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PA Environment Digest Blog: PUC Unanimously Denies Request To Reverse Flow Of Buckeye Laurel Pipeline

The Public Utility Commission Thursday unanimously denied the request by Buckeye to reverse the flow of the Laurel Pipeline from Pittsburgh to Altoona.
Buckeye had proposed reversing the flow of the Laurel Pipeline from Pittsburgh to Altoona allowing petroleum products from midwest refineries to be sold in the midstate at the same time cutting off access of Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania.
The decision follows nearly two years of extensive investigation and litigation over Laurel’s application, which was submitted on Nov. 14, 2016.
A coalition of businesses opposed to the reversal of flow, issued this statement in reaction to the PUC decision-- “We commend the PUC for this decision. Had the reversal been approved, the only winners would have been Buckeye Partners and out-of-state, midwestern refineries.
“Midwest refineries already have access to Pennsylvania markets, but they didn’t want competition. Pennsylvania refineries have supplied fuel to our commonwealth through the Laurel Pipeline for over a half-century.
“It is stunning to think a company tried to block our own refineries from serving Pennsylvania. In doing so, fuel prices would have skyrocketed, and thousands of Pennsylvania jobs would have been in jeopardy.
“It is our hope the PUC will act quickly to deny Buckeye’s request to shut down a portion of the pipeline for two weeks to deploy its bi-directional plan. Buckeye never obtained PUC review.
“After over a year of telling the PUC, legislators, media and the public that a reversal is best for Pennsylvania, Buckeye is now trying to take unilateral action that appears to be circumventing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission process.
“Truly embracing bi-directional flow that meets the needs of Laurel/Buckeye’s current customers — and being open to competition — are contrary to their position for well over a year.”
In April, an Administrative Law Judge recommended the PUC deny the request to reverse the flow of the Laurel Pipeline as proposed by Buckeye Pipelines.
Just a few days after the recommendation by the Law Judge, Buckeye proposed a bi-directional service plan along the Altoona to Pittsburgh section of the pipeline.
Members of the General Assembly, a variety of companies and labor unions formally entered comments on the proposal from both sides in this hotly debated issue.
To see all documents related to this case, visit PUC Docket Number: A-2016-2575829.
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