After months of organizing in some of the Pennsylvania communities impacted by the construction of Sunoco’s massive, dangerous Mariner East 2 pipeline, we took one more step forward on October 17: We came to the state capitol to deliver our message directly to Governor Tom Wolf.
Residents whose water was contaminated were there, along with families who don’t want their children going to school within the “blast zone” of this dangerous fracking pipeline. And we were joined by three state lawmakers who agreed that Governor Wolf needs to take more aggressive action to protect public health and safety.
At a press conference organized by State Senator Andy Dinniman, Exton resident David Mano held up a jar of the cloudy water that was coming from his tap after the drilling started near his home, a frightening reminder of the damage that has already occurred. “We have no idea what the water has done to us,” Mano said. He rejected a settlement with Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners because he says he wants to speak out against the pipeline.
Eric Friedman from of the Andover Homeowners’ Association reminded us what this 350-mile pipeline is for-- carrying highly explosive liquids to a port where they can be exported overseas: “The primary purpose of Sunoco’s proposed Mariner East system is not to provide fuel or energy or jobs for Pennsylvanians or Americans. Rather, it is to transport byproducts of fracked gas production to Sunoco’s export terminal on the Delaware River for shipment overseas.” Friedman added: “I am here to ask for, to beg for, to demand from Governor Wolf, an assessment of the risk this project poses to our children, and to insist that, before the project proceeds one inch further, that this risk is mitigated.”
And Melissa Dibernadino, a mother of five from East Goshen Township who is a leader of the group DelChesco United, reminded us who has the power to stop Sunoco: “Governor Wolf, you are not in compliance with Pennsylvania's Health and Safety Statute, and we demand that you halt the construction and operation of Sunoco's Mariner East pipeline. We demand that you choose our children's safety, and the safety of all Pennsylvanians, over corporate profit,” she said.
This theme was echoed by Senator Dinniman: “You haven’t listened to us, Mr. Governor,” he said. “And we’re the people, and we’re going to make sure you listen to us.”
The group of residents, activists and children then headed over to Governor Wolf’s office, where we delivered a petition signed by over 6,000 people, along with art and postcards from students who are worried about the safety of their schools, classmates, and communities.
Governor Wolf wasn’t there to listen personally, but later in the day he released a statement:
"The governor takes seriously the concerns expressed by residents affected by this project and has instructed the Department of Environmental Protection to utilize all appropriate tools to enforce the stringent requirements of the permits associated with the pipeline. The governor has been in communication with various legislators and met personally with them to hear their concerns. The administration remains committed to the protection of Pennsylvania’s residents and will hold operators accountable to their obligations."
We need Governor Wolf to do more than meet with lawmakers. We need him to listen to the families already impacted by Sunoco’s reckless construction, which has already caused dozens of spills. The answer is to stop this pipeline, right now.