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WWALS Press Releases
Paddle Georgia, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, into Florida 2019-06-15-21
Hahira, GA, February 13, 2019 — From next to the largest Suwannee River Basin city, Valdosta, to between some of the smallest, Mayo and Luraville, Paddle Georgia brings 300 people this summer to venture for the first time across the state line from Georgia to Florida, on the Little, Withlacoochee, and Suwannee Rivers, June 15 through 21, 2019.
“Five years ago I suggested our Withlacoochee River to Joe Cook for Paddle Georgia, and he went one better, adding the Suwannee River, past two of the few second-magnitude springs in Georgia, McIntyre and Arnold, and two of the famous first-magnitude Florida Springs: Madison Blue and Lafayette,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Plus Spook Bridge and the orphaned railroad trestle near Madison, with many shoals and rapids at the GA-FL line! Special thanks to The Langdale Company for permission to take out just below Spook Bridge. Personally, I like that this paddle starts at my birthplace in Valdosta, Georgia and ends at my grandmother’s birthplace at the ferry site for Luraville, Florida.”
This event is organized by Paddle Georgia, with catered dinners and buses to and from the rivers. WWALS is assisting, for example by organizing the Spook Bridge takeout, and by pointing out many sites that non-locals might miss, ranging from springs, and Withlacoochee River agates, and the halberd-leaf rosemallow, whose blooms last only one day, to perpetual bothers such as Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, and Duke Energy’s Suwannee Power Plant.
See also this map depicting the seven days of Paddle Georgia 2019:
About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the Member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.
For prices and registration see the Paddle Georgia web page,
For local context about our rivers:
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632
Deadline extended for WWALS Boomerang early-bird tickets, through 2018-10-13
Hahira, GA, October 8, 2018 — By popular demand at the Hahira Honeybee Festival, WWALS has extended the deadline for early-bird $20 tickets through Saturday, October 13, for the WWALS Boomerang paddle race, coming up Saturday, November 3, 2018. This new event goes downstream and back again on the Withlacoochee River and the west edge of Valdosta, the largest city in the Suwannee River Basin, only a few miles from Valdosta State University. Someone from the Atlantic coast of Florida won our spring BIG Little River Paddle Race this spring, and kayaks or canoes from everywhere are welcome at the Boomerang as well. If you don’t have a boat, two outfitters so far have signed up to supply those. There will be food and drink and music at this WWALS fall paddling festival.
WWALS Boomerang organizer Bobby McKenzie and family with fellow WWALS board member Dan Phillips in the parade at the Hahira Honeybee Festival.
Boomerang paddlers will race from Langdale Park Boat Ramp, just off of North Valdosta Road (US 41), down the Withlacoochee River to Sugar Creek Landing, and back upstream. If you don’t want to race, you can just paddle, and if you don’t want to paddle upstream, you can take out onto Gornto Road. Bobby’s four-year-old son finished our other paddle race, so paddlers of all ages are welcome.
For all the details and to get tickets, follow this link: wwals.net/?p=45693
All settled with Sabal Trail without jury 2018-09-13
Valdosta, GA, September 13, 2018 — This morning two landowners from Moultrie, Colquitt County, Georgia, and the Bell brothers of a subject property in Mitchell County, Georgia, all settled with Sabal Trail Transmission about payment for easements for a 36-inch natural gas pipeline through their land.
Defendant Jeb Bell said afterwards,
I am extremely unhappy, but such is life.
We fought as good as we could for as long as we could.
The defendants’ attorney Jonathan P. Waters had no comment on the confidential settlement of these cases.
These cases were originally filed by Sabal Trail Transmission against Georgia landowners in March 2016, invoking federal eminent domain supplied to Sabal Trail by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on February 2, 2016. The pipeline has since been built through the defendants’ land with no agreement and no payment.
Judge Clay D. Land, Chief U.S. District Judge, Middle District of Georgia, told the jury afterwards that they had been working hard back there even if they didn’t know it. (The jury had been sequestered while the parties were negotiating.) The judge told the jury that the knowledge they were waiting to take the cases out of the hands of the parties helped them to settle.
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said,
Maybe Sabal Trail was tired of losing jury trials.
From what the judge said and from what I saw on the previous days of these trials, I would guess that Sabal Trail was scared this jury might be even more generous than the previous two juries, which each awarded five times as much as Sabal Trail offered, on March 20, 2018, in Ocala, Florida and on June 27, 2018, in Valdosta, Georgia.
I asked Sabal Trail’s attorneys Brooke Voelzke and Matthew J. Calvert if they had any comment, but they did not.
All these jury trials were only….
