The obvious water constitutional amendments passed resoundingly in both Florida and Georgia.
By well more than the required 60%, Continue reading
Two Georgia state constitutional amendments are relevant to clean water, of those on the ballot tomorrow in the November 6, 2018, General Election. And in Florida, vote Yes on Florida Amendment 9, to ban offshore oil and gas drilling.
In Georgia I recommend:
Below is why.
For the title, summary, and detailed constitutional changes, see Continue reading
It looks awful strange when EPA chooses to name and believe Florida Audubon, which agrees with Sabal Trail, but doesn’t even name Sierra Club, when discounting SC’s much larger concerns. Why should EPA, or we, believe Sabal Trail’s “intent” when Sabal Trail’s parent company, Spectra Energy, has repeatedly not even followed federal law or its own corporate procedures?
Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 16 December 2015, EPA reverses course on several Sabal Trail pipeline issues,
TALLAHASSEE — The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has reversed itself on numerous points in opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline that would extend from Alabama across Southwest Georgia and North Florida.
In October, the EPA said in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it had “very significant concerns” that the proposed route posed a threat to the Floridan Aquifer, the drinking water supply for much of the region. The agency also raised concerns about the pipeline’s impact on wetlands, conservation lands, and minority communities in the region.
But in a Dec. 11 letter sent to the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA’s James D. Giattina said the agency had met with representatives of Sabal Trail Transmission LLC and reviewed the company’s comments sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As a result, the EPA has come to different conclusions on several issues.
The EPA’s change of heart raises suspicions for Frank Jackalone, senior organizing manager for the Sierra Club in Florida.Continue reading
“We see no reason to risk local citizens’ property, or taxes, or their drinking water, or any part of the ecology for a profit for a company from some other state,” on WTXL in Florida’s state capital, Tallahassee, yesterday.
Brittany Kleinpeter, WTXL, Tallahassee, Florida, 14 December 2015, Environmental Group is Not Surprised by Judge’s Decision, Continue reading
The judge’s ruling was disappointing, but not unexpected. He found for the Respondents Sabal Trail and FDEP on every issue, even standing. WWALS and others will fight on for the Suwannee River, for the Floridan Aquifer, and for the property rights of local citizens against this pipeline boondoggle.
Indeed, “the project would result in unavoidable temporary and permanent losses of portions of wetlands along the route.” Mitigation somewhere else, not even in the same watershed, is no excuse. Nor does such “mitigation” stop the eminent domain takings of local Florida citizens’ lands, or the bulldozing of a grandmother’s ashes, for the profit of a company from Houston, Texas.
This ruling, with its rather remarkable irregularities, appears to provide additional grounds for appeal beyond those we already knew. The judge repeatedly said in the hearing, and we quoted in the WWALS Proposed Recommended Order, that activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, and scuba diving counted for standing, yet his Order only accepts Continue reading
This Friday, December 11, 2015:
Deadline to comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
The Corps wants comments on cumulative effects, including from local governments and other organizations, as well as individuals. No Corps permit, no pipeline.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sabal Trail pipeline challenged by recommended order, plus Suwannee County resolution tonight
Jasper, Florida, November 17, 2015 — The day after WWALS filed its Proposed Recommended Order (PRO) in WWALS v. Sabal Trail & FDEP saying FDEP didn’t do proper due diligence on what Sabal Trail’s application, especially for the Outstanding Florida Waters of the Suwannee River and the Santa Fe River, the Suwannee County Commission is considering tonight a resolution against Sabal Trail’s proposed Hildreth Compressor Station.
Suwannee County resident Debra Johnson remarked,
“How about nowhere in our county. It’s like who wants this dangerous compressor station in Suwannee County ANYWHERE?”
DEP failed to sufficiently review or verify Sabal Trail’s application, failed to timely place comments from affected landowners in the public record, and disregarded heightened protection requirements of Florida Outstanding Waters. Sabal Trail admitted Spectra Energy is its operator in perpetuity, and that horizontal directional drilling could adversely affect water quality of the Suwannee River, yet DEP failed to adequately consider such effects. DEP professed to be unaware of other potential risks such as crossing existing pipelines, including the Southern Natural Gas pipeline. Springs, fragile karst geology, leaks, LiDAR, and geologic collapse: all insufficiently considered by DEP. Sinkholes, springs, and gopher tortoises pointed out by landowners never examined by Sabal Trail or DEP.
A Spectra Energy executive from Houston deigned to come to “the middle of nowhere” to tell us they’d use thinner pipe in low population areas such as Suwannee County. He testified at length about Spectra’s safety history, even Continue reading
Everyone from the Atlanta Journal-Constition to the Palm Beach Post to the Ocala StarBanner considers the EPA letter to FERC to be of great significance. WWALS agrees, and has filed a motion to ask the judge to take notice in WWALS v. Sabal Trail & DEP.
§ 373.414 Florida Statutes, begins:
(1) As part of an applicant’s demonstration that an activity regulated under this part will not be harmful to the water resources or will not be inconsistent with the overall objectives of the district, the governing board or the department shall require the applicant to provide reasonable assurance that state water quality standards applicable to waters as defined in s. 403.031(13) will not be violated and reasonable assurance that such activity in, on, or over surface waters or wetlands, as delineated in s. 373.421(1), is not contrary to the public interest. However, if such an activity significantly degrades or is within an Outstanding Florida Water, as provided by department rule, the applicant must provide reasonable assurance that the proposed activity will be clearly in the public interest.
Not just “not contrary to the public interest”. For an Outstanding Florida Water applicant (Sabal Trail) “must provide reasonable assurance that the proposed activity will be clearly in the public interest.” The Suwannee River is an Outstanding Florida Water. And the EPA letter is pretty good evidence that Sabal Trail did not provide such reasonable assurance.
Sabal Trail didn’t want to hear that Sierra Club is funding part of WWALS’ legal expenses and they really didn’t want to hear about Spectra’s speckled history of safety and compliance. The Respondents also didn’t expect the WWALS pipeline welder expert witness in this third and last day of the final hearing.
DEP tried to argue their own key applicant process substance person couldn’t qualify as an expert witness for WWALS. A sitting Suwannee County Commissioner testified. A fireman who lives near the proposed compressor station said a few words about Sabal Trail saying one thing and doing another. A string of WWALS witnesses talked about generations of use and enjoyment, joining WWALS because WWALS took in the upper Suwannee as territory, more new WWALS members, WWALS as a Waterkeeper® Alliance Affiliate.
The Respondents rebuttal witnesses were Continue reading