An FBI Corruption Investigation Ensnares Energy Transfer in Pennsylvania

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An FBI Corruption Investigation Ensnares Energy Transfer in Pennsylvania

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 13:13
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FBI agent wearing FBI uniform (copyright by Shutterstock / Dzelat)
FBI agent wearing FBI uniform (copyright by Shutterstock / Dzelat)

Doubts surrounding the awarding of the multibillion dollar Mariner East natural gas liquids pipeline system in Pennsylvania have given rise to an FBI corruption investigation into Dallas-based Energy Transfer.  The focus of the agents’ questions involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether Governor Thomas Wolf's administration forced the environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, according to the Associated Press.

The Mariner East pipelines are owned by Energy Transfer.  At a price tag of nearly $3 billion, it is one of the largest construction projects, if not the largest, in Pennsylvania history.

The roughly 300-mile Mariner East 1 was originally built in the 1930s to transport gasoline westward from Marcus Hook. It was renovated and, in 2014, began carrying natural gas liquids eastward to the refinery from southwestern Pennsylvania’s drilling fields.

Construction permit applications were submitted in 2015 for two wider pipelines, the 350-mile-long Mariner East 2 and 2x, designed for the same purpose, but stretching farther, through West Virginia’s northern panhandle and into Ohio.

Both were projected to be open in 2017. But Mariner East 2 began operating in late December, and Mariner East 2X could be complete in 2020. Meanwhile residents in southeastern Pennsylvania are raising the alarm about pipeline safety, fearing that their property and very lives could be in danger if one of the Mariner East pipelines were to rupture.  Sinkholes along the pipelines’ route have opened on lawns and construction has contaminated streams and private water wells.

The roughly 300-mile Mariner East 1 was originally built in the 1930s to transport gasoline westward from Marcus Hook. It was renovated and, in 2014, began carrying natural gas liquids eastward to the refinery from southwestern Pennsylvania’s drilling fields.

Federal prosecutors have declined to comment on the the FBI investigation, while environmental groups have tried to halt the pipelines' construction, warning that it would unleash massive and irreparable damage to Pennsylvania’s environment and residents.

 

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