Winners of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2018
In a good time with good food and good music, at the Salty Snapper in Valdosta, Saturday afternoon, June 23, 2018, three judges from Georgia and Florida deliberated a long time after six songwriters from Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida sang, and selected winners of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2018.
The WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee met many times to plan for the first annual contest. The purpose of the contest was to raise awareness of the WWALS watershed and its accomplishments. Will Eason of the Salty Snapper welcomed us, WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel spoke about the origins of WWALS, Board member Bret Wagenhorst spoke about Outings, Committee Chair Eileen Box spoke about the Committee, and WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman was the M.C.
Winners and Judges (Sharon Yeago), left to right: Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS E.D. and contest M.C. Gretchen Quarterman, ? (JJ), ? (JJ), Jay Jourden (JJ), Judge J.J. Rolle, Emmett Carlisle, Laura D’Alisera, Mike Tappan, Judge Cindy Bear, Dave Pharr, ? Tom Shed (JJ), Don Austin (JJ), Hollin Gammage, and the small child is next year’s contestant (JJ marks members of Jay Jourden’s band).
The finalists, who played in random order, selected by drawing straws, with sound by Will Eason and other help by Scotti Jay, were:
Sabal Trail loses jury trial in Valdosta, GA 2018-06-26,
The jury deliberated a bit less than an hour, delivering a verdict just before 7PM tonight: $103,385 for easement and $4,531.50 for timber. The figures offered by Sabal Trail were $19,979 for easement and $4,117 for timber. Assuming these numbers transcribed from various speakers are correct, the jury awarded five times what Sabal Trail offered for the pipeline easement and somewhat more than their offer for timber.
“When Sabal Trail goes to jury trial, it loses,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.
Here are the winners, waiting in the hall before the jury came back:
This jury verdict from the U.S. Court, Middle District of Georgia, is very similar to….
Hollin Gammage from Tennessee, among 7 finalists for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Valdosta, GA,
Valdosta, GA, June 14, 2018 — Three judges from Florida and Georgia will choose from seven finalists from three states to award prizes in the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday, June 23, in Valdosta, Georgia.
Sending in a song from the farthest away, Tennessee, and with the most laconic self-description, is Hollin Gammage:
Performing songwriter from southeast north America will travel.
She wrote a bit more on ReverbNation:….
Each finalist has a good chance to win the first prize of $300. Or the $50 prize for a finalist from within the Basin, or the $50 prize for a finalist from outside, plus there will be a prize for one finalist in each musical genre or style.
We’ll post about four more contestants in upcoming days. We’re not giving out their song titles, lyrics, or music: for those come to the contest and hear them live!
Where: The Salty Snapper, 1405 Gornto Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602
When: 1-5PM, Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tickets: $10 each online, or $12 at the door
For more details: see Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 2018-06-23…..
WWALS prepares to sue FERC for shirking LNG Export oversight
Washington, D.C., June 13, 2018 — WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) prepares to sue the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for shirking its legally-required oversight of inland liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals. “LNG trucks barrel down I-75 right by my old high school in Lowndes County, Georgia,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, after meeting with WWALS’ attorneys in Washington, D.C. “Those trucks from LNG terminals in Alabama and Georgia pass a technical college, a conference center, motels, homes, and businesses, going to I-10 for Jacksonville, Florida, where that LNG goes at least as far on ships as Puerto Rico.”
Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2015 abdicated its jurisdictional duties under the Natural Gas Act to regulate the siting, construction, operation and maintenance of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) small-scale inland export facilities, instead these facilities operate with basically no Federal oversight.
“I am greatly concerned that an LNG commercial project of this magnitude is not only planned, but that apparently has slipped through the cracks of local and federal regulators,” said WWALS member Harriet Heywood of Citrus County, Florida.
At the ends of the Sabal Trail pipeline chain in Florida, trucks go out from half a dozen LNG export operations authorized by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy (FE). If any of those trucks wrecks, federal standard everyone should be evacuated half a mile downwind, including high schools and hospitals. Very few local emergency responders know this and fewer have appropriate emergency plans.
Vulnerability of LNG by Rail, by Martin County Fire Rescue, December 15, 2015.
“The unintended consequences of FERC’s abdication of Congressional jurisdictional authority are mind-boggling,” said WWALS member Cecile Scofield of Palm City, Martin County, Florida, “They include….”
New location: Valdosta, GA for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest,
Hahira, GA, May 21, 2018 — The Contest has moved to The Salty Snapper on the Withlacoochee River in Valdosta, Georgia, in the biggest city in the Suwannee River Basin! The contest date is the same: Saturday, June 23, 2018. You can still send in a song through Friday, June 1, 2018, about the Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha, Suwannee, or other rivers, springs, swamps, etc. in the Basin. The first prize gets $300, plus a $50 for a finalist from within the Basin, a $50 prize for a finalist from outside, and prizes to one finalist in each musical genre or style.
