ShareThis Page
Merits of Laurel Pipeline fuel flow reversal debated |

Merits of Laurel Pipeline fuel flow reversal debated

| Saturday, March 10, 2018 11:00 p.m

Some state lawmakers, including Westmoreland state Sen. Kim Ward, are throwing their support behind a Houston company’s proposal to reverse the flow of its Pennsylvania fuel line west of Altoona to bring more Midwestern fuel into the region.

Laurel Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of Houston-based Buckeye Partners, is seeking permission from the state’s Public Utility Commission to partially reverse the Laurel Pipeline to bring as many as 40,000 barrels of fuel from Midwestern producers into Western Pennsylvania.

Ward, R-Hempfield — who along with fellow senators Camera Bartolotta, R-Canonsburg, Guy Reschenthaler, R-Jefferson Hills, and Elder Vogel, R-Beaver, sent a March 2 letter of support to the commission — wrote that approval of the project “will benefit Pennsylvania consumers and our economy by expanding access to more affordable fuels.”

State Reps. Jim Christiana, R-Brighton, and Gary Day, R-Heidelberg Township, agreed in a January column in the Trib.

“The section of pipeline that Buckeye seeks to reverse is increasingly under-utilized by East Coast refiners that have access to many other markets,” Christiana and Day wrote. “Midwest refiners, on the other hand, can use that section to deliver additional supplies of lower-cost American-made fuel to more Pennsylvanians.”

Executives from two companies that use the fuel coming through the Laurel pipeline, however, do not agree.

Sheetz Executive Vice President Mike Lorenz and Giant Eagle Get-Go Senior Vice President Polly Flinn said the reversal will eliminate competition from East Coast fuel refineries in a February letter to the Trib.

“There is little upside but plenty of downside to the proposed reversal,” Lorenz and Flinn wrote. “Midwest refiners already have access to Pennsylvania markets and currently compete with supply from the East Coast.”

James Kunz Jr., business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 said his union is in support of the reversal.

“Midwest refiners are turning the increased supply of North American crude oil into more affordable fuels,” Kunz wrote in a February letter to the Public Utility Commission. “Without access to those supplies, though, Pennsylvania consumers will continue to unnecessarily rely on overseas imports, which are less reliable and more expensive.”

The Public Utility Commission has been considering the application since November 2016.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.