I said I wasn’t going to write any longer about Sunoco and their insidious infiltration of Chester County due to certain personalities behaving counter-intuitively, but screw it, this is important.
I might be a relative newcomer to Chester County, but I am not a stranger to fighting eminent domain. I fought eminent domain all the way to Washington DC . I was one of many people who joined the Institute for Justice and their Castle Coalition arm and fought eminent domain a few years ago. This was all when a lovely woman named Suzette Kelo was fighting to save her little pink house. Suzette Kelo took her case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
The case was Kelo vs. New London. This case captured the attention of the nation and took nasty eminent domain out of the shadows and into the full glare of public scrutiny.
Yesterday two articles came out and I thought about my original hypothesis. First an article came out I saw that said Sunoco was withdrawing their zoning thing in West Goshen.. Then an article appears about how Sunoco was just going to appeal to the Public Utility Commission.
So I sat there last night and read the articles and came back full circle to my original thought: EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PRIVATE GAIN cloaked as EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PUBLIC PURPOSE.
You see, if Sunoco can get public utility status from the Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) they can ride over the heads of any homeowner and municipality can’t they? With their public utility status comes the power of eminent domain, doesn’t it? They say power corrupts, and can we agree in this case it will indeed?
And then there is that other interesting Sunoco bit of news: a makeover in progress for the Marcus Hook refinery.
As per The Philadelphia Inquirer:
It is out with the old and in with the new at the 500-acre waterfront facility formerly known as the Sunoco Marcus Hook Refinery, now the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.
Workers last week ripped down aging petroleum-processing equipment, part of a labyrinth of machinery that has produced gasoline, diesel, and kerosene for more than a century. Other crews built cryogenic storage tanks more than 130 feet tall with three-foot-thick walls that will hold the future: new fuels from the prolific Marcellus Shale region.
Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., a pipeline company that bought the property for $60 million last year from its sister company, Sunoco Inc., is converting the site into a major center for processing and shipping natural gas liquids.
It In August, Sunoco Logistics won PUC approval setting the stage to convert its cross-state pipeline for ethane. PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson endorsed the move.
“Mariner East not only links producers with new markets, but it also represents a link between the commonwealth’s citizens, well-paying jobs, and a more independent domestic energy future,” he said.
Now Powelson may be asked to play a role in a key vote on whether Sunoco’s plans can move forward. in a key vote on whether Sunoco’s plans can move forward.
So Sunoco was previously just shipping this stuff out of Pennsylvania, right? So if they start peddling the product to residents of Pennsylvania instead of just sucking it out of people’s back yards and corn fields and forests it looks better before the the PUC, right?
Even Moveon.org has gotten involved this is getting so bad. If you live in Chester County or in Pennsylvania, have you signed their petition ? (HINT: you can find it at the bottom of this post.)
As per the Inquirer environmental groups responding thus far are the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council, the Pipeline Safety Coalition and the Mountain Watershed Association.
Now if I were Sunoco, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network alone would make me nervous. Which brings me to something I heard. Is it true that Sunoco has retained the former Philadelphia head of the D.E.P or something like that? Some guy named Michael Krancer now with Blank Rome?
A man I know and respect, the former head of the Lower Merion Conservancy Mike Weilbacher wrote about this guy last year in Main Line Media News:
Mike Weilbacher: Michael Krancer’s life after DEP Published: Wednesday, July 03, 2013
By Mike Weilbacher
For two years, Bryn Mawr’s Michael Krancer sat on arguably the hottest seat in Harrisburg during one of its hottest times. Until April 15, he was secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, charged with, among other things, pushing forward with Governor Corbett’s election promise of full-speed-ahead fracking.
And he has been unabashedly pro-fracking, writing in a November op-ed piece that the “Marcellus shale formation is the global superstar of natural gas formations and… a key driver in true American energy independence.”
The fifth high-level Corbett official to leave office at the time—another, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources chief Richard Allan was asked to leave only two weeks ago—Krancer often clashed with the state’s environmental interests, the word “controversial” attached to his name in many headlines over the last two years.
