Update 2018-11-15: Three more Georgia groups make 27: GARC, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, and SELC. Plus slides.
Sabal Trail is already shut down, while the DC Circuit Court delays its mandate to shut it down.
This month 2018-03-01 – 2018-03-09: Graphs by WWALS from Sabal Trail’s own FERC-required Informational postings.
Here’s the problem:
Courts rarely block pipelines, even if regulators are found to have fallen short of the National Environmental Policy Act, and they have never halted a pipeline for inadequate climate review.
It’s long past time to get the clammy grip of fossil fuels off not only Congress and the agencies, but also off the courts.
Desperately seeking loopholes, at 4:58 PM today on a Friday, Sabal Trail claimed “Applicants would face irreparable financial harm,” which is pretty rich for the company that stuck the Bell Brothers with $47,000 in Sabal Trail legal fees for fighting eminent domain from that same FERC certificate the DC Circuit Court is likely to void next week.
It wants to “avoid the irreparable impacts of a system shutdown,” says the company that destroyed world-record-holding soybean farmer Randy Dowdy’s soybean fields. As Randy Dowdy said last May, and Sabal Trail’s own reports then say they have done nothing to correct:
“We’ve got loss of production for the future that will take not my lifetime, Continue reading
Could similar development in the Suwannee River watershed have something to do with the 700-year floods in 2009 and 2013?
Georgia State University, PR, December 6, 2017 Researchers Find Urban Development Dramatically Increases Stream Flow,
…Between 1992 and 2011, the amount of developed land in these watersheds also doubled, almost entirely at the expense of forest land.
In both watersheds, this urbanization led to Continue reading
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,
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
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.
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
Filed today as FERC Accession number 20171120-5130, “Opposition to the incorrect and inadequate FERC Sabal Trail SEIS and request for pipeline shut down by Suwannee Riverkeeper (WWALS) and Apalachicola, Ogeechee, Grand, Choctawhatchee, Chattahoochee, Indian, and Flint Riverkeepers.” (Or see WWALS PDF.)
Date: November 20, 2017
To: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
Re: We oppose the incorrect and inadequate FERC Sabal Trail SEIS
FERC Docket Numbers CP14-554-002, CP15-16-003, and CP15-17-002
On September 27, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) published a draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). That SEIS was in response to the August 27, 2017 DC Circuit Court decision regarding FERC’s previous approval of Certificates of Convenience and Necessity for the three parts of the Southeast Markets Pipeline Project (SMPP), which are the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC’s (Transco) Hillabee Expansion Project in Docket No. CP15-16-000; Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC’s (Sabal Trail) Sabal Trail Project in Docket No. CP15-17-000; and Florida Southeast Connection, LLC’s (FSC) Florida Southeast Connection Project in Docket No. CP14-554-000. The judges ordered:
“The orders under review are vacated and remanded to FERC for the preparation of an environmental impact statement that is consistent with this opinion.“
The draft SEIS issued by FERC is clearly not consistent with the court’s opinion for the following reasons:
- The SEIS is factually incorrect in stating that: Continue reading
Thursday before the storm, Suwannee and Flint Riverkeepers updated on Sabal Trail in Live Oak, about the recent court win against FERC, plus LNG export.
WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman explained Continue reading
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.
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).
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.
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!
The pipeline industry is right to be spooked by what its calls a Great Major Victory that Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper, and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper won against FERC and Sabal Trail.
The very next week after that Great Major Victory involving greenhouse gases: Rob Friedman and Kimberly Ong, NRDC, 31 August 2017 , New York State Blocks the Valley Lateral Pipeline!
In a victory for all New Yorkers, the state has blocked a natural gas pipeline that would have Continue reading