“Apparently, rural lives matter less than urban lives,” she wrote, giving reasons why county commissions such as in Suwannee County should represent their citizens, not pipeline companies from somewhere else.
She sent the whole thing directly, so here it is (I’ve added a few links), along with a link to where it’s published. Lori McCraney, Suwannee Democrat, 24 December 2015, Opinion: Suwannee County commissioners lack resolve against Sabal Trail,
The Suwannee County Commissioners held an emergency meeting earlier this month to finalize a strongly worded letter to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers opposing the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline. I am puzzled as to why its contents was, apparently, a surprise to several board members. The commissioners inexplicably reversed their stance and did not approve the letter. Who got to them in the 24 hours leading up to the meeting?
Commissioners Jason Bashaw and Wesley Wainwright have apparently been given misleading information regarding the Sabal Trail project as well as the future of energy markets.
Pipeline proponents have claimed that the pipeline is necessary to ensure uninterrupted natural gas supplies to a growing Florida population. But the EPA recognizes that the recently completed Southeast Supply Header System is designed as an alternative natural gas source during hurricane-related disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico. These existing pipelines can supply sufficient natural gas to Florida for its future energy needs. This pipeline is unnecessary!
“Natural gas as a bridge fuel” is a concept that was introduced by the American Gas Association in 1981 to counter the growing environmental concerns over the greenhouse effect. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but CH4 is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period. Its fracking methods, transportation, and burning creates unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The “bridge” isn’t short enough.
Proponents have touted the safety of the Sabal Trail pipeline. This belies the fact that Spectra Energy, the parent of Sabal Trail, has one of the worst safety records in the industry. See www.spectrabusters.org/hazards/spectra-safety-violations for links to numerous articles regarding Spectra’s safety record.
According to Alan Lambeth, director of engineering design for Spectra Energy, Sabal Trail will use the thinnest pipe allowed by regulations in rural areas such as Suwannee County. Thicker pipe is required for higher population densities. Apparently, rural lives matter less than urban lives.
Suwannee County has been promised easy annual revenues, to the tune of $2.77 million, in exchange for its blind faith that Sabal Trail will responsibly protect the county’s citizens and natural resources in perpetuity. What if they default on their obligations or go out of business?
Due to political pressure from well-funded industry lobbyists, regulatory bodies are complacent so we cannot expect adequate protection from these agencies.
FPL isn’t simply seeking reliable source of natural gas for its power plants. In fact, FPL is directly invested in fracked natural gas. The Florida Supreme Court is currently hearing a case in which citizens groups are challenging FPL’s right to charge its rate-payers for these investments that may or may not be profitable. Power companies are monopolies that can pass investment risks on to their customers, but keep any profits. FPL is confident it can profit from selling to foreign markets any excess capacities of natural gas created by the Sabal Trail pipeline. FPL could be wrong in its speculation.
Mr. Bashaw stated that the only dissenting opinions presented to the Army Corp of Engineers are from the WWALS Watershed Coalition and non-local petitioners “not affected” by the pipeline. However, natural gas is a global commodity and a potent source of global carbon emissions that affects all the world’s citizens.
The Paris climate agreement, a historic measure to address climate change, was accepted unanimously by 195 nations recently, signaling a swift transition from the fossil fuels era to a future of zero-emissions renewable energy by the year 2050. International business leadersare pushing for a carbon tax, so fossil fuel costs will go up, not down. Influential billionaires such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson are pledging to invest heavily in renewable technologies, fast-tracking their implementation. The world is on a trajectory to end its dependency on fossil fuels for good, as it is now widely recognized that we must address climate change to keep this planet habitable for human beings.
These events are happening on a global scale, regardless of our personal viewpoints or what U.S. politicians and fossil fuel companies would have us believe.
Sinking money into fossil fuels is a dead bet. Fossil fuel interests are frantically pushing infrastructure projects that are doomed to history, and citizens will be left to clean up the mess when these projects are abandoned. Future economic development and jobs will instead be driven by renewable energy.
Our county commissioners begin each meeting with a prayer asking for wisdom in the choices they make. Several citizens have asked that Suwannee County weigh in on the right side of history and do everything in its power to stop this disastrous pipeline project and to support the implementation of renewable energy technologies in the Sunshine State.
They apparently lack the resolve to do so.
Lori is a WWALS member, and she also testified at the October hearing in Jasper.
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!