“Thanks to Will Eason, General Manager of The Salty Snapper, for finding the perfect afternoon time slot for a songwriting contest on the Withlacoochee River in the population center of the Suwannee River Basin,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.
Deadline to send in songs: Friday, June 1, 2018
How to send in a song: Here is the entry form
Top Three Winners, BIG Little River Paddle Race 2018-04-28
Hahira, GA, April 29, 2018 — With the first-ever winner from Florida and a new record time, the next two categories one each from Tift and Lowndes Counties, Georgia, and a record number paddlers from 4 to 67 years old, the BIG Little River Paddle Race at Reed Bingham State Park Saturday was a fun time and a successful fundraiser for Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB) and WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS).
Lloyd Reeves drove three hours from Crescent City, Florida, with a very fast kayak, to become the first-ever Florida winner, and he proved himself a winner in another way with the prize.
In addition to the First Prize trophy, winner Reeves got a hundred dollar bill from race organizer Bret Wagenhorst of WWALS. and a matching hundred dollar bill from Dianne Walters of FORB. Reeves then donated both Benjamins back to the contest. Now that’s a winner!
WWALS clean sweep at site of old Troupville, GA
Hahira, GA, April 23, 2018 — Fifty children and adults helped WWALS clean up the site of old Troupville Saturday, with permission and thanks from the landowner where that former Lowndes County seat goes down to the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, just west of Valdosta.
Cleanup leader WWALS member Bobby McKenzie said:
We met at the signs for safety/execution briefing. I was able to talk about the signs and water trail to 50 folks and when I asked who knew about the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers and being able to kayak them, only 2 folks were aware. Now 50 more folks are aware…and half were kids…but some of the best kind of kids…Boy and Girl Scouts!
Photo: Bobby McKenzie for WWALS 2018-04-21, at Troupville Boat Ramp, by the WWALS signs for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) that Phil Hubbard planted 2018-04-20.
Landowner Helen Tapp, whose family LLC gave permission for this cleanup, added:
What a fabulous turn-out of Earth Day workers! Thank you so much for the clean-up and helping the Troupville site regain a little dignity.
Also, your efforts will help reduce the debris that gets in the rivers, and contributes to a healthier habitat for a variety of wildlife.
Cheers to all your hard work! Hope it was fun to be out on such a pretty day. Your efforts are very much appreciated.
Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2018-05-31
Update 2018-04-16: Tickets now available!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Valdosta, GA, April 5, 2018 — WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee Riverkeeper) announces a Wild & Scenic Film Festival at Mathis Auditorium in Valdosta as a natural extension of WWALS’ work to inspire people to act for fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters.
Where: Mathis Auditorium,
2300 North Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 31602
To print this poster, use the PDF.
Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Cedar Key, FL 2018-06-23
Live Oak, FL, April 2, 2018 — Submissions are now open for the First Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. Soon there will be more songs about the Suwannee River than the one everybody knows, and also about the Withlacoochee, the Alapaha, and more; don’t forget the Okefenokee Swamp. Stephen Foster never saw the Suwannee River, so songwriters don’t have to live here to submit, but they do have to be present to win.
Georgians Want Coal Waste Laws Fixed
Hahira, GA, February 27, 2018 — “We don’t want coal ash in our rivers or in our wells, and we don’t want any more mercury in our Alapaha River from coal plants, so we back Georgia House Bill 879 to inform Georgians what Georgia Power and others are doing with their coal ash,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. He added, “Ninety percent of Georgians agree on this, and Georgia Water Coalition has helped this bill get very close to passing. You can push it through by crossover day by getting your state legislators to vote on it today or tomorrow.”
Here is an easy way to send email to your Georgia state legislators:
For more background on these bills, see:
Florida man wins Suwannee Riverkeeper kayak raffle drawing at Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia,
Hahira, Georgia, December 13, 2017 — People got kayak raffle tickets for three months at festivals from Alapaha, Georgia to Live Oak, Florida, and online, until the drawing at a Suwannee Riverkeeper outing Sunday at the top of the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp. The lucky winner of a kayak donated by Malibu Kayaks is Chris Newton from the Atlantic coast of Florida. “No way!” he said.
At Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo, Georgia, Gretchen Quarterman, Acting Executive Director for WWALS Watershed Coalition, said:
“These are all the tickets that we sold. And these are the ones that Shirley [Kokidko, WWALS board member] sold. These are the ones that came from Phil [Hubbard, WWALS board member of Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, who made that nice kayak raffle sign]. These are the ones that came from Hulaween [Live Oak, Suwannee County, Florida]. These are the ones that came from Skillet Fest [Quitman, Brooks County, Georgia, suggested by WWALS member John Horton of Quitman and Suwannee, Dixie County, Florida] ….”
