HARRISBURG (October 17) – State Senator Andy Dinniman was joined by fellow legislators and dozens of residents from Chester and Delaware counties in calling for stronger safety measures on pipeline routes and during pipeline construction at a press conference and rally at the state Capitol today.
***Watch video of the press conference and rally here.
“We understand the economic benefits of the Marcellus Shale but they should not come at the expense of the health, safety, and well-being of our communities,” Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said. “A company does not have the right to take our land, to jeopardize our access to clean air and water, and to endanger our homes and families to make a profit.”
Dinniman was joined by state Senators John Rafferty and Daylin Leach, as well as state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, in calling for better regulation of the pipeline placement and drilling process to safeguard schools, communities, and residential neighborhoods.
Dinniman, who serves on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, unveiled a bipartisan package of bills aimed at strengthening the pipeline regulatory process to give counties, municipalities, and local communities the tools they need to better address related safety concerns.
Read full packet for pipeline legislation here.
- Senate Bill 928, legislation that requires pipeline companies to apply to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) for authorization regarding the “siting” or placement of pipelines to be constructed under safety and environmental standards. It also requires consultation with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the county’s local governing body, and the local emergency management organization coordinators in evaluating each standard.
- Senate Bill 929, legislation that allows local municipalities to levy a fee on pipelines to fund increased emergency response services and related expenses, such as training, equipment, and planning.
- Senate Bill 930, legislation that requires pipeline companies to meet with county emergency coordinators to identify and share vital information regarding a potential pipeline emergency. Currently, the PUC is prevented from disclosing this information due to security concerns.
- Senate Bill 931, legislation that calls for incorporating automatic or remote shutoff valves on pipelines in high consequence areas throughout Pennsylvania.
Rafferty said he introduced legislation (Senate Bill 604) to centralize pipeline safety inspection under PennDOT because currently there are just too many agencies involved in the regulatory process.
“Right now, it isn’t working and it’s time to catch up so we can better manage the process,” he told the crowd. “We have a responsibility as legislators to put into law legislation that will protect you, us, the companies, and the workers.”
Leach said it was high time that stronger safety precautions be put in place on pipelines.
“We need to get this done. This should have been done long ago,” he said.
Comitta said she was working on legislation in the House, similar to Dinniman’s Senate Bill 930, to allow pipeline companies and public utilities to share important public safety information with emergency management professionals.
David Mano of West Whiteland brought two samples of water from his well that were contaminated after Sunoco damaged an underground aquifer while drilling the Mainer East II pipeline over the summer.
“We’d been giving this water to our pets. We’d been using it in our organic garden” he said, displaying a jar of murky water for his home on Valley Stream Drive. “We have no idea what’s in it or what it’s been doing to us. We shouldn’t have to be living like this. We shouldn’t have to be drinking this.”
Eric Friedman discussed the potential dangers of pipelines carrying liquified natural gas products and called on Governor Wolf to halt the Mariner East pipelines until a thorough risk assessment could be completed.
Melissa DiBernardino discussed her concerns as a mother with having potentially hazardous pipelines near local schools, daycare facilities, playgrounds, parks, and neighborhoods.
After the press conference, Dinniman led the group to the governor’s reception room where they delivered a petition containing more than 4,400 signatures calling for a halt to the Mariner East pipelines until adequate safety measures are in place. In addition, several young children delivered handwritten letters to the governor in decorated shoeboxes.