PA: Sunoco Attempting to Cut Trees for LNG Pipeline

by Elise Gerhart

stop-sunocoHuntingdon, PA – Landowners in Huntingdon County are prepared to stop Sunoco Logistics Partners from tree cutting on their land for a proposed pipeline scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Ellen and Stephen Gerhart are fighting eminent domain seizure of their property by Sunoco Logistics Partners to build a natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline called the Mariner East 2. This is the second Mariner East pipeline to stretch across Pennsylvania to supply an export terminal in the eastern part of the state where ethane is shipped overseas.

Ethane, a liquid used in plastics manufacturing, is derived from shale gas obtained using the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

An appellate court is hearing arguments regarding Sunoco Logistics’ attempt to use eminent domain for the Gerhart’s property this month, but has not enjoined the company from proceeding with tree cutting. The Huntingdon County president judge George Zanic told the landowners’ attorney that the company will arrive escorted by armed sheriff’s deputies to cut three acres of trees Tuesday morning.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to do work on our property while we’re appealing the eminent domain case,” said Ellen Gerhart. “We haven’t been compensated and they’re trying to come in without wetland and stream crossing permits. They don’t have a good mitigation plan for the inevitable damage they would do.”

The Gerharts also dispute Sunoco’s mapping of wetlands and streams on their property and have asked the PA DEP to put a stop to tree clearing for the pipeline until Sunoco secures erosion and water encroachment permits according to Chapters 102 and 105 of the state’s Clean Streams Law. For example, a temporary workspace area planned on the property, where pipeline equipment is refueled, is bisected by a stream.

Ellen Gerhart continued, “Our opposition to the project doesn’t have to do with compensation, it has to do with our rights as property owners and stewards of the environment. You would think that government officials who have sworn to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution would do so, but they’re ignoring their responsibility and allowing out-of-state companies to run over the rights of Pennsylvania citizens.”

The Gerharts have stewarded their forests since 1982 and placed it under the Forest Stewardship program over 20 years ago with a promise not to develop it –  a promise they intend to keep. They refused to accept easement or settlement offers from the company due to concerns over the impact of the pipeline on their community’s health, safety, wellbeing and property values along with concerns about the environmental impact.

The first export shipment of Marcellus Shale ethane set sail March 11th from Sunoco Logistics Partners’ Marcus Hook terminal to a petrochemical plant in Norway. The JS Ineos Intrepid, one of eight 575-foot tankers commissioned by European chemical manufacturer Ineos, was loaded with 173,000 barrels of ethane that had been delivered to Marcus Hook from western Pennsylvania through the Mariner East 1 pipeline, according to Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields.

Landowners and residents are banding together to oppose Sunoco’s massive NGL export project, claiming that it is unnecessary and does not provide domestic benefits. Sunoco Logistics Partners is a for-profit company owned by Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas.

Contact: Elise Gerhart (707) 499-3989

Contact: Ellen Gerhart (814) 599-2793

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