WWALS board member Shirley Kokidko of Pearson, Atkinson County, Georgia, had the video camera at….
Nine Riverkeepers say FERC’s Sabal Trail SEIS unacceptable; request pipeline shutdown,
Hahira, Georgia, November 21, 2017 — Factually incorrect, failing to account for LNG export or solar power, and irresponsible for not finding or creating a method for attributing environmental effects to greenhouse gases, as the DC Circuit Court had instructed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to do: that’s what nine Riverkeepers called FERC’s Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) yesterday; see their letter to FERC. The nine include all the Riverkeepers in the path of Sabal Trail and all parts of the Southeast Market Pipelines Project (SMPP) plus others in all three states invaded by those pipelines, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, plus Oklahoma, where the SMPP instigator, Florida Power & Light (FPL), owns a fracking field, The nine, who support fishable, swimmable, drinkable water, pointed out that all of FPL’s original excuses for Sabal Trail have been proven incorrect, and asked FERC to shut it down.
Sabal Trail in green, Transco and FSC in black, in Sierra Club interactive map of gas pipelines.
The Riverkeepers weren’t buying FERC’s ignorance:
Permit-less Sabal Trail pipeline risked by new sinkhole,
Live Oak, FL, October 5, 2017 — Sabal Trail, operating without a permit, is at risk from a new sinkhole within 60 feet of its 36-inch diameter, high-pressure, fracked methane pipe under Suwannee River State Park (SRSP), between the Suwannee River and the drill site in Hamilton County. Such sinkholes are among the geological risks WWALS warned about that have happened in the fragile karst limestone containing our drinking water in the Floridan Aquifer. We were assured in October 2015 by Sabal Trail and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that sinkholes and frac-outs would not happen or would be detected and fixed. They keep happening, and Sabal Trail has done nothing about this one. Sabal Trail should not even be continuing operations after the DC Circuit Court vacated its permit six weeks ago.
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at new sinkhole in Suwannee River State Park, 2017-10-03.
Photo: Christopher J. Mericle, Chair, N. Florida Working Group, Suwannee-St. Johns Group, Sierra Club Florida.
In WWALS vs. Sabal Trail & FDEP (October 2015), FDEP’s one witness, Lisa Prather, said under oath (see http://wwals.net/blog/?p=27799):
“Well, the Suwannee River crossing doesn’t, in fact, have any impacts to an outstanding Florida water, because the directional drill commences in uplands and terminates in uplands. So there are no surface water impacts at that crossing that would affect the outstanding Florida water.”
“Well, any work within, or could have adverse effects on OFW, is considered.In this case, we determine that there would be no impacts to the OFW.”
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says:
“Email to Ms. Prather’s address now comes back with an error message, while the rest of us are left dealing with this 500-mile-long IED. Why should any county, city, or citizen have to deal with this destructive and hazardous pipeline after even Florida Power and Light (FPL), whose customers are stuck paying for this $3 billion boondoggle, admitted in its 2016 Ten-Year Plan that Florida needs no new electricity until 2024 at the earliest, and last year more new U.S. electricity came from solar power than any other source, and the solar industry already employs more people in electricity generation than coal, oil, and gas combined?”
Sabal Trail has caused…
South Carolina canceling nukes is the handwriting on the wall for Plant Vogtle: WWALS to GA-PSC,
Hahira, Georgia, August 2, 2017 — Last week Tesla started shipping its Model 3, widely considered to be the Model T of the electric car industry, produced in bulk and affordable to the masses. On Monday, the companies behind the two new nuclear units in South Carolina canceled them. WWALS Watershed Coalition today asked the Georgia Public Service Commission to end Georgia Power and Southern Company’s failed Big Bet on new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle and to invest in solar power instead.
New York City changed in thirteen years from all but one horse-drawn carriages to all but one automobiles in its Easter Parade: 1900 to 1913,1 and not much longer for the rest of the country, after the Ford Model T shipped in 1908. We’re well past 1900 in the electric vehicle revolution, and that is a rapidly growing market for solar panels on business and house roofs.
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman wrote:
“The time for thinking small about wind and solar power has passed. Georgia does not need to wait for some other state or region to lead in solar power onshore and wind offshore.”
Regarding the South Carolina decision, he wrote:
“Same reactor model, same Westinghouse bankruptcy, same kind of delays and cost overruns: the parallels could not be much clearer with Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle. Add the Mississippi Public Service Commission decision to stop cost overruns for Southern Company’s Kemper <98>clean’ Coal, and the handwriting on the wall could not be easier to read.”
