EMINENT DOMAIN ALERT CHESTER COUNTY: SUNOCO

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UPDATEyou can check out all the Sunoco filings with the Public Utility Commission by going to the PUC website and plunking in the case number which is P-2014-2411966

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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.)

The Inquirer has also published an article speaking about environmental groups intervening in Sunoco pipeline case. (And see this thing Sunoco filed the other day.)

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
Columnist

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.

And if you want to contact the PUC they have this convoluted website, but here is the equivalent of the “office directory“:

Chairman & Commissioners

Chairman Robert F. Powelson Phone: 717-787-4301
Fax: 717-783-8698
Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Phone: 717-772-0692
Fax: 717-787-5620
Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer Phone: 717-783-1763
Fax: 717-783-7986
Commissioner Gladys M. Brown Phone: 717-787-1031
Fax: 717-783-0698
Commissioner James H. Cawley Phone: 717-783-1197
Fax: 717-783-9845

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
Fax: 717-787-3417

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
Fax: 717-787-4193

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
Fax: 717-787-0481
Legal Division

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.

CLICK HERE for MoveOn.org Sunoco Petition 

 

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sleazy sunoco

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So the photo above comes from a website called Protecting our Waters. It was taken after a Philadelphia protest in December, 2013. The protest was against Sunoco and the Mariner East pipeline, so I thought it was apropos.

Of course it makes me think if the pro-military and pro- peace folks can protest all the time unmolested in front of what I assume is the old courthouse in downtown West Chester, I don’t see why these folks rising up in East and West Goshen can’t do the same thing some day soon and invite the media.

Good old fashioned peaceful protests can accomplish a lot of attention grabbing.

My recent post on Sunoco and their little project has gotten me a lot of e-mail and even comments from folks fighting this in Dauphin County.

I have learned from Chester County residents who already have the older version of the pipeline a couple of interesting things: I thought (mistakenly and incorrectly) that if Sunoco used someone’s property that they paid rent annually to the property owner. I am told they don’t. I also wondered what happened when real estate changed hands. Apparently Sunoco doesn’t pay homeowners who inherit them in their backyards anything.

So basically, letting Sunoco in is like allowing cockroaches?

I wasn’t going to do anymore posting on this until I realized where some of the pipelines are actually supposedly going: right through the back yards of people in Marydell Farms in East Goshen who have properties that run to Boot Road. Those people don’t have backyards that are THAT deep.

Which brings me to something I didn’t want to point out: shame on East Goshen Township. All the environmental and safety issues aside, how can East Goshen officials just sit on their rear ends while residents have their property rights violated and property values potentially affected?

I go back to the thing about living out here and NOT being able to have natural gas lines for residential use leaving us with other energy choices like propane, pellet stoves, coal, oil, electric heat, but we can’t have natural gas to heat or cook with YET Sunoco can crisscross our county with pipelines that only THEY profit from? Residents HERE assume the risks to health, safety, and welfare. Residents here worry about environmental effects like will what Sunoco is doing affect those on wells and could it ever affect even public water supply? How does what they are doing affect our natural waterways like streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes? How does what they do affect our wildlife?

And why is it Sunoco or other big oil companies doesn’t even seem to pay taxes on natural gas production in Pennsylvania? (Think of all the roads and schools that could get fixed as well as other things in Pennsylvania if stupid Harrisburg actually made these companies pay their way, right?)

Sunoco Pipeline plan draws political resistance Philadelphia Inquirer By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer April 5, 2014

An elaborate plan by Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to transport Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids by pipeline across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook is running into resistance.

The company’s subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., last month filed an application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to sidestep local zoning restrictions to build pump and valve control stations in 31 municipalities crossed by the pipeline.

Sunoco Pipeline argues that it is a “public utility corporation,” and that the PUC can exempt the construction of the above-ground structure from local zoning if it determines the buildings are “reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public.”….Two suburban Philadelphia state senators on Wednesday wrote to the PUC, contending that the exemptions would conflict with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in December upholding local zoning rights over oil and gas activity….Sunoco has asked the PUC for an expedited decision. Formal protests and petitions to intervene are due by April 21…..The Mariner project involves converting an existing eight-inch pipeline that carried fuel from Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania. The project requires about 45 miles of new pipeline in Western Pennsylvania. Sunoco’s efforts to acquire rights of way by eminent domain have run into resistance.

And the thing is this: this issue is way bigger than East Goshen, West Goshen, or just Chester County. This pipeline is coming from where? Ohio through to Marcus Hook? And what about the huge issue of those flare towers? Like the one they want to build in a residential neighborhood in West Goshen on Mary Jane Lane???

And then there are all those eminent domain whispers. Ugly, truly ugly.

I never thought I would say I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen, but given all the people who might be affected by this there (including friends) and in West Goshen, I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen.

The reality is those of us NOT in those municipalities are watching this, because this affects all of us potentially. And what do residents around here get as a benefit or upside? I am beginning to think not much.

I guess at the end of the day I am thinking Sunoco is just be sleazy at the expense of Chester County residents and residents all across Pennsylvania.

People should be able to say no.

West Goshen crowd boos Sunoco plan By Kendal Gapinski Daily Local Posted 4/04/2014

WEST GOSHEN – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.L.C. was granted a continuance Thursday night of its zoning hearing regarding a pump station it wants to put in at the corner of Boot Road and Route 202, much to the objection of hundreds of residents.

According to zoning board solicitor Mark Thompson, Sunoco originally appeared before the zoning hearing board three weeks ago and asked for the hearing to be continued to Thursday night. Between the last zoning hearing and Thursday, Sunoco submitted a request for continuance of the hearing. Thompson said he believed the reason for the request was to allow Sunoco time to find out answers to questions raised during the last hearing.

The project in the township, part of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline, includes the development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the zoners….The pipelines would be repurposed to deliver natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale areas in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware….Resident Chris Pielli spoke out after the decision was made, saying the board should have rejected Sunoco’s request for a continuance, forcing Sunoco to start the zoning special exception process all over again.

“Let them reapply,” Pielli said.

The board granted Sunoco’s request for continuance, and the hearing will be continued on May 1 at 7 p.m. at the township building. The board said that Sunoco will be there to provide additional testimony and witnesses for the record, as well as give others who have been made party to the hearing a chance to present their case for the record.

Residents fighting this you need to write every elected official (and I would include all the gubernatorial candidates as there is a primary coming up) you can think of and also contact multiple media outlets. Give this issue the high profile it deserves. Check out the Castle Coalition.

Chester County deserves better than this, doesn’t it?

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