WWALS adds evidence, again asks FERC to stay Sabal Trail, revoke its permit, plus do a SEIS 2017-06-05


June 5, 2017, Hahira, GA — Citing the sea change of solar power overtaking natural gas in new U.S. electricity last year, and generational damage to the fields of farmers such as Randy Dowdy, WWALS Watershed Coalition today filed more evidence and reasons to stop the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline from going into service and to revoke its permit. WWALS filed the same Monday that Sabal Trail Friday asked FERC to authorize turning on the gas. Plus WWALS explicitly requested FERC do a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to take into account LNG export from Sabal Trail, copious environmental permit violations, and especially new scientific evidence about the Floridan Aquifer.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said: “Such irreparable harm outweighs a few billion dollars spent in error by a few companies.”

And that’s without even getting into risks to education, such as Sabal Trail only a mile from Clyattville Elementary School.

WWALS filed the document today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The WWALS cover letter is included below in this message, and the FERC filing is available online.

WWALS wrote in Attachment 1:

“Solar power has actually more than doubled every two years since 2013. Yet FERC only counts utility-scale solar power. Adding rooftop and community solar panels, already a sea change has occurred.

“Solar power overtook natural gas to produce more new U.S. electricity than any other source in 2016. Solar power already employs more people in electricity generation than coal, oil, and natural gas combined.

“For the amount of money being spent on Sabal Trail, far more solar power could be purchased, and installed far more quickly, without eminent domain, cooling or testing water, or any risk of sinkholes, leaks, or explosions.

“This ascendancy of solar power is a qualitative change since Sabal Trail was first proposed by FPL in 2013. FERC should take this sea change into account.

“This rapid decision of the real market in favor of solar power, so powerful even FPL and Duke Energy Florida are deploying solar farms, fits the requirement for FERC to reopen a case that Sabal Trail quoted in its April 10 response to Sierra Club: “more than just material — it must be a change that goes to the very heart of the case.”

“Because of this sea change at the very heart of the case, FERC should retract its issuance of a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, or at the very least do its own independent investigation of need instead of accepting Sabal Trail or FPL’s answers.”

Quarterman explained:

“That’s sea change as in Merriam-Webster meaning 2: “a marked change : transformation — a sea change in public policy”

“It comes from Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.

“The bells are ringing for the sea change of the world from fossil fuels to sun and wind power.”


WWALS Watershed Coalition
P.O. Box 88
Hahira, GA 31632
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper

The WWALS Letter

June 5, 2017

Ms. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20426
Via e-filing and electronic service

Re: Southeast Market Pipelines Project
FERC Docket Nos. CP14-554-000, CP15-16-000, and CP15-17-000

Dear Secretary Bose,

On February 2, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued an Order Issuing Certificates and Approving Abandonment in the above-referenced dockets (“February 2 Order”) granting Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC (“Sabal Trail”), among other authorizations, certificates of public convenience and necessity.1 On May 17, 2017, Sabal Trail filed a request to place certain facilities into service (“May In-Service Request”).2 On May 26, 2017, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (“WWALS”) filed a request (“May Denial Request”)3 for FERC to stay, stop, or deny that May In-Service Request until the Commission considers vital new information, and for FERC to revoke the February 2 Order. On May 31, 2017, Sabal Trail filed a response (“Sabal Trail Response”)4that glossed over the substance of the WWALS May Denial Request. On June 2, 2017 (a Friday), Sabal Trail filed a revised in-service request,5 asking for authorization by FERC by June 5, 2017 (a Monday).

Intervenor WWALS Watershed Coalition herein supplies further evidence in support of the May Denial Request and again respectfully requests that FERC stay, stop, or deny any requests to place Southeast Market Pipelines Project (“SMPP”) facilities into service; that FERC revoke the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for SMPP issued in the February 2 Order; and WWALS further requests that FERC conduct a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (“SEIS”) that considers all of the critical information and disturbing evidence covered by the six points of the May Denial Request, as augmented herein, and especially those concerns related to the Floridan Aquifer.

Sabal Trail alleges in its Response that: “The items listed by WWALS involve matters already addressed by the Commission’s February 2 Order….“ But the Commission could not have addressed the vital new information and critical evidence in each of the six items in the WWALS Denial Request because that information and evidence did not exist or was not available on February 2, 2016. The Commission should consider all such new information and evidence and stay, stop, or deny any in-service request and revoke the Certificate.

Sabal Trail alleged: “To the extent that WWALS believed that the record was incomplete or in error regarding the Floridan Aquifer, WWALS’ recourse under the Natural Gas Act would have been to request rehearing and ultimately to seek relief in court.” The record did not stop on February 2, 2016. It is FERC’s duty to the people of Florida and of the United States of America to evaluate all the requirements of a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity. When important new information and evidence comes to light after such a Certificate was issued, without waiting for a court order, FERC should consider such information or evidence and consider revoking that Certificate and its February 2 Order.

