Sunoco Denial of Delay

A Sunoco denial of delay includes information on a plan for a second pipeline across Pennsylvania.

Sunoco Logistics: Opposition won’t delay pipeline

By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: Philly.com/May 09, 2014

Local opposition to a Sunoco Logistics Partners Marcellus Shale pipeline should not delay the project or add to its cost, the company’s president told investment analysts Wednesday.

Michael J. Hennigan, chief executive of the Philadelphia pipeline company, said the 299-mile Mariner East project, which would transport natural gas liquids on an existing pipeline to port facilities in Marcus Hook, is moving ahead.

“Obviously, whenever you’re engaged in a project, you’re going to run into some local discussions,” Hennigan said. “We’re very confident we can work through those issues with all the townships we’ve impacted.”

The company’s subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., has encountered resistance acquiring rights-of-way along a 50-mile portion of new pipeline in Western Pennsylvania. And some residents in West Goshen Township in Chester County have objected to its proposal to expand its Boot Road pumping station.

Hennigan said the company’s experience converting an existing pipeline to transport natural gas liquids from the Pittsburgh area to Ontario demonstrates that the company has a good track record.

Sunoco anticipates the 72,000-barrel-per-day Mariner East project will begin transporting propane this year and ethane next year. The ethane, which is a raw material in petrochemical production, is committed for export to Norway.

Sunoco has also been exploring building a parallel pipeline to transport additional liquids to Delaware County that would begin operations in 2016. That new pipeline would require additional rights-of-way across Pennsylvania.

Antero Resources, a producer in the Marcellus and Utica Shales, recently committed to transport 51,500 barrels per day of ethane, propane, and butane on the new pipeline.

Hennigan says Sunoco needs additional shipper commitments to go ahead with the project, and has extended the “open season” for shippers to sign up. The project is competing with other pipelines that would carry the fuels to the Gulf Coast ports and chemical plants.

Sunoco Pipeline is asking the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to clarify its standing as a public utility, a move that faces legal challenges from property owners along the potential pipeline route.

Sunoco Pipeline Delay

On April 30, 2014 Judge Katherine B. Emery issued an Order which stayed, or delayed, litigation in the consolidated eminent domain cases of Cox v. Sunoco. The Order was in response to a Motion by new counsel recently hired by Sunoco.

Sunoco Pipeline Withdraws the West Goshen Effort and Proceeds with the PUC Effort

Sunoco shifts battle over pipeline to PUC

By Kendal Gapinski, Daily Local News
Posted: 04/29/14
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Residents gathered recently in West Goshen, most to voice opposition to a request by Sunoco involving a natural gas pipeline going through the township.
Staff Photo by Vinny Tennis

WEST GOSHEN — Sunoco Logistics has withdrawn its application seeking special exceptions for its pump station on Boot Road and Route 202 that was in front of the zoning hearing board, the township said Tuesday.

Instead, the company indicated it will fight the legal battle over its Mariner East Project above-ground facilities in front of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

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A worker builds part of the Mariner 1 pipeline that will bring in natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to Marcus Hook. (Delaware County Times Staff / JULIA WILKINSON )

The company plans to transport mainly propane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale section of the state in western Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook in Delaware County.

According to Township Manager Casey LaLonde, Sunoco removed its application on Tuesday seeking a special exception for a public utility use in a residentially zoned area. The zoning hearing was set to continue on Thursday evening but is now canceled.

Sunoco had filed with the township zoning hearing board in February for special exceptions concerning the height of its combustion system — which was later redesigned to meet current zoning ordinances — and for a special exception for a public utility use in a residential area.

Company spokesman Jeff Shields said in a statement that Sunoco’s withdrawal of its application comes a day after the company notified the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission that it will be filing an amended petition seeking public utility status for its above-ground facilities within 10 days.

He said that this amended petition will assert that Sunoco is already a public utility corporation and its pipeline buildings should be exempt from local regulations.

“Sunoco Pipeline is withdrawing its application before the West Goshen Zoning Hearing Board,” Shields said in a statement. “The Public Utility Commission’s open hearing process, by law, is the appropriate public venue for approval of buildings related to the pipeline.”

He noted that the company was continuing to review the proposed facilities on Boot Road and take input from residents.
Sunoco filed a petition in March with the PUC asking for an expedited review of its application for its above-ground pipeline facilities to be given public utility corporation status. That status would exempt its facilities for its Mariner East Project from local regulations.

