StockBeat: FBI Launches Probe Into Energy Transfer's Pennsylvania Pipeline Permits

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© Reuters. © Reuters. – Energy Transfer units fell sharply Wednesday after the FBI launched a probe into how its Mariner East project won permits to construct a pipeline in Pennsylvania.

Units for Energy Transfer LP (NYSE:), a master limited partnership, were down 5.3% this afternoon.

Permits for the construction for the two Energy Transfer pipelines – the 350-mile-long (563-kilometer) Mariner East 2 and 2x – were granted in 2017 despite environmental advocacy groups warning that the construction of the pipelines may cause irreparable damage to Pennsylvania’s environment and residents.

The pipelines are part of a trio of transmission facilities. The first, built in the 1930s, carried products like gasoline and to western Pennsyvania.

The Associated Press said the FBI is reportedly looking into whether Governor Tom Wolf and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, according to three people who have direct knowledge of the agents’ line of questioning.

That has placed Energy Transfer, which has invested about $3 billion into the expansion project, under even more scrutiny following ongoing regulatory actions against the company in recent months.

In March this year, the Delaware County District Attorney and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office began to investigate Energy Transfer’s Sunoco Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline on suspicions of criminal misconduct during construction.

Both pipelines were projected to open in 2017, but Mariner East 2 began operating only last December. Mariner East 2X could be complete in 2020.

An Energy Transfer spokeswoman said the company had not been contacted by the FBI about the Mariner East pipeline.

An MLP is a publicly traded vehicle that vests managerial power in the general partner. Investor units are publicly listed. Profits and losses flow through to investors basically untaxed.

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