I caught up with the former secretary, looking decidedly relaxed, last week in Saxby’s, hoping to probe the last two years with him—after all, it’s not too often a neighbor gets appointed to DEP chief. My goal was to let him tell his story in his words — not argue the merits of his policies, not debate fracking, not ask him the same questions he’s been asked by thousands of other reporters, but instead to find out his current and future plans, including a possible run for Pennsylvania Governor in 2016….On fracking, the core of the controversy, I observed that few Lower Merion residents likely support the practice, Southeastern Pennsylvania being a hotbed of anti-fracking fervor. “Once people go out and see it (fracking),” he replied, “it becomes de-mystified. The drilling rig is only there temporarily, and before, during and after the process you don’t even see the rig. And when it’s done, all that’s left is a piping mechanism.
“I maintain now,” he continued, that it can and has been done safely and carefully—that’s what regulation is about. We have to be careful. Like any operation, the environmental impact has to be managed—and people who do it spend a lot of time managing the environmental impact.”
This is a big article and I found it fascinating. And if this is Sunoco’s new white knight, how does that happen? Or is the DEP not so environmentally sensitive any longer? In just 2008 the PA DEP was filing suit against Sunoco and now this to contemplate? And do you remember what that suit was about? Wasn’t it a crazy 12000-gallon gasoline spill from a ruptured pipeline in Westmoreland County, PA?
So I have to ask was Michael Krancer ever really one of the good guys? And sadly what I heard is indeed true and has been verified by the Philadelphia Inquirer which said in an article today April 30:
Sunoco also filed notice Monday with the PUC that it had retained the Blank Rome L.L.P. law firm to represent it before the PUC. The Blank Rome team is headed by Michael L. Krancer, Gov. Corbett’s former secretary of environmental protection.
(So in case you wanted another reason why no one should vote for Tom Corbett ever again, here is yet another reason, right?)
Everyone should indeed sign the MoveOn.org petition linked below. But people in general need to raise hell with Harrisburg. Our state government is a cesspool of toxic waste water and no matter what our political beliefs, we need to act now. Remember all the horrors we have heard over the years about strip mining? Can it be contemplated that will be a walk in the park if Sunoco gets their way with the PUC? After all if they are changing up lawyers and changing strategy they are hunkering down to fight by any means possible aren’t they?
Eminent domain for private gain is heinous. And eminent domain for private gain cloaked in fake public purpose is even more evil.
Sunoco is digging in Chester County. Time to bring it.
Check out websites like The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, the Institute for Justice (and they have a form you can fill out about eminent domain abuse), and locally the hot eastbootroad website, and Just The Facts Please on Facebook.
Chairman & Commissioners
Chairman Robert F. Powelson Phone: 717-787-4301
Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Phone: 717-772-0692
Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer Phone: 717-783-1763
Commissioner Gladys M. Brown Phone: 717-787-1031
Commissioner James H. Cawley Phone: 717-783-1197
The Executive Offices
Jan H. Freeman, Executive Director Phone: 717-787-1035
Director of Regulatory Affairs Phone: 717-783-8156
Lou Ann Hess, Administrative Officer Phone: 717-783-8156
Office of Communications
Bureau Director’s Office
Tom Charles, Director Phone: 717-787-9504
Lori Shumberger, Executive Secretary Phone: 717-783-9998
Jennifer Kocher, Press Secretary Phone: 717-787-5722
Community Relations Phone: 717-787-5722
Office of Administrative Law Judge
Bureau Director’s Office
Charles E. Rainey Jr., Chief Administrative Law Judge Phone: 717-787-1191
Pokim Park, Executive Secretary Phone: 717-783-9959
Kim Hafner, Legal Division Supervisor Phone: 717-705-3822
Herbert R. Nurick, Mediation Coordinator Phone: 717-783-5428
Cindy Lehman, ADR Mediator Phone: 717-783-5413
Susan Hoffner, Case Control Officer Phone: 717-787-4497
I would also say people like Duane Milne, Dan Truitt, and Andy Dinniman need to be contacted. And if no one calls you back from their offices, contact them again. Elected officials work for us, not the other way around. And again, sign the MoveOn Petition.
If you have media contacts or contacts with any other property rights or environmental groups, contact them. Use social media. Don’t be shy. This affects all of us in Pennsylvania if Sunoco has their way with the PUC, not just Chester County.