He noted about water:
Everything WWALS said in our 2013 letter2 about water use by Plant Vogtle vs. solar power is still true: those new nuclear units would use more water than the city of Savannah, while solar panels use none. Every dollar spent on Plant Vogtle is a ratepayer or tax dollar that can instead buy more solar power for Georgia, and the rest of the Southeast, the country, and the world, while shutting down more coal plants, and not deploying any new pipelines or natural gas plants.”
1^B "5th Avenue, 1900 Vs. 1913," Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider, March 31, 2011, referencing a Morgan Stanley report; 1900 picture from National Archives; 1913 picture from George Grantham Bain Collection, both taken of Fifth Avenue, http://www.businessinsider.com/5th-ave-1900-vs-1913-2011-3
Local citizens and governments are on their own about Sabal Trail leaks,
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “If the ‘odorant’ leak in Marion County, Florida is any indication, schools, landowners, and first responders along the Sabal Trail pipeline in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are on their own, with little to no help from the state or federal agencies that permitted that fracked methane pipeline boondoggle. Sabal Trail’s stink tanks sprung a leak less than a week after Sabal Trail notified FERC it was in service. The permitting agencies did nothing while the county spent tax dollars to investigate. That stinks. We need to change some laws and get some people in agencies that will enforce them. Meanwhile, let’s get on with solar power for the Sunshine State and everywhere else, so there will be no more new pipelines.”
Sabal Trail did not notify state or local officials about their “odorant” leak starting July 16, 2017, at the Dunnellon Compressor Station site, and Sabal Trail’s response to WWALS failed to mention local people called the same stink in to 911 two days in a row. FDEP said there’s no need so long as Sabal Trail follows various permits, but gave no indication of who is checking to see if Sabal Trail does that. Apparently we the people have to keep doing what the state and federal agencies still aren’t doing: watch Sabal Trail like a hawk.
Google map of locations of Dunnellon High School and Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station. You can see most of the 100-foot Sabal Trail right of way.
For what FDEP, PHMSA, Marion County Fire and Rescue, and Dunnellon Fire said, as well as some of the risks of corrosion, leaks, and explosions, see:
- 2017-07-28: Stop failed Big Bet on nuclear Plant Vogtle and go solar: WWALS to GA-PSC
Hahira, Georgia, July 27, 2017 — On Monday, WWALS Watershed Coalition asked the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to take Southern Company (SO) CEO Tom Fanning up on his suggestion that the PSC could affect the SO board’s August self-imposed deadline about the two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle: to go ahead despite the bankruptcy of Toshiba, or not. WWALS also asked the PSC, like it did four years ago, to require Georgia Power to buy more solar power.
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman wrote to Georgia PSC: “The Mississippi Public Service Commission in June refused to permit more cost overruns on Mississippi Power’s Kemper ‘Clean Coal’ Plant, and Southern Company pulled the plug on that failed Big Bet. You can do the same for Plant Vogtle.”
The eight-page letter from WWALS, with….
- 2017-07-27: 19 Questions from WWALS about Leak at Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station Site
Dunnellon, Florida, July 27, 2017 — Following up member reports of a very strong smell of natural gas on Florida 200 next to the site of Sabal Trail’s planned Dunnellon Compressor Station, which apparently was leaking, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and several WWALS members took pictures of the site and related locations from the ground and from the air. Today Suwannee Riverkeeper sent nineteen questions to the agencies that permitted the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, all of whom assured us that pipeline would be safe, even though it appears it developed a leak less than a week after saying it had gone into service. These questions range from what did Sabal Trail report to the agencies to who asked for the smell to be put into the gas to what were the local counties and cities or the public told?
While this apparent leak was in Florida, the lack of information about it and about Sabal Trail’s activities at this site raises even larger questions….
Florida Drops All Charges Against the 14 Gilchrist County Sabal Trail Protesters,
Valdosta, July 17, 2017 — Eight months after she and a dozen other people were unnecessarily arrested for holding signs on a public road, WWALS member Cindy Noel reports:
“All charges against those who protested the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Gilchrist County, Florida, on November, 12, 2016, have now been dropped, except for those who were intimidated into accepting plea bargains. Karrie Ford, Jodi Wheeler, Panagioti Tsolkas, Cindy Noel, Allie McDaniel, Alayna Erhard, Felicia Sobieski, Jordan Lacie, Josh Weber, and Nicole Williams were all facing Felony Trespassing on a Construction Site and Disorderly Conduct charges for speaking out against the Sabal Trail Pipeline. The reason cited by the State of Florida when it filed its NOLLE PROSEQUI action was “Insufficient Evidence to Sustain a Prosecution.”
