FBI eyes how Pennsylvania approved pipeline

Kim Glovas
November 12, 2019 - 4:14 pm
Construction for the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline.

Jeremy Long/Lebanon Daily News via USA Today Network

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The FBI is investigating how Gov. Tom Wolf's administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline to carry natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania, The Associated Press has learned.

FBI agents have interviewed current or former state employees in recent weeks about the Mariner East pipelines, according to three people who spoke on condition of anonymity. Wolf's administration has said in the past that the permits contained strong environmental protections.

Critics of the Mariner East Pipeline are hoping news of this investigation will bear some fruit. 

Eric Friedman, a member of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, which opposes the Mariner East pipeline, believes this is just a natural progression.

"Last December, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan opened an investigation into whether Sunoco was a corrupt organization. It's apparent that the permits issued, not only by Tom Wolf's DEP, but also across Pennsylvania, don't comply with the applicable requirements. So I welcome this investigation into who was influenced and why," Friedman said. 

Friedman says he believes the FBI will find out whether or not the DEP followed statutory requirements for Pennsylvania. He also says that may be why the DEP has hired criminal counsel. 

Friedman adds there are many miles and many messes across Delaware and Chester counties because of Sunoco's Mariner East project. 

State Sen. Andy Dinniman, who represents the area around the pipeline, has issued a statement saying from the beginning and many times along the way, opponents have asked serious questions about the permitting process and he hopes this investigation sheds light on those questions.

The FBI says it cannot confirm or deny that an investigation is underway.

An Energy Transfer spokeswoman said the company had not been contacted by the FBI about the Mariner East.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 
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