Shields said that the amended petition will point out to the PUC that Sunoco Pipeline “is already a public utility corporation, certificated and regulated by the PUC, for intrastate shipment of petroleum products along the Mariner East Line.”

Residents and officials have argued that Sunoco is not a public utility corporation under current law, and therefore must abide by local regulations concerning its pipeline facilities for the Mariner East Project. However, Sunoco maintains it does have this status, citing previous PUC rulings, and that it has tariffs that are regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Additionally, Shields said the amended petition will show that Sunoco Pipeline will make their shipments of propane from its Pennsylvania pipeline available to the public. Sunoco said that it is making propane accessible in response to in-state demand.

Residents said that they were happy to hear that Sunoco had withdrawn its zoning application, but said they were still focused on fighting Sunoco for its public utility status in front of the PUC.
“When I first saw the letter, it was kind of like ‘yes!’” said resident Tom Casey. “But this doesn’t mean that we won. We still have a big fight at the PUC level.”

“We need to get more and more people involved,” he added. “We know where our focus is now.”

Pipeline Easement Settlement

pipeline_easment

A pipeline company sought a pipeline easement along the edge of a commercial property in Reading, Pennsylvania. The pipeline company offered $35,000.00 for the easement. Lavery Law’s predecessor firm provided representation and pointed out that the easement rights interfered with access. During the course of negotiations, the pipeline company obtained approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the pipeline. The matter settled with language to protect the commercial sign for the property and to reduce the rights from multiple pipelines to a single pipeline. The matter settled for $85,000.00.

Disclaimer: case results are dependent on the facts of the particular case. Prior cases do not provide any guarantee or expectation of the outcome of a future case.

Sunoco v. Loper

York County President Judge Linebaugh previoulsy denied the Sunoco request for eminent domain/survey rights. Judge Linebaugh’s later denial of the Motion for Reconsideration occurred on March 25, 2014. The following day Sunoco filed a Praecipe to Discontinue. On April 11, 2014 Sunoco filed a Motion to Strike Praecipe to Discontinue. On April 17, 2014 Judge Linebaugh heard oral argument concerning the Motion to Strike Praecipe to Discontinue. Counsel from Lavery Law’s predecessor firm pointed out five procedural deficiencies in the Motion. Our counsel argued that the Request to Discontinue should be denied because Sunoco failed to show prejudice.

He also argued prejudice to the property owners, the Lopers, if Sunoco was allowed to switch its position concerning discontinuance after Judge Linebaugh’s definitive March 25, 2014 Order. Judge  Linebaugh indicted he was not inclined to decide the Sunoco request prior to the appeal deadline concerning Judge Linebaugh’s March 25, 2014 Order. He proceeded with a dictated Order from the bench indicating that Sunoco’s Motion to Strike Praecipe to Discontinue would be taken under advisement.

The significance is that Judge Linebaugh is not now inclined to provide any further Orders before the appeal deadline of approximately April 24, 2014. Thus, Judge Linebaugh’s Orders denying eminent domain/survey rights could become final as of April 24, 2014.

Sunoco Pipeline Eminent Domain Effort Denied Again

againSunoco Pipeline asserted eminent domain power as the basis to request survey authority in York County. President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh, previously denied that effort and pointed out that Sunoco Pipeline, LP, was not a public utility corporation. Sunoco Pipeline requested reconsideration. Judge Linebaugh proceeded with an Order reaffirming his previous opinion. He more fully explained that Sunoco Pipeline was regulated as a common carrier under the Interstate Commerce Act and was not regulated as a “public utility corporation.”  The opinion may be persuasive to Pennsylvania judges considering the various Sunoco Pipeline efforts to proceed with the pipelines referenced as Mariner East Pipeline and the Pennsylvania Pipeline. The opinion reflects a clear strong decision in the favor of Pennsylvania property owners. The decision is expected to become final on or about April 25, 2014.

Funding Increase for PennDot Projects

Recent funding legislation will significantly increase PennDOT projects in the Allentown area as discussed below, and statewide.