Photo: Cindy Noel. Left to right: David Hensley, Josh Birmingham, Michael Roth (not arrested, left early), Jodi Wheeler, Alayna Erhard, Stephan Barron, Karrie Ford, Felicia Sobieski, Allie McDaniel, Josh Weber, Jordan Lacie, Nicole Williams
“These exaggerated charges were intended to….”
Valdosta resident wins WWALS kayak raffle,
Valdosta, July 13, 2017 — In a surprise to everyone, out of a box of raffle tickets for people as far as a thousand miles away, the winner was not only from Valdosta, he was in the room! No one was more surprised than winner Jeffrey Hinson Patton, seen here with the kayak he’s named Little Miss Sunshine. We’re sure he and she will be on a river near here soon.
WWALS adds evidence, again asks FERC to stay Sabal Trail, revoke its permit, plus do a SEIS 2017-06-05
June 5, 2017, Hahira, GA — Citing the sea change of solar power overtaking natural gas in new U.S. electricity last year, and generational damage to the fields of farmers such as Randy Dowdy, WWALS Watershed Coalition today filed more evidence and reasons to stop the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline from going into service and to revoke its permit. WWALS filed the same Monday that Sabal Trail Friday asked FERC to authorize turning on the gas. Plus WWALS explicitly requested FERC do a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to take into account LNG export from Sabal Trail, copious environmental permit violations, and especially new scientific evidence about the Floridan Aquifer.
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said: “Such irreparable harm outweighs a few billion dollars spent in error by a few companies.”
Winners, BIG Little River Paddle Race 2017-04-29,
Adel, Georgia, June 4, 2017 — Dwight Griner of Berrien County, Georgia won for the fifth time. A dozen other boats received prizes, as a record number of people paddled in the Fifth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race, April 29, 2017. Tifton and Tift County had the most paddlers, but the awards show more boats from Moultrie and Colquitt County. Lowndes had the second most paddlers, and there were two people each from Cook and from far-away Houston and Harris Counties, and one from Thomas County.
WWALS asks FERC to deny Sabal Trail’s in-service request and to revoke its permit,
Hahira, GA, May 26, 2017 — WWALS Watershed Coalition today asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to “stay, stop, or deny all requests to place any project facilities into service” for the Southeast Markets Pipeline Project (SMPP) including Sabal Trail. Further “WWALS as an intervenor formally requests FERC to revoke its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for SMPP.”
Hands Across the Sand on the Suwannee this Saturday
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Live Oak, FL, May 18, 2017 — With nationwide Hands Across the Sand this weekend Suwannee Riverkeeper will “Say NO to dirty fuels and YES to clean energy.” We’ve been saying that since 2013, and we say it again on our outing four hours this month down the sunny Suwannee River from Woods Ferry Tract Launch to Suwannee Springs. Be there at 9AM so we can stop on a sand beach at high noon for Hands Across the Sand!
Outing details: http://wwals.com/blog/?p=33217
About Suwannee Riverkeeper:
John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) as the Member of the Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River basin. WWALS advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. WWALS has supported solar power and opposed the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline since 2013.
Contact:WWALS Watershed Coalition
P.O. Box 88
Hahira, GA 31632
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
- 2017-05-03: Record-holding farmer, land destroyed by Sabal Trail, in Valdosta at pipeline safety meeting
- 2017-03-23: Water, Agriculture, and Forestry: public meeting @ VSU by WWALS 2017-03-28
- 2017-01-30: 5th Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race with grilling and silent auction 2017-04-29
- 2017-01-20: Tallahassee: Hold Regulatory Agencies Accountable for Sabal Trail and FSC fracked gas pipelines 2017-01-23
Rivers against Sabal Trail in Live Oak 7PM Jan 12 2017 —Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
Live Oak, Florida, January 4, 2017 —Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas is drilling its 36-inch fracked methane pipeline under the Suwannee and Withlacoochee (south) Rivers in Florida right now. It already caused a frac-out of drilling mud into the Withlacoochee River in Georgia and a sinkhole, plus more sinkholes where it drilled under the Santa Fe River in Florida. How did this happen? What can we do to stop this unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous corporate boondoggle?
Suwannee Riverkeeper calls water protectors to rally in Live Oak against the Sabal Trail pipeline and for our property rights, rivers, and the Floridan Aquifer.
2016-12-30: WWALS becomes Suwannee RIVERKEEPER,
Hahira, Georgia; December 30, 2016 — The Waterkeeper Alliance Board of Directors has approved its Affiliate WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. to become a Member. The newly appointed Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®, John S. Quarterman, will work to protect and preserve the Suwannee River Basin by combining his firsthand knowledge of the waterways with an unwavering commitment to the rights of the community and to the rule of law.
