Pennsylvania fees Energy Transfer with environmental crimes

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Oct 5 (Reuters) – Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro charged Energy Transfer LP (ET.N) with 48 counts of environmental crimes for its conduct throughout building of the long-delayed Mariner East 2 pure gasoline liquids pipeline.

“There is a duty to protect our air and water, and when companies harm these vital resources through negligence — it is a crime,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Mariner East has been slowed by numerous work stoppages by state and local officials mostly related to sinkholes that developed near the pipeline or spills of drilling fluids used to bore under waterways.

Energy Transfer, which was not immediately available for comment, said recently it planned to complete all phases of the pipeline expansion by the end of 2021.

Mariner East transports liquids from the Marcellus/Utica shale in western Pennsylvania to customers in the state and elsewhere, including international exports from Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook complex near Philadelphia.

The Attorney General’s office said that in addition to repeatedly spilling thousands of gallons of drilling fluid, Energy Transfer on several occasions failed to report the spills to state environmental regulators in spite of the legal requirement to do so.

In addition, the Attorney General’s office said the drilling fluid contained unapproved additives at multiple locations that affected drinking water in wells.

“If convicted, this company will be sentenced to fines and restitution. There is no jail time for these environmental crimes, and fines are not enough,” Shapiro stated, noting his workplace was “calling for stronger laws to hold these companies accountable.”

Energy Transfer began work on the $2.5 billion Mariner East enlargement in February 2017 and initially deliberate to complete the 350-mile (563-km) pipeline within the third quarter of 2017.

Since May 2017, Pennsylvania has issued about 125 notices of violation to Mariner East, largely for drilling fluid spills, together with two in September.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

A natural gas pipeline is seen under construction in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, January 7, 2012.  REUTERS/Les Stone