Tag Archives: Randy Dowdy

Sinkhole, Sabal Trail, Okapilco Creek, Brooks County, GA 2017-09-19

Update 2017-09-21: Yes, I reported it to GA-EPD, et al. (PDF), and here are facebook photos of most of the images below.

How close to exposed is Sabal Trail’s pipe? This sinkhole is at least a foot deep, maybe two or more, and Sabal Trail only buried their pipe three feet deep, despite requests by Brooks, Colquitt, and Lowndes Counties to bury it deeper.

At sinkhole, Sinkhole

N of sinkhole, Sinkhole

Is that fill material exposed Continue reading

Pinocchio or Vulcan? Still claims Sabal Trail is safe 2017-09-14

Is Ms. Grover is a Vulcan now?

Asked why a pipeline dispatcher apparently told the fire department that “this was a new system and they are still learning,” Grover responds that “it would be illogical to speculate as to what the fire department has quoted as part of a conversation.”

Or are those just Pinocchio donkey ears? That would be more logical.

Who do you believe? A local county fire department, or someone paid by a pipeline company to put the best face on any event? Especially when she didn’t actually deny anything Marion County Fire Rescue reported?

Amy Martyn, ConsumerAffairs, 14 September 2017, Company says its natural gas pipeline ‘operated safely’ through Hurricane Irma; However, activists say the Sabal Trail Pipeline is dangerous and needs to be removed,

The Sabal Trail Pipeline, a new natural gas pipeline that critics have charged is uncomfortably close to Florida’s main aquifer, “operated safely throughout Hurricane Irma,” a spokesperson with the pipeline operator tells ConsumerAffairs.

“We were and continue to be able to meet any customer needs,” says an email from Andrea Grover of Enbridge Energy, the natural gas company behind the Sabal Trail Pipeline. “Operations was not affected by the hurricane impacts.”

Andrea Grover’s linkedin page lists her as “Director, Stakeholder Outreach at Enbridge (Oil & Gas)”. For four years we were told the pipeline’s “stakeholders” were landowners along the way.

You know, like Brooks County, Georgia, farmer Randy Dowdy, whose world-record-holding soybean fields Sabal Trail destroyed, causing generational damage that Sabal Trail has not addressed.

Or Robin Koon, whose family graveyard Sabal Trail disturbed, which is part of why he helped Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper, and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper get standing for their recent historic victory over FERC that could still shut down Sabal Trail and already was cited in a denial of a different pipeline.

Curious how now that Sabal Trail has gotten its pipe in the ground, Ms. Grover no longer mentions “stakeholders,” just “customer needs.” Which is all Sabal Trail has been about all along: profit for a few utilities and pipeline companies, and for the frackers in the Marcellus Shale and Oklahoma and elsewhere to sell their greenhouse-gas-producing product through a 500-mile IED. Even FPL has admitted Florida needs no new electricity until 2024 at the earliest, and a stock analyst has revealed that all Sabal Trail is doing is decreasing gas shipped into Florida through FGT and Gulfstream by the same amount Sabal Trail is shipping. Why did local landowners have to give up easements for nothing but profit for utiltiies, frackers, and Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas, now owned by Enbridge of Calgary, Alberta, Canada?

But is Sabal Trail even serving those customers well? Cody Suggs reported yesterday from the Hildreth Compressor Station site near O’Brien, in Suwannee County, Florida, that power is still off there and it took two days for trees to be cleared off the access road.


Photo: Cody Suggs at Sabal Trail Hildreth Compressor Station Site 2017-09-14.

Natural gas began flowing through the Sabal Trail Pipeline in June 2017. People like John Quarterman, a Georgia landowner and activist with WWALS Watershed Coalition, a group that aims to protect watersheds in Georgia and Florida, say that federal regulators are typically asleep at the wheel for these projects.

“We have this 500-mile improvised explosive device, under our rivers, next to our schools and next to people’s houses and nobody is handling pipeline safety,” he tells ConsumerAffairs.

Well, I remember three years ago when Ms. Grover said she found it “hard to believe” that Sabal Trail was threatening landowners with eminent domain until the Valdosta Daily Times (VDT) published one of the actual letters.

