The 350-mile Mariner East 2 pipeline would carry dangerous, highly explosive gas liquids across the state of Pennsylvania. State regulators are not taking action to stop construction, even after dozens of drilling spillsand cases of water contamination. And the threats posed by the Mariner East 2 only get worse if it is completed. But action at the local level can still stop Sunoco.
1) Municipalities have the power
Recent decisions by Pennsylvania’s highest court have affirmed the rights of municipalities to regulate fossil fuel infrastructure. In 2013, the state Supreme Court ruled that municipalities could decide where fossil fuel infrastructure can be built. Zoning is the primary tool local governments use to make these decisions, giving them the power to decide, for instance, that fracking wells cannot be drilled in residential areas. In 2014, Uwchlan and West Goshen both passed pipeline zoning ordinances stipulating where pipelines can--and cannot--be routed. Mariner East 2 is in contravention of these local laws.
2) Winning elections in Uwchlan and West Goshen could help us win in court
Most of the big legal victories for local control have dealt with fracking wells. We still have to connect these victories to pipelines, though, and a current court case could do that. Residents of West Goshen have taken legal action to have their ordinance enforced, and this case is most likely headed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. We know that the case would be much stronger if West Goshen and Uwchlan were litigants themselves, as municipalities enforcing their own laws.
3) Winning the election means real power
By electing Mayme Baumann and Bill Miller to the Uwchlan Township Board of Supervisors, we would have a majority of the three seats on the board. This means that as a team, Mayme and Bill can, and will, enforce the Uwchlan pipeline ordinance. The same goes for West Goshen, where Mary LaSota and Robin Stuntebeck would join pipeline opponent Chris Pielli on the Board of Supervisors, giving us three votes on the five-member Board that would vote to stand up to Sunoco.
4) This fight is winnable
Both Uwchlan and West Goshen have Republican-controlled local governments, and they’ve been that way for much of recent history. But these Republican-controlled Boards of Supervisors represent the past, not the present, of these communities, and things are different when more voters show up. In the 2016 general election, for example, Democratic candidates won convincingly in both Uwchlan and West Goshen. Winning will take mobilizing the voters who turned out in last year’s election, and turning our voters of all persuasions- Democrats, Republicans, and everyone else- who are fed up with their local governments’ inability to protect them from the pipeline.
5) We’re already doing the work we need to do to win
We have already talked with thousands of voters in West Goshen and Uwchlan, and the response has been amazing: After our volunteer canvassers talk with people at their doors, 80% of them have committed to vote for our anti-pipeline candidates. That’s astonishing, but totally unsurprising: People are fed up with local inaction on the pipeline, and they’re ready to vote for candidates who have pledged to do something about it. Our challenge is not to convince people to change their minds; we just need to have enough conversations with voters who, without a reminder from us, may not even know that an election is happening.