Today I submitted public comments on the permits for the proposed Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline that will run through western PA, including part of Allegheny County.

You can be sure that I will continue to support a growth of clean energy and sustainable jobs in place of expanding fossil fuels. There is no reason we have to give up our health and environment to create jobs!

Full Text of public comments to PA DEP

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to ask that you deny permits E02-1773 & ESG-00007170003 for the Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline based on the permits’ inability to meet the requirements of several subsections of the Pennsylvania Code as outlined below. This letter is meant to be included in public comments.

The approval process for permit E02-1773 is governed under Section 105.21(a) of the Pennsylvania Code. Sections 105.21(a)(3) and 105.21(a)(4) require that the proposed project adequately protect the public safety, health, and the environment, and respect the constitutional right to clean water and air. DEP’s mission also reads: “To protect Pennsylvania’s air, land, and water from pollution, and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment.”

The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) documents over 11,000 pipeline incidents over the last 20 years, costing over $7 billion in direct damages and the lives of hundreds of workers [1] – not to mention health impacts on thousands more and the long-term environmental costs pushed onto the public that are impossible to quantify. It is clear that pipeline infrastructure is hazardous to the safety, health, and environment no matter where it is located or who operates it. In particular, PHMSA data shows Shell, the permit applicant, being responsible for nearly 200 incidents since 2002, incurring millions of dollars in damages. I also acknowledge and agree with the many speakers I heard at the DEP public hearing in Allegheny County on Thursday, April 5th, 2018, that spoke out against the proposed pipeline with personal stories and scientific data. I would like to remind DEP that the vast majority of speakers there were against the pipeline, with the few speaking in favor admitting to having financial ties to the industry. It is clear that the community does not trust this infrastructure to adequately protect public safety, health, and the environment, and so the permit must be denied.

One response from the industry to the poor safety and environmental record is that the jobs produced are somehow worth the inevitable damages. According to Department of Energy jobs data for 2017 compiled by the Sierra Club [2], clean energy jobs (solar, wind, etc.) already outnumber fossil fuel jobs by nearly 2.5:1 nationwide, with Pennsylvania having higher than average clean energy growth. While fossil fuel related jobs have declined significantly, clean energy jobs are expected to rise dramatically over the next decade [3]. In short: We do not have to sacrifice our health and environment for jobs. We can deny these permits and still be confident in growing Pennsylvania’s economy.

DEP can play an important role in the transition to a modern green economy, away from the antiquated and dangerous fossil fuel industry. I encourage you to uphold our constitutional rights and act now for a better future by denying these permits.


Garret Wassermann

[1] [2] [3]