Ms. Grover’s response? She used the VDT to threaten landowners with eminent domain.

That was shortly after Sabal Trail attempted to claim customers in Georgia to justify the Georgia eminent domain they were threatening, but didn’t bother to contact the local governments they claimed needed the gas.

Four years ago, Ms. Grover and Brian Fahrenthold, “the state and local government affairs director for Houston-based Spectra Energy”, told me they were “not familiar with” Spectra’s well-known public record of safety violations. She did claim everybody in Pennsylvania was happy after the infamous Steckman Ridge Compressor Station leak, for which she was called in to do spin control, which led to a rebuttal from Pennsylvania, beginning:

“I speak for more than a dozen families who live next to or near the problematic compressor facility; and your statement is incorrect and misleading.”

Neither Ms. Grover nor Spectra Energy ever responded to that rebuttal, to my knowledge.

Please let me be clear: this is not about Ms. Grover personally. As I told her the first time I met her, she is the best I have ever seen at doing her job. Which is to market her company.

Too bad her company is a pipeline company that gouged under our rivers, causing a frac-out and sinkholes, destroyed farmlands, goes right past schools and homes, and has already leaked hazardous Mercaptan at its Dunnellon, Florida, Compressor Station site.

That Steckman Ridge Compressor Station blowout? They called in Ms. Grover because another “stakeholder outreach” Spectra Energy rep. had to backtrack. And for that 2009 incident, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania fined Spectra in 2010.

Back to the ConsumerAffairs story:

Sinkholes and hurricanes

Florida’s landscape is characterized by karst terrain, or land made of porous limestone, caverns, and water dissolving into the bedrock, all of which are a recipe for sinkholes. Man-made infrastructure can increase the chance of a sinkhole forming, and so can intense rain.

“Man-induced sinkholes typically involve collapse of old mine workings, drainage infrastructure or other underground workings,” explained meteorologist Jim Andrews in one recent report. “Naturally, such can fail over time, and rainfall can be a major factor.”

In fact, at least four homes have been evacuated in central Florida this week after sinkholes formed in the wake of Hurricane Irma, according to reporters on the scene. Still, Enbridge Energy says that their pipeline can handle sinkhole-prone terrain.

Well, we’ve already come pretty close to finding out, with a sinkhole a half mile away Monday from Sabal Trail’s sister Florida Southeast Connection (FSC).

Sinkhole, FPL pipeline, FLiNG, FSC
Sinkhole, FPL pipeline, FLiNG, FSC; map by John S. Quarterman for WWALS.

Back to the ConsumerAffairs story:

“While opposition has raised the issue of the pipeline being constructed in karst terrain, this was thoroughly examined by the appropriate federal and state agencies,” responds Enbridge representative Andrea Grover by email. “They concluded it was unlikely that Sabal Trail would impact springs or the Floridan Aquifer in the karst regions. Sabal Trail is well equipped to safely construct and operate the pipeline in karst areas.”

Violations Sabal Trail and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) told us would not happen, under oath in WWALS vs. Sabal Trail & FDEP (October 2015), have already been happening.


Photo of John S. Quarterman at Sabal Trail frac-out into the Withlacoochee River between Quitman and Valdosta, Georgia: Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 17 November 2016.

But Quarterman says he does not trust the company to voluntarily report any issues that may arise. Activists with his group who live along the pipeline route have been tracking the project themselves, both before and after Hurricane Irma, to make sure no leaks, sinkholes underneath the pipeline, or any other issues have occurred.

Why, yes, I do have some sceptism about that.

As always, there’s more in the story.

No more pipelines. Here are some things you can do to help with that.

Let the sun rise on Florida, Georgia, Alabama, the southeast, and the rest of the country and the world.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

From pipelines to renewable energy and efficiency –Sierra Club 2017-08-29

“Once the court officially returns the matter to FERC, the pipeline should cease operations while FERC undertakes the new analysis,” wrote Elly Benson, lead attorney for the case Sierra Club just won against Sabal Trail.

