Category Archives: History

Four Freedoms Trail, Madison, FL to Withlacoochee River

Paddling down the Withlacoochee River from Nankin to Mozell Spells, the remains of the Valdosta Railway Bridge mark on the right bank the north end of the Four Freedoms Trail, one of the few hiking trails on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT):

Valdosta Railway trestle
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, 9 July 2016.

The Four Freedoms Trail in Madison County was constructed as a joint effort between Continue reading

Sabal Trail low gas 2017-12-02

Not just one week anymore, more than two weeks: for seventeen days or more than half a month Sabal Trail shipped no gas, and it’s at less than ten percent of its stated operational capacity today.

2017-06-14 to 2017-12-01, Sabal Trail Operational Capacity
Sabal Trail Operationally Available and Nominated Capacity, 2017-06-14 to 2017-12-02, graphed by WWALS from Sabal Trail’s FERC-required online reports.

Also, on October 30th Sabal Trail went down to 14 Million Dekatherms a day (MDTH/day) nominated capacity out of 779 MDTH/day operationally available capacity. Both that and the drop to zero on December November 14th were shortly after Sabal Trail ramped up nominated capacity. Did you bust something, Sabal Trail? Continue reading

FERC Chairman running scared of pipeline opposition

Especially scared of Sierra Club’s DC Circuit Court win against FERC and Sabal Trail. He said the “sea change” in sophistication of the opposition reminded him of the No Nukes movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Maybe he forgets: we won! And solar and wind power are already winning against pipelines.

John Siciliano, 30 November 2017, Washington Examiner, FERC chairman takes a break from discussing coal plan to slam pipeline protesters,

FERC Chair Neil Chatterjee

There has been a “sea change in the identity, volume and goals of stakeholders participating in our proceedings, as well as in the nature and tone of the rhetoric of those who oppose pipeline projects.”

Adding to the national activist groups are the Continue reading

Nine Riverkeepers say FERC’s Sabal Trail SEIS unacceptable; request pipeline shutdown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

Green is Sabal Trail; Transco and FSC in black, SMPP
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: Continue reading

Capt. Henry Will Jones Bridge, Alapaha River, Lakeland, Lanier County, GA

Nobody seems to know the bridge just east of Lakeland has a name: Captain Henry Will Jones Bridge. Just below it is Lakeland Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT). We’ll be going by there in a few months on the Alapaha Quest.

Scott Thompson, Pieces of Our Past, November 30, 2015, CAPTAIN HENRY WILL JONES,

Captain Henry Will Jones

Henry Will Jones was born about 1917 in what became Lanier County just as our country was entering World War I. After Continue reading

Barber Pool, early 20th century

Floridans worried about springs drying up: it already happened to this one. A sad channel with no flow in Saunders Park once was a large and famous spring-fed pool, remembered by many in Valdosta, Georgia, both those who went there and those who were refused.

Flow channel, 15:45:07,, Former artesian spring 30.8288170, -83.3018410 The man who built Barber Pool at that spring on River Street, E.R. Barber, was the first Coca-Cola bottler outside of Atlanta, an inventor, and also the builder of the current home of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. The Barber-Pittman House is on the National Register of Historic Places. That big house on the main drag, Ashley Street, just north of downtown Valdosta, was willed to the citizens of Valdoosta by his daughter, Ola Barber-PIttman.

Here’s what Barber Pool looked like in its heyday.

Slide, Spring-fed

Slide, Spring-fed

Thanks to Continue reading

Agenda: Solar Rocks for the Equinox –Suwannee Riverkeeper will be speaking

Agenda sent by Chris Mericle, one of the event organizers:

When: Saturday September 23, 2017 9am – 5pm

Where: Rum 138, 270 SW CR 138, Ft. White, FL 32038

Event: facebook

Hosted by: North Florida Working Group, Suwannee-St. Johns Group of Sierra Club Florida

Old-style solar mounts, 2006, Solar on roof
Old-style solar mounts on roof in 2006, by John S. Quarterman.

Solar Rocks for the Equinox Speaker and Music agenda

Continue reading

OSHA to WWALS about odorant leak, Dunnellon Compressor Station 2017-08-28

OSHA said it believed the pipeline company, in a paper letter, two weeks after the WWALS complaint about Sabal Trail at Dunnellon.

We did get more information about the actual odorant out of OSHA than we ever did out of FERC, and it’s not pretty:

Hazard statements: Slgnal word Danger

Hazard statements:
H225 : Highly flammable liquid and vapour.
H302 : Harmful if swallowed.
H317 : May cause an allergic skin reaction,
H400 : Very toxic to aquatic life,
H411 : Tox1c to aquatic life wnh long lasting effects.

Supplemental Hazard Statements:
Objectionable odor may cause nausea, headache or dizziness. May displace oxygen and cause 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!

Canceled: Pafford’s Landing Cleanup due to Hurricane Irma 2019-09-08

Everyone is a bit preoccupied right now tying things down for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever observed, so the Outings Committee has canceled this Sunday’s Rivers Alive Cleanup and Paddle Outing on the Alapaha River at Pafford’s Landing. Hurricane Irma may still decide to go east or west, but for a hurricane, better safe than sorry. Depending on the aftermath, we may reschedule for next weekend; stay tuned.

Category 1
These maps are details from New York Times, UPDATED 12:45 PM ET, SEPT. 8, 2017, Maps: Tracking Hurricane Irma’s Path.

Madison to Ocala

Four days ago Florida governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, and Monroe County, including Key West, was evacuating.

Irma is currently predicted to drop from Continue reading