“Waterkeeper Alliance is thrilled to have Suwannee RIVERKEEPER® to be the eyes, ears, and voice for this vital watershed and community,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Every community deserves to have swimmable, drinkable and fishable water, and John S. Quarterman is the right leader to fight for clean water in the region.”
The Suwannee RIVERKEEPER® will be a full-time advocate for the Suwannee River and its tributaries, including the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Suwannee Rivers in Georgia and Florida, protecting and restoring water quality through community action and enforcement. Quarterman stated, “Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®’s aim is to provide strong advocacy that will result in an improved quality of life for all citizens, whether they rely on it for drinking water or recreation or whether they simply value the Suwannee River Basin’s continued well-being.”
- 2016-11-14: GWC Dirty Dozen Press Conference at US 84 Withlacoochee River Bridge with tour of Sabal Trail HDD #NoDAPL #NoSabalTrail #WaterIsLife 2016-11-16
Sabal Trail still leaking drilling mud into the Withlacoochee River at US 84 in GA,
Hahira, GA, November 13th 2016 — Apparently Sabal Trail continues to leak drilling mud into the Withlacoochee River, three weeks after it admitted to GA-EPD that its pilot hole under the river had leaked up into the riverbed.
WWALS members Deanna and Chris Mericle went to the US 84 bridge between Quitman and Valdosta, Georgia, and walked up the river to the site, about 2000 feet upstream. You can clearly see the water inside Sabal Trail’s turbidity curtains is not the same color as the river water.
“I am so angry because this is what we said would happen and we were assured the rivers wouldn’t be affected because they were drilling under them. The head woman at FDEP said exactly that! We told them it was likely because of our karst geology and we got patronized and patted on the head. You can guarantee they will downplay it and just drill another hole. I am pissed,” said WWALS member Deanna Mericle, who drafted the WWALS petition for last year’s four-month legal case and three-day hearing in WWALS v Sabal Trail & FDEP.
2016-11-11: Drilling mud oozing up into the Withlacoochee River from Sabal Trail HDD,
Hahira, GA, November 11th 2016 — Sabal Trail leaked drilling mud up from their HDD pilot hole into the Withlacoochee River. They knew this before WWALS asked two weeks ago what is that yellow thing in the river? They did not tell WWALS or the public that this thing they testified could not happen did happen. The evidence is in writing from Sabal Trail’s contractor to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
- 2016-11-09: What is Sabal Trail sending into the WIthlacoochee River between Quitman and Valdosta, GA?
Hundreds of Nonprofit Organizations Join to Demand Reform of Rogue Agency
Washington, DC, September 21, 2016 — More than 180 organizations representing communities across America called on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extensive history of bias and abuse. The groups are also requesting reform of the Natural Gas Act, which the groups say, gives too much power to FERC and too little to state and local officials.
“The time has now come for Congress to investigate how FERC is using its authority and to recognize that major changes are in fact necessary in order to protect people, including future generations, from the ramifications of FERC’s misuse of its power and implementation of the Natural Gas Act,” says Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a primary organizer of the effort.
“A prime example of FERC’s dereliction of duty to the public benefit is the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline Spectra Energy is drilling through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida and under our Withlacoochee River in Georgia and our Suwannee River in Florida,” says John S. Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), the Waterkeeper® Affiliate for the upper Suwannee River. He added, “FERC failed in its due diligence by opaque selection of environmental contractors, by issuing its permit before permits from two states and the Army Corps, by ignoring copious new geological and other evidence, and by giving Sabal Trail construction go-ahead while a lawsuit is still pending by Flint Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network, and others, including construction through properties whose landowners have not even had eminent domain compensation hearings. Most egregiously, despite FPL, the source of the $3 billion for this boondoggle, admitting in its 2016 Ten Year Plan that Florida needs no new electricity until 2024 at the earliest, FERC refuses to even reconsider the alleged “need” for this unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous pipeline. Corporate profits for Spectra Energy from Houston, Texas and Enbridge from Calgary, Alberta are no justification for taking local land and risking our water, air, taxes, and safety.”
2016-09-06: FPL admits Florida needs no new electricity, so why should Sabal Trail get eminent domain?
Two Georgia brothers are stuck with paying almost ten times as much in Sabal Trail’s legal fees as they spent defending their property against that invading fracked methane pipeline, even though FPL apparently admitted this year that all three of its 2013 excuses for that pipeline are no longer valid. Two federal agencies and numerous state agencies issued permits based on those excuses. Sabal Trail used those permits to get eminent domain, including to drill under rivers in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama and through the fragile limestone containing our drinking water in the Floridan Aquifer. It is time for this unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous boondoggle to be shut down and its $3 billion in FPL ratepayer money to be used for solar power in the Sunshine State.
