Pipeline opponents: Wolf more friendly to energy industry than environment

Kim Glovas
January 27, 2019 - 4:00 am
Gov. Tom Wolf

The Office of Governor Tom Wolf via Flickr

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently claimed his first term marked a major shift to protect Pennsylvania's environment and energy resources. But those living along the Mariner East Pipelines are finding that energy seems to have outranked environment. 

Ginny Kerslake is one of the founding members of Del-Chesco United, a group opposing the troubled pipeline because of serious environmental concerns. Kerslake says two days after releasing the statement claiming his environmental support, Wolf was on sister station KDKA in Pittsburgh saying Pennsylvania needed a fracking pipeline network, or else those resources would be exported to southern states. 

"One the one hand to come out as a champion of the climate, and then champion of the fracking industry," Kerslake said, "you really can't be both those things."

She says Mariner East has been nothing but trouble all across the state. 

"Our voices are being silenced in Harrisburg by the oil and gas industry. They have put millions in to campaigns and lobbying. The figures being thrown around for Mariner East alone, they've put in 12 or 14 million," Kerslake said.

A spokesman for the governor says Wolf is taking a balanced approach to protecting the environment while allowing for economic growth.

A day after that comment, The Public Utility Commission shut down ME 1 for the second time in a year, after more sinkholes developed. The line is being purged from Berks County to Marcus Hook to allow ground testing. 

Chester and Delaware counties have soil rich in limestone, which opponents have claimed for years is unsuitable for the pipeline project. But Governor Wolf said in early January that the state needed a pipeline for a healthy gas industry. Ginny Kerslake is one of the founders of Del-Chesco United, fighting the pipeline because of safety issues.  

"We're definitely not benefiting from these pipelines. We know that clearly because of Mariner East. We're not even benefiting from what's going through these pipelines because they are all being exported overseas."

Since construction began on the pipeline, water has been contaminated, questions to the state about safety plans have gone unanswered, and now Chester County has begun a criminal investigation into the project. A state lawmaker is calling on the state attorney general and auditor general to investigate that and the actions of the Public Utility Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection. 

In a written statement, a spokesman says Gov. Wolf has met with residents about the project and relayed their concerns to Sunoco and the PUC. Residents say Wolf met with them once in December 2017, and that meeting was unsatisfactory.