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Pipeline spills lead to criminal charges

Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro yesterday lodged 48 criminal counts against Energy Transfer over alleged violations of environmental laws during construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Pennsylvania.
  • The violations stem from drilling practices by the Dallas-based company that allowed drilling fluids to pollute groundwater, in violation of the state's clean streams law, Shapiro's office said in a press release.
  • Efforts to reach Energy Transfer were not successful. But in regulatory filings, the company acknowledged receiving a subpoena from Shapiro's office and said it planned to "vigorously defend itself."

Why is this happening: While Shapiro has focused on wage violations at Pennsylvania companies, he also has devoted resources to ferreting out environmental crimes.
  • In filing charges against Energy Transfer, formerly known as Sunoco, Shapiro repeated his call for tougher rules and penalties in Pennsylvania.
  • “Under our state laws, if convicted, this company will be sentenced to fines and restitution," Shapiro said in a statement. "There is no jail time for these environmental crimes, and fines are not enough."

The background: The Mariner East pipeline travels through Cumberland County, as well as portions of York, Dauphin, Lebanon and Lancaster counties.    
The bottom line: Shapiro is expected to run for governor next year as a Democrat. The regulation of pipelines could be among the issues on which the election is fought.

Quick takes

WHO'S HIRING. The city of Harrisburg. It has named Elvis Solivan as its new director of business development and administrator of its local LERTA tax-incentive program. He brings experience in affordable housing, workforce development, government affairs and customer service, according to a city press release.
  • Solivan worked most recently as a regional senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Before that, he worked as a communications specialist for the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
  • LERTA is an incentive program that slowly phases in property tax increases for redevelopment projects, making projects more financially viable.

WHO'S ON STRIKE: Roughly 1,400 unionized workers at four Kellogg cereal plants, including one in East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. An existing labor contract expired Monday. In a statement, a union leader said workers are seeking a "fair contract" but that the company is asking workers to give up health and retirement benefits, as well as holiday and vacation pay.
  • "The company continues to threaten to send additional jobs to Mexico if workers do not accept outrageous proposals that take away protections that workers have had for decades," Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International, said in the statement.
  • Kellogg told the Reuters news agency that the company's compensation and benefits were among the industry's best and that it was making plans to manage any disruptions to supply.

The background: The four plants make Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes, according to the union.
  • In addition to Lancaster, the strike affects plants in Battle Creek, Michigan, Omaha, Nebraska, and Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Kellogg employs 31,000 people overall, according to its most recent annual report. It had sales of $13.8 billion in 2020, up from $13.6 billion in 2019.

WHAT'S ON A COLLISION COURSE: The demand for school-bus drivers and the demand for snowplow drivers. Days after putting out a call for people licensed to drive school buses, Pennsylvania said it also needs people who can drive snowplows.  

WHO'S BUYING SIGNS: Yoe Industrial Services. Based in York Township, York County, the company has changed its name to Yoe Construction, a move designed to reflect its broader range of commercial and industrial construction services, according to a notice on its new website.
  • The company was founded in 1975.

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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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