A prominent pipeline opponent from Chester County will be heading to the state House of Representatives next year. Democrat Danielle Friel Otten beat incumbent Republican Becky Corbin to represent the 155th district in a race largely defined by community opposition to Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline project.
Friel Otten says she never thought about running for office until Sunoco began building its Mariner East pipelines 50 feet from her back door.
“There was a group of us who sat around our patio last summer and we talked about what can we do, what are our next steps,” said Friel Otten, “and we agreed that we needed to get people to step up and run.”
Mariner East 2 construction has led to drilling mud spills, sink holes, and contaminated water wells in Chester County.
LISTEN: “Pipeline Opponent Wins Seat in State House”
Friel Otten says frustration battling the pipeline project, concerns about safety and the response from local politicians led her and her neighbors to run for office.
“We need people who make better decisions for our communities and who have the courage and fight when something’s not ok,” she said.
She says she rejected any corporate money for her campaign, and raised $250,000. Last year, pipeline opponents in Chester County got elected as township supervisors and local school board members.
Friel Otten will be joined by 14, possibly 15, new suburban Philadelphia Democrats in the state House and Senate. Many of those have taken a strong stance against new pipelines.
Friel Otten says in Harrisburg she will work to make Pennsylvania a leader in renewable energy.
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among The Allegheny Front, WPSU, WITF and WHYY to cover the commonwealth's energy economy.
Read more on pipelines at our Follow the Pipeline series.