The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Monday approved water-crossing and sedimentation permits for the hotly contested Mariner East 2 pipeline, which would transport natural-gas liquids across Pennsylvania to a terminal in Marcus Hook.
The permits are believed to be the final regulatory hurdle for Sunoco Logistics to begin construction of the pipeline, though environmental groups that oppose the project, including the Clean Air Council and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, are expected to appeal their approval to the Environmental Hearing Board.
DEP conducted five hearings and spent more than 20,000 hours reviewing the permit applications and responding to 29,000 comments on the project, Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. Approval was delayed last year after DEP rejected the application to address “technical deficiencies.”
Sunoco Logistics hailed the project, which it said would create an infrastructure system that is critical to the state's economic future.
"Sunoco Logistics can now begin construction throughout Pennsylvania in accordance with the permits, with estimated completion in the third quarter of this year," the company said. "Mariner East 2 will require more than 8,000 construction workers to build the pipeline and related facilities."
The Mariner East project links shale-gas producers in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to Sunoco's Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, a former refinery site on the Delaware River. The $2.5 billion project was backed by the Corbett and Wolf administrations, along with labor and business interests. But it has aroused opposition from adjacent landowners and environmental groups.
The project's first phase, using an existing underground pipeline repurposed to deliver up to 70,000 barrels of natural-gas liquids a day, is already operating.
Sunoco wants to build one or two new adjacent pipelines as part of the Mariner East II project. Altogether, the pipelines could carry up to 675,000 barrels a day.