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The developer of a major pipeline system linking the Marsellus Shale gas field in western Pennsylvania to an export terminal near Philadelphia opened a criminal complaint Friday after it systematically polluted hundreds of miles of waterways and residential wells. did not object.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Operating agreed to independent testing of homeowners’ water and promised to remediate the pollution in the settlement of two separate criminal cases filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General. Under the plea deal, the company will also pay him $10 million to restore watersheds and streams along the route of the Mariner East pipeline network.
A judge heard and approved the plea at a hearing in Harrisburg on Friday.
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“We are holding Energy Transfer accountable for their crimes against our natural resources,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a post-hearing press conference.
The company’s Mariner East 1, Mariner East 2 and Mariner East 2X pipelines will carry propane, ethane and butane from the Marcellus and Utica Shale gas fields to the refinery processing center and export terminal at Marcus Hook outside Philadelphia. Designed to Construction was finished in February.
Mariner East is one of the most punishing projects in state history. Owners face tens of millions of dollars in civil penalties, and state regulators have repeatedly stopped construction, citing environmental pollution.
The attorney general stepped in last October, indicting Energy Transfer for illegally discharging industrial waste at 22 sites in 11 counties and willfully failing to report the spills to state environmental regulators. The company polluted the drinking water of at least 150 households statewide, prosecutors said.
Under the plea bargain, residents who live near the pipeline and have privately owned water have the right to request independent testing. Her more than 800 residents along the pipeline route have been notified that testing is available, and residents must sign up by her August 19th.
Energy Transfer’s state permit already requires that the pipeline’s construction repair damage to the waterway and public water supplies, but prosecutors have requested an independent water test by a geologist selected by the Attorney General. He said the plea deal goes a step further by requiring the company to file on . office. Previously, Energy Transfer itself would test residents’ water in response to complaints.
The company must follow independent expert recommendations on how to remediate contaminated water. This could include treatment systems and new wells.
Another part of the plea deal requires Energy Transfer to pay $10 million to address groundwater and stream pollution.
That money is a drop in the bucket for pipeline companies whose profits are skyrocketing. Energy Transfer reported this week that its second-quarter net profit rose 90% to $1.33 billion. This was because the company’s pipelines were carrying record amounts of natural gas liquids.
Shapiro, a Democrat running for governor, has long complained that Pennsylvania’s criminal environment laws are too weak. His office said the statutory maximum for the crime Energy Transfer was charged with was only $1.45 million, and that a plea bargain would be more beneficial to the victim than taking it to court.
“This belief sticks to a landmark agreement when the federation had the most influence,” Shapiro said Friday. would have paid only his pocket money and walked away….nothing more would have been brought to make our water cleaner and safer and the residents would have been screwed…”
An email has been sent to Energy Transfer requesting comment regarding the plea bargain.
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The Pennsylvania Energy and Infrastructure Alliance, an industry group, said most of what it called Mariner East’s “construction issues” have already been addressed by state environmental regulators.
“Hopefully this puts an end to the problem, because it’s time to put an end to the past,” the group said, adding that Mariner East is operating safely.
Residents living near the pipeline and some state legislators say Mariner East should be closed entirely in view of criminal charges, but the administration of outgoing Democratic Gov. We have long ignored such calls to unplug.
Friday’s plea deal also settles another criminal case involving the Revolution Pipeline, a 42-mile pipeline near Pittsburgh that runs from Butler County to a natural gas processing plant in Washington County. In that case, prosecutors say Energy Transfer’s negligence led him to a gas explosion and fire in 2018 that destroyed a home, a barn and several cars, and collapsed six high-voltage power pylons, prompting an evacuation. claimed.
Energy Transfer did not contest the 14 criminal counts in the Mariner East case and the 9 criminal counts in the Revolution case.