Tag Archives: Law

Ghost company: Strom LNG

A ghost company with no assets, not even an office or the land it claims for its Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction facility, no investment, and no business partners. What reporters from Tampa Bay Times found was even worse than what what we found by attending a Port Tampa Bay board meeting: Port Tampa Bay has no agreement with Strom, and wants none. The reporters’ findings take us back to 2014.

Strom Inc. previously listed an Ybor City building as its physical location, which it no longer occupies. Pictured is the building. [ MALENA CAROLLO | Tampa Bay Times ]
Strom Inc. previously listed an Ybor City building as its physical location, which it no longer occupies. Pictured is the building. [ MALENA CAROLLO | Tampa Bay Times ]

Malena Carollo and Jay Cridlin, Tampa Bay Times, 20 July 2021, A company asked to ship gas through Tampa’s port. Then it ‘disappeared.’
A plan to transport liquefied natural gas from Citrus County to Tampa has activists concerned — even though details are scant.

The Tampa Port Authority’s June board meeting started like always, with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then came the call for public comments.

Most port board meetings feature one or two speakers, if any. This one had nine, queued up both on Zoom and in person. All had the same concern: An April report to the U.S. Department of Energy filed by a fuel company called Strom Inc.

Seven years ago, Strom obtained a license from the federal government and has quietly pursued a plan to move a fuel called “liquified natural gas,” or LNG, from a 174-acre facility in Crystal River to one of Florida’s ports via truck or train. Its April report indicated that Port Tampa Bay has tentatively agreed to be its choice.

The fuel is a form of natural gas that is cooled to become a liquid. It is most often used in countries that don’t have infrastructure to extract and transport the gas form of the energy source. Opponents say the fuel can be dangerous to transport, calling rail shipments “bomb trains,” and should bear public discussion before a decision is reached to move it through a city. That’s what prompted the cavalcade of speakers at the port.

Their questions came as a surprise to port leaders, because as one official told the speakers: Port Tampa Bay has no agreement with Strom. It is not negotiating with Strom. And it has no plans to export liquefied natural gas of any kind.

In fact, much of the information Strom has provided to the federal government about its efforts to produce and export liquefied natural gas, the Tampa Bay Times found, is outdated by years.

Not only does Strom have no agreement with Port Tampa Bay, it has no investors or outside backing, no natural gas supplier and does not own the Crystal River property on which it told the Department of Energy it plans to start building a production facility this year.

“It’s kind of like a ghost company,” said Don Taylor, president of the Economic Development Authority for Citrus County, who years ago worked with Strom as the company pursued economic incentives to build in Crystal River. “They just kind of disappeared, and we never heard from them again.”

There’s much more detail in the article, which is well worth reading.

The reporters even got a response out of the head of Strom, Inc.:

In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, Dean Wallace, Strom’s president and co-founder of its parent company, Glauben Besitz, LLC, called the discrepancies in its Department of Energy filings Continue reading

Valdosta Manhole Rehabilitation lists 2021-07-13

Update 2021-07-16 Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-07-15.

I thank the City of Valdosta for promptly sending their list of manholes to be rehabilitated, and manholes already rehabilitated, both in response to a WWALS Georgia Open Records Act request.

However, I am mystified why neither list includes the notorious spill locations on Mildred Street or Wainwright Drive.

I add up 358,525 gallons of sewage spilled at Mildred Street into Knights Creek in the Alapaha River Basin and 355,875 gallons at Wainwright Drive into Onemile Branch in the Withlacoochee River Basin. Those totals are each since 2015, according to records from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD).

I haven’t added up spills from all the other locations that are on the Rehab lists. I would hope there are not many that have spilled more than a third of a million gallons of raw sewage.

How many gallons does it take to get on Valdosta’s rehab list?

[Current Rehab list; already rehabilitated lists]
Current Rehab list; already rehabilitated lists

It’s also interesting that these lists include for almost every manhole specific street addresses. Unlike the vague “1200 block” addresses Valdosta puts in its sewage spill press releases, and often in its spill reports to GA-EPD.

Speaking of which, despite Valdosta’s assurances that it had reported at least the two biggest spills of July 7th to GA-EPD, there is still nothing about any of those in GA-EPD’s Sewer Spills Report.

Manhole Rehabilitation (Phase 7)

Continue reading

No Valdosta City repair work at chronic sewage spill manhole, Wainwright Drive, Onemile Branch 2021-07-08

Update 2021-07-14: Valdosta Manhole Rehabilitation lists 2021-07-13.

“Doesn’t look good,” WWALS member Scotti Jay summed up the situation at the Wainwright Drive Onemile Branch manhole that spilled yet again in Tropical Storm Elsa. “No lime was put out.”

[Caution, Sewage Spill, Manhole ajar, Wainwright Drive, Onemile Branch, Valdosta, GA]
Caution, Sewage Spill, Manhole ajar, Wainwright Drive, Onemile Branch, Valdosta, GA

This is a manhole at 1212 Wainwright Drive, where Valdosta, Georgia, spilled 37,500 gallons of raw sewage on July 7, 2021, during Tropical Storm Elsa. That’s the same place Valdosta has spilled numerous times before, listing it as 1208 Wainwright Drive, or “1200 block”, including 51,800 gallons 2018-12-14, 166,275 gallons 2018-12-03, 9,800 gallons 2017-01-22, and 90,500 gallons 2016-02-04. That’s a total of 355,875 gallons spilled at that one location.