She summed up: ”Instead of sacrificing our communities and environment to build unnecessary pipelines that “set up surefire profits” for pipeline companies at the expense of captive ratepayers, the focus should be on transitioning to clean renewable energy and energy efficiency—especially in the Sunshine State. Forcing federal agencies to grapple with the true climate impacts of dirty fossil fuel projects is a big step in the right direction.”

She leads off this fourth in a WWALS news roundup series (1, 2, 3) about that case, followed by Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper, another party to the case.

WWALS is not a party to that case and does not speak for the parties, so I can be a cheerleader for them. Shut it down! Let the sun rise!

How many pipelines do we want? None! When do we want it? Never!
How many pipelines do we want? None! When do we want them? Never! —WWALS at the Sabal Trail Suwannee River crossing, 15 August 2015.

Support the Clean Water Act for our rivers and aquifer

This Fourth of July holiday, you can help promote continued independence of clean water by opposing the EPA’s attempt to repeal the Clean Water Rule and then undermine the Clean Water Act. FLoridians in the seven counties that have asked the EPA to do something about Valdosta’s wastewater: here’s your chance to make sure the EPA can still do anything. Georgians who don’t want coal ash in landfills or industrial waste in our waters: you can help save the Clean Water Act. Everybody in the Suwannee River Basin: the water we drink from the Floridan Aquifer interchanges with surface waters, and we need the EPA to help protect all those waters.

How to Comment

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WWALS adds evidence, again asks FERC to stay Sabal Trail, revoke its permit, plus do a SEIS 2017-06-05

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.”


And that’s without even getting into risks to education, such as Sabal Trail only a mile from Clyattville Elementary School.

WWALS filed the document today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The WWALS cover letter is included below in this message, and the FERC filing is available online.

WWALS wrote in Attachment 1:

“Solar power has actually more than doubled every two years since 2013. Yet FERC only counts utility-scale solar power. Adding rooftop and community solar panels, already a sea change has occurred.

Continue reading

Call U.S. Senate Energy Committee about Sabal Trail and FERC violations

Update 2017-08-03: The Senate already confirmed those two nominees. But there are more nominations to oppose and other things you can do.

Update 2017-06-15: On 6 June 2017 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee forwarded two FERC nominees, but the full Senate has not voted on them, so you can lobby your Senators to vote no.

You can follow up after five people were arrested Thursday protesting confirmation hearings for FERC nominees in the U.S. Senate Energy Committee. The committee hasn’t made any decisions yet, so there’s still time to tell your Senator or members of that committee what FERC or its rubberstamped pipelines have done, so they can refuse to confirm any nominee who does not vow to turn FERC away from more pipelines and towards sun, wind, and a smart grid.


Photo: Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considered the nominations of (left to right) Dan Brouillette to be deputy Energy secretary and Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to fill vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

They’re also considering a nominee for deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy, which department’s Office of Fossil Energy rubberstamped half a dozen LNG export operations in Florida. You can tell the Senators that you don’t want him, either, unless he will turn to the sun.

You can ask the Senate Energy Committee to go beyond that: it can Continue reading

Sabal Trail slips its in-service request to June; FERC classifies WWALS shutdown request as motion 2017-05-26

They finally admit to FERC the Sabal Trail boondoggle is a month late! And FERC reclassifies the WWALS filing as a motion for all three SMPP pipelines.

Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 26 May 2017, Sabal Trail seeks new pipeline start date; group wants shutdown,

Sabal Trail Transmission on Friday asked federal regulators for an early June in-service date for its portion of the Alabama-to-Florida natural gas pipeline, a later date than it had requested earlier this month.

With segmented KMI FGT JEP to Jacksonville to Eagle LNG export:

On May 17 Houston-based Sabal Trail had asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to start sending gas through the pipeline by today — May 26.

Also Friday, the Georgia-based WWALS Watershed Coalition asked FERC to deny all requests to place the pipeline into service, and said FERC should revoke the permit and shut it down.

The Sierra Club recently asked FERC to delay the pipeline’s operation until after pending litigation is resolved.

FERC has yet to act on either of Sabal Trail’s start-up date requests or on The Sierra Club’s request.

Maybe FERC staff have noticed Continue reading