Florida on front lines against Sabal Trail –Truthout 2017-06-08

Includes details of a demonstration tomorrow morning organized by Sabal Trail Resistance.

Alexis Bonogofsky, Truthout, 8 June 2017, “This State Is on the Front Lines”: Floridians Mobilize Against Sabal Trail Natural Gas Pipeline,

Pete Ackerman, 66, and Kaithleen Hernandez, 21, sit together in a small house in Dunnellon, Florida, with maps and documents splayed out on the walls and the tables around them. They are planning a demonstration for June 9, 2017, which will take place at a large industrial gas compression facility called the Central Florida Hub Compression Station, in Davenport, Florida, 100 miles south of Dunnellon. Ackerman rented the house to serve as an “action center” for those organizing against the large natural gas pipelines being constructed through the southeast United States. They call it the Water is Life House.

Sabal Trail Reunion Compressor Station
Photo: Mark Skogman for WWALS on Southwings flight, 2 February 2017

“The location of the demonstration on Friday is symbolic,” Hernandez tells Truthout. “It’s where the Sabal Trail pipeline hooks into the Florida Southeast Connection pipeline. It’s where they are going to turn the gas on. This compression station is the biggest one along the route. You can hear it for miles away.”

When: 10AM – 4PM, Friday, June 9, 2017

Where: 6525 Osceola Polk Line Rd, Davenport, FL 33896-9315

Event: facebook, hosted by Sabal Trail Resistance (STR)

Later in the article:

John Quarterman, head of the WWALS Watershed Coalition — which advocates for the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little and Suwannee River watersheds — has fought the Sabal Trail pipeline since it was first announced in 2013. He points to many different incidents in which the pipeline company has damaged the environment and the people in the communities it goes through. He documented these offenses on WWALS’s website. The real kicker, Quarterman says, is that the reason the utilities gave for needing the pipeline is completely bogus.

“This pipeline is totally unnecessary and [its unnecessary nature] was admitted to by Florida Power and Light. They stated in their 10-year plan they submitted to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2013 [that Florida needed 13% more electricity in the coming decade, and they used that claim to sell Sabal Trail to the PSC and to FERC. Yet FPL contracted that in its 2016 Ten Year Plan, which said Florida needs] no new electricity capacity until 2024 at the earliest.” Quarterman told Truthout.

The text in [square brackets] is my correction of a typo in the article.

There’s much more in the article, including quotes from Bobby C. Billie, Shannon Larsoe, and Tim Canova. There is an oblique reference to Brooks County, Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy, identified by following the link:

farms have been damaged and destroyed,

Since this is the WWALS blog, here’s the part about a WWALS member:

Cecile Scofield spent years fighting a liquid natural gas facility in Fall River, Massachusetts, in the early 2000s. She was eventually successful. When she moved to Florida in 2009, she never dreamed she would find herself in the middle of a liquid natural gas facility construction boom.

“What no one is talking about is that a lot of these [liquid natural gas] facilities being built all over Florida have no one watching over them,” Scofield told Truthout. “After FERC walked away, Floridians are left with no oversight. No one making sure they are sited correctly. No one making sure they are safe.”

Scofield is referring to a decision made on September 4, 2014, by FERC that was almost completely ignored by the media besides industry publications. FERC issued an order that “disclaimed jurisdiction” over liquefied and compressed natural gas operations that were not directly on the water.

In other words, says Scofield, anything built inland and then trucked or moved by rail to sea for export is now out of the commission’s jurisdiction.

“Ultimately, their decision means that most of these new [liquid natural gas] facilities being built in Florida right now have no oversight from anyone, in the siting, construction or safety,” Scofield told Truthout. “The FERC process wasn’t perfect, but there were requirements, exclusion zones and standards. I could request and find important safety information. I could get a feel for the project. Now, nothing.”

Norman Bay, a former chair of FERC, vehemently disagreed with the decision to “disclaim jurisdiction,” and wrote a scathing dissent. Because of that decision, new inland liquid natural gas facilities have sprung up all around Florida and more are being proposed. Most can be easily connected to the Sabal Trail pipeline. Once the gas is liquefied, energy companies then truck it or move it on trains to a port to be exported.

Although FERC has never turned down a permit for a liquid natural gas facility, without its oversight in siting and construction, Florida has turned into an unregulated mine field of liquid natural gas exports, with small facilities popping up in neighborhoods, close to schools and hospitals, with little to no oversight.

“I’m scared to death. This is a travesty. I expect the government to protect the public and they’re just not,” Scofield told Truthout. “There is no way most of these facilities would pass muster in the FERC process.”

Don’t forget to Call the U.S. Senate Energy Committee about Sabal Trail and FERC violations and ask them not to approve any FERC nominees unless they vow to turn FERC to the sun.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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