A visit to Mariner East 2 pipe­line

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - OPINION - Ash­ley Lunken­heimer, Demo­cratic can­di­date for 5th District in Congress.

To the Times: On this Earth Day, my son and I vis­ited some lo­cal res­i­dents and ac­tivists to take a tour of the Mariner East 2 pipe­line and see the very real im­pact this project has had on the land and the peo­ple of this district.

The pipe­line has forced risk on any­one liv­ing, work­ing, or study­ing along its 350 miles. Whether it’s at Glen­wood El­e­men­tary, where many par­ents are think­ing about chang­ing schools to pro­tect their chil­dren, or in the res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties where many home­own­ers have had to find al­ter­na­tive drink­ing wa­ter due to dam­aged wells. They are right­fully con­cerned about the very real risks as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing a high-pres­sure, haz­ardous liq­uids pipe­line close to their homes and schools. It has taken away prop­erty rights, de­stroyed prop­erty val­ues and caused wide­spread fear among the res­i­dents of the area.

Al­though there has been talk from both Sunoco and govern­ment of­fi­cials about the eco­nomic ben­e­fit of this project to the peo­ple of this district, there has been lit­tle dis­cus­sion of the sig­nif­i­cant cost. There is no deny­ing that jobs have been cre­ated, but this ben­e­fit does not out­weigh the loss of prop­erty value, loss of prop­erty tax rev­enue, and the var­i­ous other eco­nomic and so­cial costs as­so­ci­ated with the con­struc­tion and the op­er­a­tion of this project.

Sunoco has a record of 300 spills of haz­ardous liq­uids since 2006, more than any other pipe­line op­er­a­tor tracked by the fed­eral Pipe­line and Haz­ardous Ma­te­ri­als Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Res­i­dents of this district are un­der­stand­ably fear­ful of the po­ten­tial cat­a­strophic risks that would jeop­ar­dize the health and safety of their fam­i­lies. There are at least 40 schools lo­cated within dan­ger­ous prox­im­ity to the pipe­line and in the event of a leak, breach or ex­plo­sion there are not ad­e­quate no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tems or sat­is­fac­tory mea­sures in place to en­sure the safety of our chil­dren.

The fears caused by the Mariner East 2 pipe­line are very real and Gov. Tom Wolf should or­der an im­me­di­ate in­de­pen­dent risk as­sess­ment on its con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion in or­der to ad­e­quately un­der­stand how our com­mu­nity will be af­fected.

I sup­port lo­cal can­di­dates and ac­tivists who un­der­stand the dan­gers of the pipe­line and are will­ing to take ac­tion. I have taken the pledge to not ac­cept dona­tions from the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try, thereby avoid­ing any po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est. The safety and se­cu­rity of our res­i­dents should al­ways be our high­est pri­or­ity, and when I am elected to Congress, it will be mine. The peo­ple of Penn­syl­va­nia de­serve a govern­ment that works for them, not against them, on Earth day, and ev­ery day.

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