Once again, court upholds Sunoco Pipeline's Mariner East project

The Commonwealth Court ruled Monday that the public utility status of Sunoco Pipeline LP’s Mariner East project outweighs a Delaware County community’s zoning law that prohibits a pipeline from passing less than 75 feet from a residence.

The appeals court dismissed the appeal of six Middletown Township residents, who sought to enforce a local ordinance against Sunoco in the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The court said its ruling was consistent with its rejection in February of a lawsuit led by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network that sought to enforce a West Goshen ordinance that specifies how far a pipeline must be constructed from occupied structures.

Monday’s ruling by a full panel of Commonwealth Court judges is the latest confirmation of the far-reaching impact of Sunoco’s public utility status, which was reaffirmed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in 2014. The PUC determined that the project, which carries gas liquids such as propane from the Marcellus Shale region to a terminal in Marcus Hook, provides “significant public benefits.”