The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania last week ordered the public release of emails between Energy Transfer LP, which is expanding the Mariner East (ME) natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline system, and officials in a county township.

Energy Transfer

Since 2016 ME has carried increasing NGL volumes from processing facilities in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays eastward to Energy Transfer’s Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, an NGL hub on the Delaware River near Philadelphia. The pipeline system, which traverses Pennsylvania and extends into Ohio and West Virginia, will be able to move 280,000-300,000 b/d of LPG and 70,000 b/d of ethane eastward by the end of this year, according to a Sept. 2021 investor presentation on Energy Transfer’s website. The pipeline project has faced numerous regulatory, legal and construction setbacks.

The recent Delaware County court order corresponds to a request under Pennsylvania’s right-to-know law for emails between Energy Transfer/Sunoco LP and officials with Middletown Township. In late May a water main break that occurred during ME construction left residents of the Glen Riddle Station Apartments without water. 

The incident also prompted subsequent questions from the apartment complex owner about whether the water was safe to drink after service was restored. The township had claimed it was exempt from releasing the emails in question, but the court earlier this month ruled otherwise.

“From Day One, we believed the public had a right to know what discussions and agreements took place between Energy Transfer/Sunoco and Middletown Township,” said Glen Riddle Station owner spokesperson Stephen Iacobucci. The township’s council for some reason he said, “didn’t want the public to know about these dealings. We thank the court for agreeing with us, and we look forward to examining exactly what happened to allow Sunoco to do what it has done to our community. 

“It is our hope that Middletown Township won’t waste more taxpayer money with a frivolous appeal of this sound decision and allows the public its rightful opportunity to examine what are clearly public documents.”

The Glen Riddle Station owner also urged Energy Transfer/Sunoco to refrain from working on ME until a criminal case lodged against it by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is resolved. Shapiro, a Democrat who this month declared his candidacy in the 2022 governor’s race, in early October unveiled a 69-page grand jury report outlining instances of drinking water contamination at 22 sites in 11 counties — including Glen Riddle Station.

“It’s time for Middletown Township to be transparent with our community, and for Energy Transfer to finally do the right thing and cease all operations until these very serious criminal charges are adjudicated,” said Iacobucci. “Our residents have been unfairly treated and continue to be at risk.”