of these will be subjected to the additional burden of a pumping station. DEP must improve upon its policies for public hearings to ensure that all affected communities are given an opportunity to comment regardless of man-made borders that divide them,” said Stephanie Novak with the Mountain Watershed Association.
“DEP is supposed to protect the environment we live in,” said Shannon Watson of Hershey in Conewago township. “They are supposed to be on the side of the environment and the public. So why is DEP opposed to holding public hearings? I’m very concerned about a 24/7 Flare Stack being built near my house as well as the pipeline!”
“The DEP needs to make clear its definition of ‘sufficient local interest’. What number of requests for a public hearing suffices? How does the DEP define local? Is it some number of miles? Since all fossil fuel projects contribute to climate change, doesn’t that make every pipeline project everyone’s problem? What level of interest do people need to express? Is it adequate to sign a petition or is the DEP looking for handwritten letters? This is just the latest in a long line of rejected requests by an agency which fails to understand that its mission is to serve the public it prefers to ignore,” said Karen Feridun, Founder, Berks Gas Truth.
“DEP should hold public hearings in Dauphin, Perry and Huntingdon counties on the proposed air permits for Sunoco’s pump stations and flare stacks along the Mariner East Pipeline, just as DEP granted for the proposed air permit for the Cornwall pump station and flare stack in Lebanon County,” said Pam Bishop with Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County. “We live in a ‘nonattainment area’ where air emissions already exceed national air standards. The health and safety of citizens in Central Pennsylvania are at stake. They have a right to be heard. DEP should take the time to listen.”