Tag Archives: Suwannee County

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, 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!

Valdosta WWTP manned 24/7 with backup generators before Hurricane Irma 2017-09-09

Don’t spill, Valdosta. Don’t leak, Sabal Trail. Hurricane Irma is bad enough already.

Valdosta announced its WWTP would be “manned around the clock”, so I called down there before 8AM this Saturday morning, and somebody did answer immediately. I told him as Suwannee Riverkeeper I was concerned for people downstream who don’t want any spills during the upcoming rains, so I was glad to see it was true they were there. I asked him if they had backup generators. He said yes. Of course, that doesn’t handle every manhole cover. We shall see. Don’t spill, Valdosta! (Or Lowndes County, or Tifton, or anybody else.)

NOAA NHC Rain Prediction, Hurricane Irma, 9 Sep 2017
Currently expecting somewhere between 4 and 10 inches of rain on Valdosta. Map from National Hurricane Center, 2017-09-09 8AM.

City of Valdosta, PR, 8 September 2017, Valdosta-Lowndes County Hurricane Irma Update, Continue reading

#StopETP National Day of Action one day early in Live Oak 2017-09-07

Let’s add #StopETP National Day of Action to our Not so Fast, Sabal Trail: Suwannee and Flint Riverkeepers in Live Oak 2017-09-07.

#NoDAPL #NoSabalTrail canoe
#NoDAPL #NoSabal canoe by Bill Sagues; picture by Julie Bowand on the Suwannee River 13 September 2017.

StopETP Coalition, National Day of Action,

Enough is enough. On September 8th and 9th we’re taking action across the country to #StopETP and defend indigenous rights and our water, land, air, and climate.

Sabal Trail is a partnership of Spectra Energy, NextEra, and Duke Energy. Remember who now owns the pipeline company part of that partnership, Spectra Energy: Continue reading

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.

Kaithleen Hernandez gets a few minutes in court 2017-07-27

The attorney got the judge’s attention for a few minutes, after waiting an hour, then the defendant was sent away until August 8, 2017 at 1PM at the same Suwannee County Courthouse.

Attorney Steven Glazer with Notices

Attorney Steven Glazer with Notices

Here is Kaithleen Hernandez’ attorney Steven Glazer looking puzzled afterwards, because he came for a hearing and the judge said this was Continue reading

Kaithleen Hernandez waiting for her case

Starts at 9am, Suwanee County Courthouse

Rescheduled; details here.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Kaithleen Hernandez case in Suwannee County Courthouse 8AM Thursday 2817-07-27

While many Sabal Trail pipeline protesters’ charges have been dropped, at least one, Kaithleen Hernandez, has a court date this Thursday morning, 8AM, at Suwannee County Courthouse in Live Oak, Florida. She says, “We are not outnumbered, we are just outorganized.”

When: 8AM Thursday, July 27, 2017

Where: Suwannee County Courthouse, 200 S Ohio Ave, Live Oak, FL

Event: Probation case against Kaithleen Hernandez

Suwannee County Courthouse
Photo: Ebyabe, Dual-licensed under the GFDL and CC-By-SA-2.5

Kaithleen Hernandez was arrested in 16 January 2017 at Continue reading