13 November 019
FBI has started probe into how Governor Tom Wolf’s administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline project to carry highly volatile natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania. The focus of the agents’ line of questioning indicate that they are trying to ascertain whether Wolf (in picture) and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection halted construction in early February. In a statement at the time, when a pipeline exploded in western Pennsylvania, Wolf said that Energy Transfer, the company behind the Mariner East pipelines, failed to respect the state’s laws and communities.
The Mariner East projects include the Mariner East 1, which restarted operations carrying natural gas liquids in 2014. The Mariner East 2 pipeline began operating last December, and the Mariner East 2X pipeline is expected to finish construction next year, or in 2021.
Mariner East 2 pipeline saw several sinkholes opening up along its path. According to State Impact PA, the latest sinkhole was roughly five feet by eight feet. But there were no injuries or leaks. Sinkholes and construction have contaminated streams and private water wells. Between May 2017 and November 2018, two of Energy Transfer’s pipelines in Pennsylvania and Ohio, including the Mariner East 2, racked up more than 800 state and federal violations, according to the Digital Journal.
When the Department of Environmental Protection issued the permits, environmental advocacy groups warned that it would unleash massive and irreparable damage to Pennsylvania’s environment and residents.
Drilling in the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale fields and shipping natural gas through Mariner East pipelines and Marcus Hook have helped the U.S. become the world’s leading ethane exporter.
Mariner East 1 was originally built in the 1930s to transport gasoline westward from Marcus Hook. The 300-mile pipeline was renovated to carry natural gas. APNews.com reported.