Update 2016-09-23: Not quite: Energy Transfer backed out of buying Williams Co..
DAPL and Sabal Trail: now part of the same pipeline companies.
The pipeline companies behind the Sabal Trail fracked methane boondoogle through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are now owned by the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that wants to pump oil through North Dakota where the Standing Rock Sioux have attracted an encampment of thousands of people who have successfully and nonviolently stopped pipeline construction at least for the moment. WWALS was one of 93 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide that co-signed a letter from Waterkeeper Alliance in support of the Standing Rock Sioux. Opponents of these pipelines, including native Americans in Florida and Georgia as well as North Dakota, are no longer just fighting the same industry: they’re fighting the same companies.
The pipeline companies behind DAPL are Energy Transfer and Enbridge. Last year, Energy Transfer Equity bought Williams Company, the pipeline company behind the Transco Hillabee Transmission Project in Alabama where Sabal Trail plans to get its fracked methane.
This Tuesday we learned that Enbridge is buying Spectra Energy, the pipeline company that wants to gouge Sabal Trail under our Withlacoochee River in Georgia and our Suwannee River in Florida, through the fragile karst limestone containing our drinking water in the Floridan Aquifer. Sean Sullivan, SNL Beta, Tuesday, 06 September 2016, Enbridge, Spectra to build energy behemoth from complementary strengths SNL Extra,
“Major pieces of the development program would consist of relieving constraints and gaining market access in liquids pipelines, expanding and extending gas pipelines in the U.S. Northeast, adding gas pipeline capacity in the Southeast, and installing more gas pipeline across borders for gas exports.”
At least four liquid natural gas (LNG) export operations have already been approved in Florida right where the Sabal Trail pipeline chain goes, so it’s not a big leap to think at least some Sabal Trail gas would be exported, too.
And if any of that fracked methane is for export, how can eminent domain for Sabal Trail be justified? Especially now that FPL’s own 2016 Ten Year Plan says Florida needs no new electricity until at least 2024.
The big banks investing in these 20th century fossil fuel pipeline projects, including Bank of America, State Street, and Morgan Stanley.
Just yesterday, minutes after a judge denied a Standing Rock Sioux motion to stop construction on DAPL, an unprecedented statement was issued, effectively halting construction anyway, at least temporarily: Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.
The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.
“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.
“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”
The Army Corps didn’t adequately evaluate evidence about Sabal Trail, either, including a hydrology report organized by Bobby C. Billie, one of the Clan Leaders and Spiritual Leader, Council of the Original Miccosukee Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples. DoJ, USACE, and DoI should halt construction on Sabal Trail, too.
Many new groups and people have joined the opposition to Sabal Trail, and the number of peaceful nonviolent demonstrations against it is likely to grow. The pipeline companies and law enforcement would do well to remember this from the Department of Justice:
“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely.”
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