Federal permits inflame opposition to Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle WWALS PR
There is no excuse for $3 billion down this rathole of a 20th century dying fossil fuel industry now that there are more solar power jobs than in all of oil and gas extraction. One federal permit Friday and another federal go-ahead impending for the Sabal Trail invasion of private property and wetlands in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama stiffens the resolve of the rapidly expanding opposition. WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) has revealed apparent wetlands violations and federal rule violations by Spectra Energy, the Houston, Texas pipeline company that wants to gouge under our Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, risking our water supply for its profit. Sierra Club has vowed to use “all legal means necessary to stop this fracked gas pipeline.” Opposition across Georgia continues as dozens of new groups joined the fight a week ago in Gainesville, Florida. News Friday of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) wetlands permit has inflamed opposition across the country to this latest fossil fuel land and water grab.
- 2016-07-01: New hydrology report exposes Sabal Trail pipeline risk to Floridan Aquifer
- 2016-06-04: Pictures of high school student photography contest winners, Serenity at Lime Run Spring
- 2016-05-23: Prizes awarded to high school students, Serenity at Lime Run Spring photo contest
- 2016-02-28: Winners, student logo contest, Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail, by WWALS
- 2016-02-27: Workshop at VSU: Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail
- 2015-12-29: WWALS exceptions to judge’s recommended order in WWALS v. Sabal Trail & FDEP
- 2015-12-18: EPA stepped back, while opposition ramps up against Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline
- 2015-11-17: Sabal Trail pipeline challenged by recommended order, plus Suwannee County resolution tonight
- 2015-09-04: FL-DEP grants hearing to WWALS against Sabal Trail pipeline under Suwannee River
WWALS petition against Sabal Trail dismissed by FL-DEP on technicality, not real issues
Hamilton County resident and WWALS-FL registered agent Chris Mericle summed it up:
“We can not continue to carve up our countryside like a cheap piece of meat and sell it to the highest bidder.”
Filing petition with Florida Friday against Sabal Trail: WWALS Watershed Coalition
August 27th, 2015, Hahira — Continuing to oppose the unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous invading Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, WWALS Watershed Coalition will file Friday an amended petition with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL-DEP) opposing that agency’s intent to issue a permit for Sabal Trail Transmission to bore its 36-inch pipeline from Hamilton County to Suwannee County under the Suwannee River in Florida.
- 2015-06-23: Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail Committee members wanted by WWALS Watershed Coalition
- 2015-06-20: Board and Committee members sought by WWALS Watershed Coalition, a WATERKEEPER® Affiliate
- 2015-06-12: WWALS Watershed Coalition becomes a Waterkeeper Affiliate to Patrol and Protect the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers and all their tributaries.
- 2015-04-27: Third Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race PR 2015-05-16
- 2015-03-16: South Georgia talent won the Alapaha River Water Trail Logo Contest
- 2015-03-10: Prizes to high school logo contest winners Saturday at Alapaha River Water Trail Conference
- 2015-02-12: WWALS supports Florida fracking ban
- 2015-01-14: High school student logo contest for Alapaha River Water Trail
- 2014-12-19: WWALS moves to intervene with FERC about Sabal Trail pipeline
- 2014-11-07: WWALS at Alapaha Celebration Days 8 November 2014
- 2014-11-02: WWALS signs letter to county commissions opposing the Sabal Trail pipeline
- 2014-10-29: Alabama Sierra Club Retreat talk against Sabal Trail pipeline
- 2014-10-22: Bill Gates gobbling up Georgia farmland, too
- 2014-10-22: GWC DD#9: Sabal Trail pipeline threatens Withlacoochee River and Floridan Aquifer
- 2014-10-22: Withlacoochee River & Floridan Aquifer: Gas Pipeline Threatens Southwest Georgia Water, Way of Life, GWC Dirty Dozen
- 2014-10-04: Annual Flatlander Canoe and Kayak Race in Lakeland 5 October 2014
- 2014-10-02: WWALS table at Aquifer Conference, Monticello, FL, 2014-10-2,3,4
- 2014-07-30: Water and property rights more important than methane pipeline profits
- 2014-07-21: WWALS receives Alapaha Water Trail grant from Georgia River Network
- 2013-04-29: South Georgia author Janisse Ray fundraiser for WWALS Watershed Coalition
- 2013-02-18: Alapaha River Park?
- 2013-01-10: Veteran River Conservationist Gordon Rogers spoke to new WWALS Watershed Coalition