Tag Archives: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

WWALS thanks FERC for confirming that NFE never asked and FERC never inquired about oversight of Miami LNG facility 2020-12-31

FERC took more than two months to admit New Fortress Energy never asked FERC to say it had no oversight of NFE’s Miami LNG facility, and FERC never inquired.

So, is that facility operating illegally?

[WWALS letter and FERC 404]
WWALS letter and FERC 404


December 31, 2020

Cc: Toyia Johnson
FERC FOIA Public Liaison
foia-ceii@ferc.gov
202-502-6088

To: Ms. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426
kimberly.bose@ferc.gov

Re: FERC response of December 8, 2020 to WWALS Freedom of Information Act Request, FERC FOIA No. FY21-04 or FOIA-2021-4, about New Fortress Energy, Miami, Florida, for copy of PETITION FOR DECLARATORY ORDER or ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE, as well as any responses to either and any records of meetings between FERC and NFE about that Miami facility

Dear Ms. Bose and Ms. Johnson:

Thank you for your response of December 8, 2020, to the WWALS FOIA request of October 12, 2020. Per request from FOIA Public Liaison Toyia Johnson in her cover email to which that FERC response was attached, this letter is confirmation that I did receive that response.

Thank you for confirming that FERC has no PETITION FOR DECLARATORY ORDER from New Fortress Energy (NFE) about its Miami Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility, and FERC sent no ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE about that facility, as well as confirming that FERC has no correspondence nor records of meetings with NFE about that facility

We conclude that because your letter of December 8, 2020, says:

“The search of the Commission’s non-public files identified no documents responsive to your request.”

In addition, in her email communication of November 25, 2020, FERC FOIA Liaison Toyia Johnson wrote: Continue reading

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

Sabal Trail still below gas capacity 2020-04-26

Almost two years after starting to push gas, Sabal Trail still isn’t using all it’s already authorized for, so why does it need Phase II? Why are we still wasting money, water, and air on pipelines when solar panels long ago could have provided more electricity, faster, cheaper, and with no emissions and no eminent domain?

[Operational Capacity 2020-04-26-0900]
Operational Capacity 2020-04-26-0900
Map and data from FERC-required Sabal Trail Informational Postings.

If the point of the Phase II Albany, GA, and Dunnellon, FL, Compressor Stations is to pipe more gas to the Reunion Compressor Station, somebody should tell Sabal Trail the Mouse is closed due to pandemic.

Looks like Sabal Trail’s deliveries got stuck in April. Continue reading

Industry press: WWALS and Sierra Club oppose FERC rubberstamp of Sabal Trail compressor stations 2020-04-23

Sabal Trail is no exception to widespread pipeline opposition, notes a prominent fossil fuel industry publication, especially for the recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to authorize operation of Sabal Trail’s Phase II Albany, GA, compressor station during a virus pandemic. Neither Platts nor the AJC noted the Dunnellon, FL, compressor station was also authorized in Phase II, even though that site already leaked before station construction started.

[Platts: Sabal Trail Phase II Compressor Stations]
Platts: Sabal Trail Phase II Compressor Stations, from FERC Sabal Trail Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Maya Weber, Joe Fisher ed., S&P Global Platts, 2020-04-23, Sabal Trail gets FERC OK to start compression, over green group objections.

The article first rehearses Sabal Trail’s request for a six-month extension and about-face request for immediate operations, which FERC rubberstamped. You can read about that in more detail in the previous WWALS blog post. That post also has details of the WWALS and Sierra Club objections that the Platts article then notes.

[Site Plan]
Site Plan
PDF

Urging denial

Sierra Club and WWALS Watershed Coalition in recent weeks urged FERC to deny the request in separate filings.

“The Albany compressor station would increase air pollution—which has been linked to higher coronavirus death rates—in a predominantly African American community that has ‘one of the highest infection rates in the country,'” wrote Sierra Club attorney Elly Benson in an April 13 letter to FERC, citing news articles. “Now is not the time to needlessly increase the pollution burden on an environmental justice community that is particularly vulnerable to these threats.” She said 84% of residents within a half-mile radius of the Albany facility are African American.

[Aerial]
Aerial
PDF

But here’s a name we haven’t seen in a while.

