Lowndes County Commission should represent people, not pipeline –WWALS to WCTV

Is less than 50 cents per person in Lowndes County enough to risk drinking water for all?

Noelani Mathews, 27 January 2016, Lowndes County Leaders Vote 4-1 for Sabal Trail,

Interviewing John S. Quarterma, president of WWALS A 4-1 vote Tuesday night has paved the way for the pipeline to run through part of Lowndes County, but some are upset about the Board’s decision.

“They’re suppose[d] to represent the people of the County, not the salesman for a pipeline company from Houston, Texas”, says John Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition.

Three Energy companies want to build the Sabal Trail Pipeline through parts of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

Sabal Trail Transmission is a joint venture of Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas, NextEra Energy of Juno Beach, Florida, and Duke Energy of Charlotte, NC.

There is no video with the story posted, although you can see the reporter her video camera at the SONAT pipeline station on my land in north Lowndes County in the picture below.

Interviewing John S. Quarterma, president of WWALS
Picture of John S. Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. being interviewed by Noelani Mathews of WCTV by Gretchen Quarterman, WWALS Treasurer, for WWALS, 27 January 2016.

This week’s approval comes after Lowndes County passed a resolution against the project.

“They voted a year ago to oppose Sabal Trail”, says Quarterman. “Why were they even considering an easement last night?”

In December 2014 they unanimously voted for a resolution that concludes:

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners opposes the construction of the Sabal Trail pipeline in any portion of Lowndes County. The Lowndes County Commission has concerns with fundamental property rights and does not believe that citizens with small tracts should be forced to lose the use of large portions of their property for the Sabal Trail pipeline. The Lowndes County Commission does not see any long term benefit to the citizens of Lowndes County, The Lowndes County Commission formerly asks the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), and our state and federal legislators to support us in this effort to have Lowndes County and The State of Georgia bypassed.

Back to WCTV:

Chairman Bill Slaughter, with the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners says, “We still feel the same way about the pipeline as we did two years ago. However, also being realistic, if the Federal Energy Regulation Commission grants this certificate and they get the documentation they need to move forward, the pipeline will continue to come through as they had it surveyed.”

Actually, two years ago, 24 February 2014, is when Slaughter said:

The county, there’s very little we can do. We’re just in the same situation that you’re in as a property owner….

This was to a local landowner after he refused to let a local landowner speak during a Commission meeting because she didn’t get there in time to fill out a form before the meeting. Nevermind he had previously let pipeline company representatives speak without filling out any paperwork or even coming up to the podium. Yes, what he said Tuesday does sound like what he said two years ago. But not like what he wrote in that resolution the entire Commission passed one year ago. What he said Tuesday doesn’t even sound like the letter he filed with FERC 11 April 2014 in which he wrote:

“…as Chairman of the Lowndes County Commission and on the behalf of the Commission and Citizens of Lowndes County….”

Instead, Tuesday he reverted to there’s nothing we can do and you’re on your own. Nevermind there are things he and the Commission can do, including more of what he wrote at the end of that resolution:

“The Lowndes County Commission formerly[sic] asks the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), and our state and federal legislators to support us in this effort to have Lowndes County and The State of Georgia bypassed.”

Back to WCTV:

The local Watershed Coalition is worried because the trail will run near the Floridian Aquifer system — and through a closed landfill.

“It is not going through the actual closed portion of the landfill”, explains Chairman Slaughter. “It’s going through the inert portion of the landfill.”

The entire parcel the pipeline would go through is listed the Hazardous Site Inventory of the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection as having levels of mercury too high, as well as a long list of other toxic chemicals. Where is the evidence that the pipeline route isn’t affected by those chemicals? Where is any evidence of anything from Tuesday’s meeting? The pipeline item was added to the agenda earlier that same day, didn’t even name Sabal Trail, and whatever was in the board packet about it was not available to the public. The Chairman referred to a “process”. The public saw no process, as at the end of the Commission meeting Tuesday. The public does not get to speak before the Commission votes, except in public hearings, and no public hearing was scheduled for this vote.

Back to WCTV:

That property isn’t the only one in Lowndes making way for the project.

County leaders say so far, 59 other properties have given the pipeline permission to use their land and five properties remain.

“If you hold out, if you make them apply eminent domain, you’ll get a far better offer”, says Quarterman. “If more people do that, it will make it more likely that the pipeline will not happen at all.”

I also explained to the reporter that the County Commission is basically different from other landowners, because it is supposed to represent all the citizens of teh county, and it has financial, political, and legal resources that most citizens do not.

Lowndes County will receive more than $50,000 as compensation for the land.

Actually, $54,300, according to the motion they approved at the Tuesday Commission meeting.

WWALS Treasurer Gretchen Quarterman points out the population of Lowndes County population is 112,916, so that works out to 48 cents per person. She wonders is a one-time payment of less than 50 cents per person enough to risk the county’s drinking water?


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3 thoughts on “Lowndes County Commission should represent people, not pipeline –WWALS to WCTV

  1. Pingback: Videos: Sold out to Sabal Trail @ LCC 2016-01-26 | On the LAKE front

    1. jsq Post author

      This is Lowndes County, Georgia, population about 113,000. Which is no excuse for what the County Commission did. -jsq

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