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Prosecuting environmental crimes for a hope of a green future

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By Q Hubo News Team

On October 5th, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro together with the 45th statewide investigative Grand Jury, pressed charges against Energy Transfer, LP. The charges were for 46 counts of environmental crimes during their construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

The total counts were 48 as the Grand Jury added two more according to the press release. The AG said that the negligence shown by this company caused harm to our natural resources which with the result of its contamination could result in loss of human lives.

This is not the first time that AG Shapiro has pressed charges against a company due to their mismanagement of the local environment. According to our research, we found at least 16 instances where the Attorney General has taken a stance in regards to environmental crimes or topics surrounding the environment. In March 30th, 2017 he announced a settlement for $30.4 million with the car maker company Volkswagen.

Another instance was in August 1st of 2017 where he took legal action against the Trump administration by “challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to delay implementing a rule to reduce levels of ground-level ozone or smog — critical to protecting Pennsylvanians and Americans from dangerous pollution.” according to their press release at the time.

“The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.4 Most of the warming occurred in the past 40 years, with the seven most recent years being the warmest. The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record.”

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We can suffer the effects of a company not handling waste the correct way and by the nature of the location this could mean a problem with the water we drink or the food with eat to mention some but in a large level, this can mean changes in the temperature of the planet.

Michael Schroeder, a Pennsylvania resident located in Lebanon county and winner of the 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence said “Human beings are but one tiny strand in a vast web of life, and without that web of life — including all its viruses and bugs and myriad other creepy crawly things — we’d quickly die out as a species.  So laws protecting the environment are absolutely essential in today’s world. 

But the laws on the books now are also terribly inadequate.  For instance, a massive multibillion dollar corporation like Texas-based Energy Transfer can thumb their noses and ignore all kinds of PA environmental laws building their pipelines. 

And even if they are criminally charged — as they just were by the Attorney General’s Office under Josh Shapiro — the worst that can happen is they pay a fine.  And those fines become just another cost of doing business.  Nobody goes to jail.  No individual is held responsible or accountable.  This is utterly scandalous.  For all the environmental crimes detailed and documented in the grand jury report, at least several high-level executives at Energy Transfer should be looking at long prison sentences. That they’re not shows how weak and inadequate PA law is when it comes to protecting the environment (see the grand jury’s presentment, at https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21079232-2021-10-05-mariner-east-presentment)”.

Then again, our goal must be to not only make this a topic we discuss over dinner but a topic we feel its our responsibility to act accordingly to protect our ecosystems.

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