FBI Investigating How Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Approved Natural Gas Pipeline

FBI Investigating How Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf Approved Natural Gas Pipeline

  • The FBI is investigating how Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline to carry natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania.
  • FBI agents have interviewed current and former state employees in recent weeks about the Mariner East pipelines, according to three people who have direct knowledge of the agents’ questions.
  • All three spoke on condition of anonymity.

The focus of the agents’ questions involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether Wolf and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits, and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, those people say.

The Mariner East pipelines are owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer LP, a multibillion-dollar firm that owns sprawling interests in oil and gas pipelines and storage and processing facilities. At a price tag of nearly $3 billion, it is one of the largest construction projects—If not the largest—in Pennsylvania history.

However, the construction has spurred millions of dollars in fines, several temporary shutdown orders, lawsuits, protests, and investigations. When construction permits were approved in 2017, environmental advocacy groups accused Wolf’s administration of pushing through incomplete permits that violated the law.

Wolf’s administration is declining comment. It has said in the past that the permits contained strong environmental protections, and it denied forcing the Department of Environmental Protection to issue them. The chief federal prosecutor in Harrisburg, U.S. Attorney David Freed, declined comment.