Sabal Trail further alleged: “…or are claims about activities that do not relate to whether Sabal Trail, FSC or Transco should be allowed to place portions of the SMP Project into service.”

Item 1 is directly relevant to Sabal Trail’s In-Service requests, since Sabal Trail based those on an alleged and unsupported need for new electricity to support peak summer demand in Florida. Items 4-6 directly relate to “Environmental Condition No. 9 requirements for approval of a request to place facilities into service”, which Sabal Trail notes as a principal condition for FERC evaluating an in-service request. Further, without a Certificate SMPP cannot be put into service, and items 1-5 in the Denial Request are reasons why FERC should revoke its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for SMPP, so all six items are relevant to Sabal Trail’s request.

Sabal Trail alleged that WWALS did not supply sufficient evidence about permit violations. Sabal Trail’s own bi-weekly reports, including the one it filed June 2, 20176 supply such evidence, as do numerous other filings, including the 38-page filing of May 31, 2017 by Janet L. Barrow.7 The burden of proof is on Sabal Trail, not WWALS, to demonstrate it has met the conditions of the Commission’s February 2 Order, and Sabal Trail has not done so.

In this letter WWALS responds to specific claims made by Sabal Trail in its May In-Service Request, its Response, and its June In-Service Request, as well as in its Bi-Weekly Status Reports, and its recent responses to Sierra Club. Details are in Attachments 1-6, on 1) lack of need for the pipeline because of solar power; 2) the Floridan Aquifer, 3) LNG export, 4) permit violations, 5) especially egregious violations, and 6) the pending Sierra Club lawsuit.

Sabal Trail wrote in its May 23 response to Sierra Club’s request to FERC:8

“To the extent the May 19 filing can be understood as requesting a stay, the May 19 Filing does not mention, much less meet, the relevant requirements for such a remedy. In assessing a request for a stay, the Commission considers several factors: (1) whether the party requesting the stay will suffer irreparable injury without a stay; (2) whether a stay may substantially harm other parties; and (3) whether a stay is in the public interest.12”

Here are those three factors:

  1. Irreparable injury: Money spent on the pipeline could buy far more solar power, thus FPL’s ratepayers suffer irreparable harm; see Attachment 1. Any LNG export of gas through Sabal Trail constitutes irreparable harm to all landowners whose land was taken for easements through eminent domain authorized by the February 2 Order; see Attachment 2. According to new scientific information the pipeline could inflict irreparable injury to the Floridan Aquifer, which is the primary source of all our industry, agriculture, ecology, and livelihood; these risks do not stop with the end of construction and running gas through the pipe would make them worse; see Attachment 3. Permit violations are far more numerous than Sabal Trail has recorded in its Bi-Weekly Reports; even Sabal Trail admits many of them are still not resolved; and many of them may constitute irreparable harm; see Attachment 4. Farmer Randy Dowdy has suffered generations-long harm which Sabal Trail is not attempting to repair; see Attachment 5. Failure to wait for completion of the Sierra Club lawsuit, combined with the obstruction of justice alleged by Randy Dowdy, would constitute irreparable harm to the public perception of the rule of law; see Attachment 6.
  2. Substantially harm other parties: The only harm alleged by Sabal Trail is temporary financial difficulties by the corporations directly involved in the pipeline project. The public should not be required to subsidize their unfortunate business decision. The utilities FPL and Duke Energy, and even more their ratepayers, will instead benefit financially by abandoning this pipeline project in favor of solar power for the Sunshine State.
  3. Whether a stay is in the public interest: Clearly halting this unnecessary pipeline and deploying solar power instead would be in the public interest, for all the reasons in all six Attachments.

WWALS herein supplies additional evidence and claims and respectfully requests that FERC stay, stop, or deny any requests to place Southeast Market Pipelines Project (“SMPP”) facilities into service, specifically including Sabal Trail’s, until FERC considers or reconsiders the six points from the May Denial Request, augmented herein.

In view of the above, WWALS formally requests FERC revoke the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for SMPP issued in the February 2 Order.

WWALS further requests FERC conduct a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (“SEIS”) that factors in all the new information and evidence covered by the six points of the May Denial Request, as augmented herein, and especially those concerns related to the Floridan Aquifer.

John S. Quarterman
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

Cc: Terry Turpin, Director, Office of Energy Projects
John Peconom, Environmental Project Manager

The WWALS Filing

For the footnotes and the six attachments, see the PDF on the WWALS website.

Or see the filing on the FERC website, as FERC Accession Number 20170605-5011, “Supplemental Information in support of motion by WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. to stay Sabal Trail In-Service request, to revoke the February 2, 2017 Order, plus to call for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, under CP15-17, et. al..”


 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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