Andrea Grover, Continue reading

On Earth Day, FERC approved Sabal Trail Albany, GA, and Dunnellon, FL, compressor stations 2020-04-22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FERC on Earth Day rubberstamped Sabal Trail pipeline compressor stations in Georgia virus hotspot and Florida location that already leaked

Hahira, Georgia, April 23, 2020 — “What better way to say they don’t care, than to do this on Earth Day?” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) broke out its rubberstamp during a virus pandemic, ignoring its own process, as well as all the comments and our motion against, to approve turning on two compressor stations, including one in Albany, Georgia, which is the Georgia city worst-affected by the virus, and another at a site near Dunnellon, Florida, which already leaked multiple times even before construction started.”

[Project Location Map]
Project Location Map

Methane from fracking is not more important to push through a Sabal Trail pipeline than the health of local people or even Sabal Trail’s own workers.

Compressor Station from FL 200
Photo: WCJB, of Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station after leak, 2017-08-11.

Quarterman added, “With the price of oil negative and “natural” gas down 40%, it’s time to ask investors if they want to go down with the fossil fuel ship of fools and time to ask politicians if they want this to be their legacy.”

Only four weeks before the FERC approval letter, FERC opened a comment period on a request by Sabal Trail for six more months to finish these same facilities, in which Sabal Trail cited the virus pandemic as a reason. Contradicting its own request, and during that two-week period, Sabal Trail asked FERC to go ahead and approve turning on both compressor stations, which must involve Sabal Trail workers working during pandemic conditions.

FERC did not even mention that WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) had moved to deny, nor any of the numerous other comments against turning on the compressor stations.

For that comment period, FERC required organizations to file again to be Intervenors, and only organizations that were already Intervenors on the process of the underlying FERC docket could do that. The only one to do that was Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS (see PDF). WWALS also filed a motion to halt Sabal Trail’s Phase II (which is mostly these two compressor stations), to deny Sabal Trail’s request to turn the compressor stations on, and to invoke penalties for already being two years late (see PDF). WWALS reasons to deny included repeated previous leaks at the Dunnellon Compressor Station of hazardous Mercaptan odorant, as well as leaks of methane at the Hildreth Compressor Station in Suwannee County, Florida, plus sinkholes at the Flint River near the Albany Compressor Station, the virus pandemic, and Sabal Trail gas going to private profit through Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export, making a mockery of local landowners having to give up easements through federal eminent domain supposedly for the public good of the United States.

WWALS also noted that the only “justification” for Sabal Trail was alleged “market need,” and there was none any more, since oil and gas prices had dropped through the floor. Since then, oil prices actually went negative for the first time in history, and natural gas prices are down more than 40% from only six months ago.

FERC did not address the concerns raised by Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) about leaks, breach of commitment, and endangering commmunities Continue reading

WWALS Motion to Intervene in Sabal Trail request for Phase II extension 2020-03-30

Does this look anywhere near completion to you?

[Facing north (bare dirt)]
Facing north (bare dirt)

Yet on March 26, 2020, Sabal Trail asked FERC to extend the May 1st deadline for its Phase II construction of the Dunnellon and Albany Compressor Stations because of the virus pandemic, after FERC already extended way past the original February 2, 2018, deadline for completion of all phases.

FERC surprisingly did not immediately rubberstamp that request, instead opening a comment period until April 13, 2020. WWALS today filed a Motion to Intervene in that comment process on that request.

Your organization, if it was a party to the underlying Sabal Trail proceeding in FERC Docket CP15-17, can also move to intervene.
https://ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp

Anyone can comment, without needing to intervene:
https://ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp

WWALS Motion to Intervene

See also the PDF filed with FERC as Accession Number 20200406-5070 today, April 6, 2020. Continue reading

How Florida can pick up slack from FERC shirking its LNG oversight duties –Cecile Scofield in TCPalm 2020-01-15

Longtime WWALS member Cecile Scofield in TCPalm, January 15, 2020, Liquified natural gas needs regulation in Florida,

You and a friend decide to go into business together. You draft your business plan and delineate each person’s responsibilities for the operation. But what happens if one of you decides to shirk your assigned duties? Your business venture will be doomed to failure.

[WWALS LNG Export Map]
WWALS LNG Export Map
PDF

This is exactly what has happened with regulating a new breed of inland Liquefied Natural Gas export facilities in Florida. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) outlines each agency’s role in exercising regulatory authority over the siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of LNG facilities. See https://tinyurl.com/tdhxazn.

LNG facilities are regulated, in part, by Continue reading

A Bill of Rights for Nature

Update 2021-01-22: Orange County, Florida (home of Orlando) passed a Bill of Rights for Nature, becoming the most populous local government area in the U.S. to do so; see below.

