When it comes to the pipeline, what the heck is Wolf thinking?

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

So here’s the thing: I can’t get a bottle of tequila, but somehow, Energy Transfer/Sunoco (ET/S) can keep on building Mariner East II and — based on numerous photos circulating on social media — is completely ignoring social distancing rules.

I get there is a crisis on — so the margaritas can wait for a better day. But building a pipeline? It’s a priority.

Wait, what?

So how the heck is this “essential” or “life-sustaining?” The price of oil is so low, it makes no sense to ship petroleum products to Europe. Fracking is a money loser under $50 a barrel — oil is hovering around $20 right now — add in the issues with groundwater contamination and new worries about radon, fracking makes no financial or public health sense. A poorly designed, built and maintained pipeline to carry said useless product is even more senseless.

How did we get here?

Social distancing? We don’t need no stinkin’ social distancing. Used by permission.

Simple, ET/S bought almost all the politicians, Democrats and Republicans. Republicans, who generally align with the Club For Paving The Last Little Green Spot In America (possibly not the group’s correct name, but close enough) took virtually no convincing and likely a bundle of cash. Democrats were bought off through organized cri…I mean organized labor, specifically building trades (I’m sure you understand how one might confuse the two of late).

While both parties are more or less equally corrupt on this issue, one man holds primary responsibility for this travesty continuing: Gov. Tom Wolf.

Wolf initially shut things down in a number of counties, but allowed MEII work to continue. When folks, understandably, were pissed by that news nugget, he ordered work to stop. ET/S, like an abusive spouse, asked for a waiver and promised all sorts of nice behavior essentially saying THIS TIME it would be different. So, of course, the waiver was granted.

And now the photos — there are dozens on social media, including the images above, many shot in Chester County — make it clear that social distancing is a joke. ET/S never had any intention of playing by the rules.

So, I gotta ask: what in the fresh Hell is Wolf thinking?

A more cynical person than I (all right, I know that person does not exist), might suggest, uh, external forces (cash, political muscle, or both) overriding what is best for the citizens of the commonwealth.

I sincerely hope not — I generally think Wolf is a good guy, if not always up to the moment. I’d like to think he’s getting terrible advice, rather than having gone over to the dark side.

If nothing happens to stop pipeline construction in the next few days, we’ll know the answer, won’t we? 

On the broader topic of how Wolf is doing, relative to his 49 peers, he’s doing better than some but is not performing in the top tier of governors.

There’s a wide range of how America’s governors have responded to the COVID-19 crisis — from the lionized Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York at the top of the scale, to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, largely panned for their awful response, and Wolf falls somewhere in the upper middle, not awful but not special.

About 10 days ago, I noted that Wolf was mostly doing OK, basically giving him a C+ for his efforts.

I don’t think that grade has much changed and we still have major issues other states seem to be better at addressing.

First off, explain to me why only 33 counties had Stay At Home orders until Wednesday afternoon. Why not the entire state? The point is to slow the spread — keeping so many counties in the middle of the state open for business was an unnecessary risk and a bit of pandering to the folks in the “T” – notoriously conservative extremists.

Wednesday, even DeSantis broke down and issued the order for all of Florida before Wolf finally did so. When you lag behind Ron DeSantis on anything, you’ve got to ask yourself some serious questions.

Okay, moving on to this alcohol business. On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) announced it would resume online sales of alcohol.

Yay, right?

Not so much. The system that has been set up is a bit like a Hunger Games for bourbon. May the odds ever be in your favor in the Thirsty Games!

Try to get onto the official Website. You can’t. No one can. It’s randomized — Internet speak for no one can really access it.

The PLCB said it would allow a limited (read: one guy in Erie) amount of orders.

Honestly, this is actually worse than doing nothing. Closing the state stores sent consumers rushing to Delaware, Maryland and other neighboring states — a really bad idea when you want to contain a pandemic.

Wolf needs reopen the state liquor stores, on a limited basis, with metered shopping (maybe an appointment system, to keep numbers down).

Another month of this will be a debacle.

On another issue, Wolf has done next to nothing on mortgages and rent. While other states have issued executive orders on mortgage/rent pauses — nada from Harrisburg. That’s a bit problematic – you can’t stay at home when you don’t have one.

Why has nothing happened here?

Lastly, some small good news: if you break a tooth or suddenly develop a painful cavity, now your dentist might be able to see you.

Last month, apparently taking excessive advantage of the state’s liquor monopoly, the state Department of Health demanded that virtually all dental practices in the state shut down. These practices had all scaled back to meet American Dental Association guidelines to only see emergencies and to use appropriate personal protective equipment.

But DOH stepped in — as no other state has done — and said, nope, practices must have special filtration and negative pressure systems — basically the kind of thing one finds in a hospital operating room. This brilliance sent all of the state’s dental patients to hospitals, which are at best ill-equipped to handle such cases and certainly don’t need to be seeing more patients.

So, now your local dentist might be open again — on a limited basis.

One problem caused by this DOH bungling: trying to do their part to help, in wake of the shut down order, most dentists donated their PPE to area hospitals and now can’t easily replace it (or have to pay 10x the normal cost, thanks to rampant price gouging). So even with the rule change, they can’t reopen anytime soon.

But if you’re in pain, you can always have a shot of whiskey…oh wait. Sorry.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment