Please join the opposition to the Sabal Trail watershed invader –WWALS to SSRWPC

This letter is for today’s Monday 20 July 2015 SSRWPC meeting, at Aniston’s Restaurant, 1404 W. Baker Highway, Douglas, GA. See also the LAKE videos of last month’s SSRWPC meeting. -jsq


Dear Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council,

WWALS Watershed Coalition is the WATERKEEPER® Affiliate representing the watersheds of the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers, which are in the proposed paths of the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline through Lowndes, Brooks, and Colquitt Counties Georgia.

WWALS has long opposed that pipeline from Alabama to Florida, which is funded by NextEra Energy of Florida and Duke Energy of North Carolina for construction by Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas. WWALS is an intervenor against it with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on docket CP15-17.

Please ask FERC to deny a permit for Sabal Trail

WWALS asks the Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council to oppose the Sabal Trail pipeline, which would bring watershed destruction and hazard with no benefit to Georgia. Specifically WWALS asks SSRWPC to send a letter to FERC opposing that pipeline.

Please contact Georgia elected and appointed officials

WWALS also asks SSRWPC to ask Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to oppose the Sabal Trail pipeline just as they recently opposed Kinder Morgan’s proposed Palmetto petroleum products pipeline through coastal Georgia, and for the same reasons: Sabal Trail would bring no benefits to Georgia, only destruction and hazards.

While Sabal Trail, unlike the Palmetto Project, has asked for its main permit as a natural gas pipeline from FERC, nonetheless FERC requires Sabal Trail to get road crossing and other permits from the Georgia Department of Transportation and an air quality permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

WWALS asks SSRWPC to ask GDOT and GA-EPD to deny permits for Sabal Trail for the same reasons as for the Palmetto Project.

Opposition to Sabal Trail is widespread

The County Commissions of Lowndes, Brooks, and Colquitt, and the City Councils of Valdosta and Moultrie have passed resolutions against Sabal Trail, along with other counties and cities in Georgia, including Dougherty and Terrell Counties and Albany.

In Florida, Hamilton County passed a resolution of opposition and successfully, in conjunction with local landowners, got Sabal Trail to move off of the Withlacoochee River in Florida, although Sabal Trail still aims to drill under the Withlacoochee River in Georgia and under the Suwannee River in Florida. (Sabal Trail also intends to drill under the Ochlockonee, Flint, and Chattahoochee Rivers in Georgia, and under the Santa Fe River in Florida, all above the same Floridan Aquifer that underlies all of SSRWPC’s territory.) Florida’s Suwannee River Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have sent letters of opposition to FERC. The Suwannee River is designated as an Outstanding Florida Water. Projects regulated by Florida DEP or a Water Management District must not lower existing ambient wate r quality. This project could lower water quality and water quantity. No doubt SSRWPC has the same concern about the Suwannee’s tributary, the Withlacoochee River.

Georgia Rep. Dexter Sharper (GA-177) of Valdosta has written to FERC opposing the pipeline, as have several other state representatives, and U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop has asked FERC to deny a permit.

The Georgia Water Coalition featured Sabal Trail in its Dirty Dozen 2014 list of the worst offenses against Georgia’s waters as number nine, WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER & FLORIDAN AQUIFER: Gas Pipeline Threatens Southwest Georgia Water, Way of Life.

Also on record opposing Sabal Trail are the Lowndes County Democratic Party, Flint Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Greenlaw, the Georgia, Florida, and Alabama chapters of the Sierra Club, and Ted Turner’s Nonami Plantation near the proposed Albany compressor station, as well as hundreds if not thousands of landowners and other Georgia citizens.

As you know, Valdosta, Lowndes County, and Brooks County are in SSRWPC’s territory. Alternative paths for the Sabal Trail pipeline would also pass through Cook, Tift, and Turner Counties in SSRWPC territory. All these paths would drill under the Withlacoochee River in Lowndes County, in the fragile Valdosta Limesink area that already has sinkholes leaking into groundwater that caused Valdosta to have to drill its water wells 400 feet deep instead of 200. Drilling under the Withlacoochee River, or for that matter anywhere in the karst limestone containing our Floridan Aquifer, risks causing further sinkholes or water contamination with drilling fluids or leaks from the pipeline, in addition to the other destruction of a hundred-foot right of way and the hazards of a 36-inch high-pressure natural gas pipeline.

Lawsuits and Timeframes

Please find attached a letter that WWALS wrote as an Amicus brief on a court proceeding in Leesburg, Georgia in which Sabal Trail sued a Mitchell County landowner to try to get Georgia eminent domain. The attached WWALS letter spells out numerous watershed problems with that proposed pipeline.

Please feel free to attach that WWALS letter to SSRWPC letters to FERC, to Gov. Deal, to Lt. Gov. Cagle, or to GDOT or GA-EPD.

Sabal Trail has since sued at least two more landowners, one in Dougherty County and one in Colquitt County, the latter an owner of a Georgia Centennial Family Farm. The next counties in the order they’re suing people are Brooks and then Lowndes, both in SSRWPC territory.

FERC expects to complete the Environmental Assessment for Sabal Trail in less than thirty days, and could decide on issuing a permit not long after that, so time is of the essence.

Comments to FERC can be sent either online or on paper.

For online, here is a submission form provided by Sierra Club:

Or here is a step-by-step how to for sending a FERC ecomment:

Even better, it is not too late to file a motion to intervene out of time:

If SSRWPC prefers to send its letter to FERC on paper, this is the address:

Ms. Kimberly D. Bose
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426

Re: Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, Docket CP15-17-000

Please be sure to reference that docket number, CP15-17.

WWALS thanks SSRWPC for joining the opposition to this watershed invader from Texas.

Please ask other Planning Councils to do the same, and thank you

The proposed Sabal Trail pipeline would also go through the territories of your sibling Regional Water Planning Councils for the Lower Flint, Upper Flint, and Middle Chattahoochee. Please ask them to oppose Sabal Trail in similar ways.

Thank you for speaking up for the water necessary to all our agriculture, forests, wildlife, industry, and health.

John S. Quarterman

President, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.
a WATERKEEPER® Affiliate
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

One thought on “Please join the opposition to the Sabal Trail watershed invader –WWALS to SSRWPC

  1. Pingback: Videos: MAZ tabled, Naylor Boat Ramp and Sabal Trail CWTBH @ LCC 2015-07-28 | On the LAKE front

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