Does it seem most of the agencies, laws, and rules are rigged for big corporations and against local private property rights, against local fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting, and against organizations like Riverkeepers and Waterkeepers?

[Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, titanium mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River Basin]
Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, titanium mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River Basin.
See also WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

One approach to change that is a Bill of Rights for Nature (BOR), to change the legal structure so rivers, swamps, aquifers, lakes, etc. presumptively have rights that corporations have to prove they are not violating. There are at least three ways to do this: personhood for a waterbody, a Bill of Rights for Nature spelling out specific rights such as to exist and to flow unpolluted, or human rights to clean air and water, commonly known as a Green Amendment.

Examples

First, here are some examples of why rights of nature would be useful.

Example: a titanium strip mine proposed too near the Okefenokee Swamp

For example, Suwannee Riverkeeper is helping oppose a company that wants to mine titanium within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which all of south Georgia and north Florida drinks.

[Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100]
Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

We shouldn’t have to get more than 20,000 60,000 comments sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pointing out that the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge contributes far more jobs (700+) and other economic benefits (more than $60 million/year) to the region and to Florida and Georgia than even the wildest promises of the miners (150-200 as in the application? 300? 350, as they told some reporters?), and the mine would risk all that, including boating, fishing, and birding in the Swamp and hunting around it. We should be able to point to the rights of the Swamp, Rivers, and Aquifer, and the miners should have to prove beyond a shadow a doubt that they would not violate them.

Update 2021-01-22: And then the Army Corps abdicated oversight in late 2020, leaving only the State of Georgia standing between the miners and Swamp with their five permit applications to the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection.

[Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds]
Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds, photographs by Southwings pilot Chris Carmel on a flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, 2021-01-10.

You can help, by asking the Georgia Governor and other elected and appointed officials to reject or at least thoroughly review those permit applications.

Example: the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline

When the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly refused to grant easements for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline to drill under Georgia rivers, Continue reading

AGL pipeline explosion settlement deferred again by GA-PSC for state-wide safety: needs to add LNG 2019-09-19

For more time to examine where gas detectors are needed throughout the state, GA-PSC has again deferred voting on the AGL settlement. As Commissioner Jason Shaw said at the first deferral Tuesday, they want to “make sure that all across the state we can make sure that this type of equipment…” is available.

Plus GA-PSC should take a hard look at AGL subsidiary Pivotal LNG’s Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction facilities and truck and train routes from them to Jacksonville, Florida, especially since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has shirked its oversight duties for inland LNG facilities.

AGL pipeline map, Georgia
Georgia, AGL Pipeline Map, in Homerville, GA pipeline explosion, by John S. Quarterman, 17 August 2018

AGL has pipelines all over the state of Georgia. I don’t know any reason to believe any of them are any safer than the one that goes from my property in Lowndes County to Homerville in Clinch County (and to Moody Air Force Base, to parts of Valdosta, to Ray City in Berrien County, and to Lakeland in Lanier County).

The map above is the newest I could find online. It was last updated in 2008, more than a decade ago. No doubt AGL can provide the PSC with more current mapping data. Maybe the PSC could require AGL to provide an updated map to the public.

The Public Map Viewer by the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration (PHMSA) is no help: it does not include AGL’s distribution pipelines such as the one to Homerville.

PHMSA was sufficiently concerned about the Homerville Coffee Corner explosion that it wrote on AGL’s report to PHMSA: Continue reading

Sabal Trail shakey gas flow and Phase II 2019-06-11

Apparently some people in Albany, GA and Dunnellon, FL were surprised when Sabal Trail a week ago sent FERC “Notice of Commencement of Construction – Phase II Sabal Trail Project Facilities”, which means for the compressor stations in those two locations. But that notice was merely that “bona fide construction activities commenced on May 29, 2019.” FERC rubberstamped Phase II back in January, and Sabal Trail has been reporting on site clearing, gravelling, etc. for months.

[Aerial]
Albany Compressor Station site Aerial from 2019-01-17 STT filing

Meanwhile, Sabal Trail still can’t keep the gas flowing through its stranded asset pipelines. There never was any “need” for that gas in Florida, where Florida Power & Light (FPL)’s customers are stuck with the $4 billion construction bill. While FPL’s parent NextEra Energy never mentions Sabal Trail any more. NextEra brags instead about being a world leader in solar and wind energy.

[All (2017-06-14--2019-06-11)]
All (2017-06-14 — 2019-06-11)

When John Peconom of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) inked that rubberstamp back in January, the schedule was Continue reading