“We’ve got loss of production for the future that will take not my lifetime, not my kids’ lifetime, but my kids’ kids’ lifetime to recover from,” Randy Dowdy
Daniel DeMersseman, Valdosta Daily Times, 5 May 2017, Farmer: Sabal Trail devastated farm,
QUITMAN — A Brooks County farmer said Wednesday the controversial Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline has ruined his farmland.
“We’ve got loss of production for the future that will take not my lifetime, not my kids’ lifetime, but my kids’ kids’ lifetime to recover from,” Randy Dowdy, interviewed by Daniel DeMersseman, Valdosta Daily Times.
Randy Dowdy is a major corn and soybean producer. In fact, he holds a world’s record for soybean production and a U.S. record for corn production but now he says his award-winning farm is in jeopardy.
Environmentalists held a press conference this week alongside Dowdy to say their worst fears about the pipeline have been realized.
“Sabal Trail gouged its pipeline through his terraces on the land he used for those soybeans in Brooks County. Despite his warnings, they left that damage unfixed until rains in January caused massive erosion, washing his topsoil into a nearby creek. Beyond immediate damage, this destruction affects Dowdy’s ability to grow such record yields, and the basic productivity of his fields,” the WWALS Watershed Coalition said in a prepared statement.
Andrea Grover, a Sabal Trail spokesperson, explained that storms in late January combined with unsettled earth from pipeline excavation, resulting in erosion. “A state of emergency was declared for numerous counties within which the project is located, including Dougherty, Mitchell, Brooks, Colquitt, Lowndes,” she said.
Dowdy’s terraces had weathered much bigger storms before Sabal Trail destroyed them, so as usual Ms. Grover’s response does not address the problem. She also told the VDT that Sabal Trail “worked to repair any damage”, which even if true would be far too late after they were warned before the storm. She also claimed “Sabal Trail continues to work with each landowner along the project to ensure the project right-of-way is restored to its previous condition and contours.” It’s not clear to me how referring the landowner to Sabal Trail’s attorneys fits that description.
None of what Ms. Grover told the VDT addresses this basic concern:
Dowdy said the Sabal Trail recovery efforts further damaged his property by mixing topsoil and subsoil.
WWALS has a much longer video which we expect to post soon, of U.S. corn production record holder and world soybean record holder Randy Dowdy, whose record-producing fields were severely eroded in rains after Sabal Trail’s pipeline construction destroyed his terraces. See press release for more background.
The pipeline sponsors seldom show up at these Coordinated Response Exercise meetings such as the one at Rainwater Confernce Center in Valdosta Wednesday, and there was never any expectation that Randy Dowdy would be speaking. They are routing meetings held twice a year, as required by Georgia state law, with a third-party contractor presenting information supplied by the pipeline companies. All long-haul pipeline companies are required by state law to supply that information and to sponsor these meetings, which are held in numerous places around the state, day after day. The specific sponsors for the Valdosta meeting were Southern Natural Gas (SONAT) and Sabal Trail. SONAT did have a representative there, who said a few words about pipelines and dirt roads, among other things. Sabal Trail did not send a representative.
Many states have these meetings, including Florida.
Our thanks to the presenter company, Paradigm Liaison Services, for their hospitality. Randy Dowdy wanted to see if what was being presented was relevant to his situation, so he, VDT reporter Daniel DeMersseman, Sierra Club Campaign Organizer Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter, and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman attended the meeting as part of the affected public. While the information presented was most interesting and important, and I thank all the first responders who were present, it was not directly relevant to the agricultural problem because the presentation was about what to do after pipelines are operational, not about damage caused by construction. See Daniel DeMersseman, VDT, 5 May 2017, First responders attend pipeline safety exercise.
Tom Potter (WWALS Science Committee Chair), Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (Sierra Club Campaign Organizer), Daniel Demersseman (VDT), Randy Dowdy (farmer), photo by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition
We will keep pursuing this case.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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