WEST CHESTER (April 25, 2019) – The reconfirmation of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary (DEP) Patrick McDonnell should be put on hold until investigations into Sunoco/Energy Transfer’s Mariner East pipeline project are complete, state Senator Andy Dinniman and others said today.

In a memo to state Senators Gene Yaw and John Yudichak, the majority and minority chairs of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee respectively, Dinniman, along with state Senators Daylin Leach, Katie Muth, Tom Killion, and Tim Kearney, called for the hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 to be postponed.

“Due to the serious nature of these concerns, we feel strongly that there should not be any consideration or reconfirmation vote in committee or on the floor until these concerns are fully addressed and publicly disclosed,” they wrote. “In our view, it would be very improper to proceed with any vote until these questions are answered in full and each of these investigations are complete.”

Specifically, the memo cited the multiple criminal and ethical investigations currently underway in the problematic and controversial Mariner East pipeline project, including those being conducted by the Chester County District Attorney, the Pennsylvania Attorney General (at the request of the Delaware County District Attorney) and the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission. In fact, according to reports, a grand jury has been empaneled in West Chester to review concerns for legal action.

In addition, Dinniman, Leach, Muth and Killion raised a series of ten questions to McDonnell related to DEP’s management and oversight of the Mariner East pipeline project that they asked to have answered in detail prior to consideration of his reappointment. 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.

“Given the ongoing investigations into the Mariner East project – investigations that cite state regulators, it is only prudent and proper for any consideration or reconfirmation vote to be put hold until these concerns are fully addressed and publicly disclosed,” Dinniman said. “I hope the committee chairs and legislative leaders agree, but even if the confirmation vote goes forward, we have very important questions that need to be answered.”  

Dinniman also noted that just today a sinkhole opened up along the Mariner East pipeline route in Delaware County, according to news reports.

Dinniman said his concerns about the Mariner East pipeline project’s ongoing impacts to environmental protection, public safety and the overall quality of life in his district are ongoing and were further raised by recent troubling news reports concerning DEP involvement with and close ties to the project.

“At the end of the day, it’s a matter of transparency. It’s a matter of the truth. We need to know more, and the public deserves to know more,” he said.