Funding puts PennDOT projects back in gear

mc-route-22-widening-eps-20140224

By Dan Hartzell, Of The Morning Call

Plans for widening Route 22 through the heart of the Lehigh Valley and other long-term transportation projects are back in gear, regional planners said Monday, thanks to last year’s passage of a funding bill in Harrisburg. Widening 22 between 15th Street and Airport Road has been an on-again, off-again proposition for years, but the anticipated $2.3 billion in new annual state road funding by 2017 gives the project and smaller ones across the Valley renewed impetus. The latest Route 22 estimate puts its widening cost at $183 million.

New items on a local to-do list include resurfacing Route 33 between Interstate 78 and Wind Gap for $85 million; reconstructing the Route 309/Tilghman Street intersection for $48.5 million; rehabbing Bethlehem’s Hill-to-Hill Bridge for $38 million; and resurfacing Route 22 from 15th Street west to I-78, and from Route 191 east to the Easton area 25th Street exit. No start date has been established for any of the projects, which are expected to unfold over a 12-year period from 2015 to 2026.

“We’ll start to lay out the phasing of projects” in the months and years ahead, depending on the availability of funding, said Mike Rebert, district executive for PennDOT’s Allentown-based District 5. Projects selected for a 12-year plan are moved to four-year Transportation Improvement Programs, putting them closer to a start date. The TIPs are adjusted every other year as new information becomes available. More projects could be added to the hopper. A shortage of state money had put many programs on hold. No longer.

“This is the first time in I don’t know how many years that we’re able to talk about new projects” after a chronic shortage of new transportation revenue, said Larry Shifflet, of PennDOT’s central office in Harrisburg. “It allows us to advance things we’ve been planning for years,” Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Executive Director Becky Bradley said after Monday’s regional meeting.

After years of debate, a transportation funding bill passed the state House on Nov. 21. Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, was the only Lehigh Valley region House member to vote for it. Voting no were Democrats Daniel McNeill, Steve Samuelson and Robert Freeman, and Republicans Justin Simmons, Ryan Mackenzie, Julie Harhart, Gary Day, Marcia M. Hahn and Joe Emrick. The measure had passed the Senate the previous day, with Sens. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, and Bob Mensch, R-Berks, voting in favor, and Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, voting no. Gov. Tom Corbett signed it into law, providing billions in extra transportation spending through an increase in a per-gallon gasoline tax and other fee increases. Experts say pump prices could climb 28 cents by 2018 under the law. Foes expressed concern about that and about effects on consumers and the economy.

Some members of the Lehigh Valley Transportation Study — primarily municipal officials who advise PennDOT on roadwork needs within their municipalities to help the state prioritize the work — initially were reluctant to vote to approve the preliminary 12-year list out of concern their projects might be passed over. Rebert assured them PennDOT officials in Harrisburg hope to secure general approvals of “the direction we’re going” at the regional level to keep plans advancing. Though details may change as the years progress, state officials are confident that projects on the TIPs list will go forward.

Judge Rules that Sunoco Pipeline Does Not Have Eminent Domain Power

deniedOn February 24, 2014 President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh of York County, Pennsylvania, denied the Sunoco Pipeline Motion of for Survey Rights for the Mariner East 2 Pipeline.  The Judge adopted the argument of  Lavery Law’s predecessor firm and ruled:

Defendant argues that Plaintiff is not in fact a “public utility corporation” under the Business Corporation Law. Defendant first argues that Plaintiff is not a public utility regulated by FERC
and is therefore not a public utility corporation under the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law.  The Court agrees.  As Plaintiff repeatedly argues, it is regulated by FERC pursuant to
the Interstate Commerce Act, and not the Natural Gas Act, as a common carrier, and not as a public utility.  It therefore does not fall within the definition of a public utility corporation entitled to condemn property.

The ruling represents a significant victory for the protection of the property rights of those threatened by the Mariner East or the Mariner East II project.

Sunoco Pipeline – Survey Rights

survey_rightsCounsel from Lavery Law’s predecessor firm appeared in the York County Court of Common Pleas on February 6, 2014, to oppose a Sunoco pipeline (Mariner East) request for an immediate right to survey a Mechanicsburg property.  Our attorney argued that the request should be denied because federal jurisdiction preempted the state jurisdiction or because Sunoco failed to correctly start litigation per Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. In the alternative, we argued for denial of the request because:  (1) Sunoco is not a Condemnor, (2) Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law does not allow eminent domain for propane or ethane transportation, (3) Federal law requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, and (4) State law requires a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The judge approved our suggestion that the judge accept written argument over the following two weeks.