Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline approved today the filing of a Petition for Injunctive Relief to prevent Sunoco Pipeline LP from proceeding with construction of the Mariner 2 pipeline on County property.
The move by the County to file the injunction follows written notification from Energy Transfer on behalf of Sunoco Pipeline, LP, sent to Chester County Facilities Director Jan Bowers on January 10. The letter declares Sunoco’s intention to begin pipeline construction via open trench method on January 24, 2020 at the Chester County Library and on a portion of the Chester Valley Trail.
“Energy Transfer’s notice is extremely premature because it completely ignores the pending legal action initiated by Chester County against Sunoco Pipeline, LP, regarding construction of the Mariner East pipeline on County property,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “That legal action – the lawsuit against Sunoco, LP – is currently in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, and that is why we have filed today’s Petition for Injunctive Relief.”
In April 2019 (and as amended in May 2019), Chester County filed a civil lawsuit against Sunoco Pipeline LP regarding the Mariner East pipeline project. The County’s lawsuit sought “injunctive and declaratory relief to enjoin Sunoco from construction of the pipeline on the County properties.”
Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said, “In essence, through the civil lawsuit, the County is asking the court to issue a permanent injunction that prohibits Sunoco from building the ME2 pipeline on the named County land.
“This legal action is still unresolved by the court and the construction of a pipeline should not even be considered until a final ruling on the lawsuit is made.”
At issue are Sunoco’s easements on County-owned land at the Chester County Library in Exton, and on a portion of the Chester Valley Trail. Over 80 years ago, Sunoco LP’s predecessors-in-interest acquired a pipeline right-of-way over privately owned lands in West Whiteland Township. The County subsequently purchased portions of the land, and in February 2017, Sunoco sought supplemental easements for the properties.
Those supplemental easements required Sunoco Pipeline, LP to install its pipelines using “road bore method or horizontal directional drilling method which shall not disturb the surface of the Property,” or use the “traditional open trench method should conditions beyond Grantee’s reasonable control necessitate it.” The easements stated that the open trench method of construction may not proceed unless Sunoco provided substantial evidence to the County that conditions beyond Sunoco’s reasonable control necessitate the use of the open trench method, or that Sunoco received written permission from the County.
"Sunoco is intending to proceed with the open trench method of installation without prior written justification or County permission, and this clearly violates the terms of the supplemental permanent easement,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “The company tried to start construction this way in April of last year, which prompted the County lawsuit. How can Sunoco think that the County would acquiesce now, when nothing has changed and the lawsuit is still pending?”