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Pa. agency wrongly issued air permit to Sunoco NGL plant, state board says

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Pa. agency wrongly issued air permit to Sunoco NGL plant, state board says

Pennsylvania's Environmental Hearing Board ruled that the Department of Environmental Protection wrongly issued an air quality permit to Energy Transfer LP's Sunoco Pipeline LP for its NGL plant at the Marcus Hook facility near Philadelphia and ordered the department to reassess the permit application.

The state board ruled Jan. 9 that the department was mistaken when it assessed the emissions of multiple projects at the Marcus Hook facility in Delaware County, Pa., and treated them separately, rather than evaluating the project as a whole to determine whether air quality regulations are necessary. The facility's location makes it subject to two emissions rules: prevention of significant deterioration and new source review.

"There is some evidence of record to show that Sunoco had a plan to develop its facility in such a way as to deliberately avoid triggering [prevention of significant deterioration or new source review] requirements," according to the ruling. "Such a deliberately evasive plan is not a prerequisite to a finding that nominally separate projects are actually parts of a larger project whose emissions should be aggregated for applicability purposes."

Subsequently, the board sent the air quality permit back to the environmental department so it can re-evaluate Sunoco Pipeline's permit application.

The decision comes on the heels of the Clean Air Council's appeal of the Department of Environmental Protection action in April 2016, which resulted in a trial in May 2018, the council said in a Jan. 10 release. Joseph Otis Minott, executive director of the council, said the decision "is not only a victory for Clean Air Council, it is a victory for public health and the neighboring communities."

The Mariner East pipelines, which are being built to carry NGLs from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region to the Marcus Hook facility, are the subject of a criminal probe in Chester County, Pa., with potential charges including environmental crimes, criminal mischief and corrupt organizations.