HARRISBURG (June 5, 2019) – State Senator Andy Dinniman opposed the reconfirmation of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell due to ongoing concerns regarding the public safety and environmental impacts of Sunoco/ET’s controversial Mariner East pipeline.
“I was elected to represent the people of Chester County and in our county it is plain to see that DEP has fallen woefully short in protecting them and our environment from the ongoing fallout of Mariner East. DEP has failed to protect families, their homes, our land, and our water,” Dinniman said. “In fact, DEP won’t answer our questions even as the very health and safety of our communities are at stake. I find that unconscionable. In turn, I cannot support the reconfirmation of Secretary McDonnell.”
Dinniman was one of two votes in opposition to McDonnell’s reconfirmation, which was approved by the Senate on Tuesday.
The other vote came from state Senator Tom Killion, who also represents a portion of Chester County impacted by Mariner East and has stood with Dinniman and residents in calling for a halt to the problematic project.
“I thank Senator Killion for standing with us on this issue. We understand that, at the end of the day, this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, but one of health, safety, environmental protection, and private property rights. These are bipartisan values – American values – and I encourage the rest of our legislative colleagues to embrace them as such,” Dinniman said.
Earlier this spring, Dinniman called for McDonnell’s reconfirmation to be put on hold until investigations into Sunoco/Energy Transfer’s Mariner East pipeline project are complete, including those being conducted by the Chester County District Attorney, the Pennsylvania Attorney General (at the request of the Delaware County District Attorney)
Dinniman also led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in raising a series of important questions regarding DEP’s management and oversight of the Mariner East pipeline project. They included concerns regarding DEP’s sharing of pertinent environmental information, management of public and environmental safety issues, response to impacts local water supplies and geological stability, and approval of various permits.
As of this week, Dinniman said those questions remain unanswered, even as the Mariner East project resulted dozens of “inadvertent returns” or releases of drilling fluid on and apparently under Boot Road near Route 202 in East Goshen.
“In Chester County, we’re living with the disastrous results of Mariner East on a daily basis. I wish I could say I had renewed hope for a positive working relationship with DEP to effectively address these issues, but given our past experience, that doesn’t seem likely,” Dinniman said. “So far, the fact that DEP has been either unwilling or unable to do more to protect us from Mariner East seems to be a clear sign of its lack of direction and leadership.”