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Dinniman, Friel Otten Announce Formation of Pipeline Safety Caucus & March 19th Pipeline Rally in Harrisburg
WEST CHESTER (March 5, 2019) – State Senator Andy Dinniman, State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, fellow lawmakers, community groups, residents, and families from across Pennsylvania will hold a Rally for Pipeline Safety and Environmental Protection on Tuesday, March 19 at 10 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.
At the rally, residents will lobby for the passage of a package of comprehensive pipeline safety bills introduced by Dinniman and others in the wake of various environmental violations, public safety concerns, geologic problems, threats to private property and water rights, and other wide-ranging quality-of-life issues brought on by Sunoco/ETP’s controversial Mariner East project.
“Mariner East may have brought area residents together and opened our eyes to the lack of strong pipeline public safety and environmental protection regulations in Pennsylvania, but this is a statewide issue and one that demands real, immediate and lasting reform,” Dinniman, who serves on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee said. “Residents are coming to Harrisburg by the busload on March 19 to demand immediate relief and real action from the legislature so that no one in Pennsylvania will have to have their home and their safety held hostage by a pipeline project again.”
The rally is being coordinated by volunteers from nearly 50 organizations across the Commonwealth. Local residents interested in transportation should contact Jerry McMullen at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat on a bus scheduled to leave the Exton Square Mall early that morning.
In addition, Dinniman will announce the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral Pipeline Safety Caucus that he is forming in conjunction with Friel Otten, a fellow Chester County legislator. Following the rally, members of the caucus will hold a news conference expressing their commitment to the passage of pipeline public safety legislation.
“Energy Transfer Partners’ Mariner East project has triggered sinkholes, exploded a Pennsylvania family’s home, and destroyed personal water sources. We are negligent if we fail to act,” Friel Otten said. “The time has come for public safety, private property rights, and environmental protection to guide economic development in Pennsylvania. I am grateful for the support of our colleagues as we take the fight to protect our communities to the next level.”
Dinniman, who has long voiced safety and environmental concerns related to the Mariner East project, said the movement he helped launch several years ago has now grown into a full-fledged, statewide grassroots initiative. With rising support from both parties within the legislature and that of a number of new representatives, like Friel Otten, who were elected on the pipeline issue, he said Pennsylvania is moving closer to legislation that will provide a regulatory safeguard for our residents.
He pointed to mounting pressure on the PUC to take action on Mariner East, including a number of school districts, municipalities and counties filing as intervenors in a public safety complaint on Mariner East. And most recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection barred all future ETP pipeline permits, and the governor publicly expressed support for four of Dinniman’s pipeline safety bills.
“Change can take time. And now is the time,” Dinniman said. “We’ve worked hard and we’re gaining the numbers we need to make this happen. However, highly volatile natural gas liquids continue to flow in our area through a hodge-podge of antiquated pipelines, and Sunoco still has the power of eminent domain.”
He said that’s why he has introduced legislation calling for a two-year moratorium to give the legislature time to develop a stronger regulatory process regarding the safety of pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids, as well as a better approach to the use of corporate eminent domain by companies like Sunoco/ETP.