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Move ahead on Mariner East 2

| Friday, March 10, 2017, 8:57 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Dave Hough of North Huntingdon shows his support for Sunoco's proposed Mariner East 2 pipeline project during a public hearing last August conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection at Westmoreland County Community College (Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection took an important step toward securing the future of our state's energy independence with its approval for the development of the Mariner East 2 pipeline — an energy-infrastructure project vital to the sustainment and growth of Pennsylvania's economy.

The approval process for this venture took 2½ years to complete, encompassing an unprecedented amount of outreach and stakeholder input. The DEP conducted five public hearings and received more than 29,000 public comments. Its review included feedback from DEP biologists, wetland ecologists, engineers, legal staff and permit reviewers. As a result, the approval ensures that construction and operation of Mariner East 2 will be safe and efficient, and will result in minimal impacts to local communities.

Now, Sunoco Logistics begins the next phase of developing the pipeline, which includes hiring 7,000 workers. Sunoco has approached the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 to help meet this goal, realizing that our members are some of the best trained, highest skilled workers in the industry.

Since 1896, the Operating Engineers have fought for the rights of our workers to earn a fair wage in a safe work environment. Over the years we have contributed to hundreds, if not thousands, of projects across the U.S. — always with immeasurable care and consideration for the local community and environment. Our state-of-the-art training and apprenticeship programs have molded our nearly 400,000 members into some of the best equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors available today.

Like Local 66, officials at Sunoco Logistics are equally committed to the development of a safe and reliable finished product, and will use “smart inspection technology” to search every inch of the pipeline for cracks, leaks and other structural compromises.

Such measures ensure that pipelines remain the safest means of energy transportation available, as they already enjoy a 99 percent success rate. In the last decade alone, nearly 77,000 miles of pipeline have been built, with pipeline incidents and spills decreasing by nearly 50 percent in the same time frame.

The United States now has over 2.5 million miles of buried pipeline infrastructure in use, safely transporting energy products each and every day.

However, Local 66 realizes that the Mariner East 2 pipeline isn't just another infrastructure project — it will act as a monumental energizer to the state's economy by repurposing the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Once complete, it will transport 345,000 barrels of propane, butane and other natural gas products each day to Marcus Hook, where they will be processed, stored and distributed to market. As a result, the United States will become more energy independent, allowing us to keep jobs and investment funds here and fueling our economy to levels previously believed unobtainable.

Mariner East 2 is a made-in-America project, constructed with local workers, utilizing local contractors, and made with 100 percent American-made steel. The workers of the Operating Engineers Local 66 are proud to help make this project a reality and we stand ready to begin work.

Jim Kunz is the business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, based in Pittsburgh.

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