Is a third of a million gallons of raw sewage not enough for Valdosta to pay attention and fix that location? Will it require a million gallons?

Back on November 11, 2017, Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse joined WWALS on a cleanup of Onemile Branch, including at the bridge in these pictures. He said they were trying to get the number of sewer spills down to zero.

Yet a year later at a Valdosta City Council meeting and then at a SRWMD Board meeting, Director Muse neglected to mention the 218,075 gallons spilled at that location alone in December 2018. In both cases I had to stand up and correct him in public.

SRWMD Board member Virginia Sanchez noted, “You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

When I asked him another year later during one of the Florida dozen-county Valdosta sewage Task Force meetings with the Valdosta City Council when Wainwright Drive would be fixed, Darryl Muse did not recall that location.

Still years more later, Scotti Jay last week observed, “You would be amazed at all the incompetent work being done around the Wainwright location. With no effort whatsoever towards improving the faulty, damaged manhole. Absolutely nothing.”

WS

“Will the City of Valdosta finally repair the most dangerous sewer hole that threatens sewage intrusion. Ask your local government to update the sewer system.” Asked about the sign, Scotti Jay wrote, “it’s just zip tied. But some locations have permanent signs.” Continue reading

Port Tampa Bay has no agreement with Strom LNG, and wants none 2021-06-15

Update 2021-07-21: Ghost company: Strom LNG.

The many speakers against Strom, Inc. exporting LNG through Port Tampa Bay were heard at the Port board meeting yesterday morning. Port staff misunderstood Strom’s filing, but the Principal Counsel made a very strong statement against that or other LNG export or import through Port Tampa Bay.

[Strom, Port Tampa Bay, Attorney and CEO, Panelists]
Strom, Port Tampa Bay, Attorney and CEO, Panelists

In the Port’s own zoom recording, at 01:52:30, Charles E. Klug, Principal Counsel, Port Tampa Bay, said: Continue reading

Right to Clean Water, and four more Florida ballot initiatives 2021-05-20

Water as a human right will be on the Florida statewide ballot this fall, if enough Floridians sign the petition.

Plus wetlands protection, iconic species protection including the manatee, a ban on new or expanded toll roads, and a ban on captive wildlife hunting. As the website FL5.ORG says: Keep Florida Alive, Sign all 5.

For each petition, that’s 222,898 signatures to get judicial and financial review, and 891,589 to get it on the ballot.

It’s doable: there are more than 21 million Floridians.

[Sign all 5: Right to Clean Water, Ban new toll roads, and more]
Sign all 5: Right to Clean Water, Ban new toll roads, and more

FLORIDA RIGHT TO CLEAN WATER

This one is the key for the work of Suwannee Riverkeeper. It would make it a lot easier to stop pipelines, mines, and Nestlé and other water withdrawal boondoogles.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FULL TEXT Continue reading

OSFR kayaktivism at Ginnie Springs, Santa Fe River 2021-05-29

Not a WWALS outing, but we recommend it: Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) is doing kayaktivism tomorrow, Saturday, May 29, 2021, on a mile and a half of Santa Fe River frontage next to Ginnie Springs.

This is to protest the recent ridiculous award of a water withdrawal permit by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) to Seven Springs Water Company (SSWC) and Nestlé or Nestle Water North America (NWNA) or BlueTriton as NWNA is called after being bought by One Rock and Metropoulos. It’s so ridiculous SRWMD is appealing its own decision, in addition to three or more other lawsuits.

Paddle if you can, with signs.

Group of paddlers at Ginnie Springs

For all details about outing, see this OSFR blog post: KAYAKTIVISM Sat. May 29, 11am-2pm On The River By Ginnie Springs Campground.

WWALS has contributed financially to the lawsuit OSFR has brought against SRWMD.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Calling for pictures of swimming, diving, rapids, tubing, water skiing, or surfing, Suwannee River Basin, Georgia

Update 2021-06-21: The real deadline is June 30, 2021.

Calling for pictures, personal experience, or other evidence of swimming or diving in lakes and rivers in the Suwannee River Basin, and evidence of investments in recreation.

[Candidate Recreational waterways, Georgia, legend, Suwannee River Basin]
Candidate Recreational waterways, Georgia, legend, Suwannee River Basin

For a waterway to be redesignated Recreational instead of Fishing, as we requested back in 2019, GA-EPD requires evidence of “Primary Contact Recreation,” which it says is “full immersion contact with water where there is significant risk of ingestion that includes, but is not limited to, swimming, diving, white water boating (class 3+), tubing, water skiing, and surfing.”

Recreational designation would mean tighter restrictions on contamination limits. That should be good for fish, fishing, people who swim, fish, and boat, and for eco-tourism.

Could everyone who has pictures, news reports, or other solid evidence of such activities in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia please send them in. That’s in the Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River, Alapaha River, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, Withlacoochee River, or Little River.

Please use this form:
https://forms.gle/DipPgU2TP5atc2Rf9
If you have difficulties with that, please email them to wwalswatershed@gmail.com.

Also, please send any evidence of investments in recreation along any of these waterways, with dollar amounts, if you have them.

No rush. We thought we had until the end of June, but recently GA-EPD truncated the deadline to May 28th. That’s Friday of this week. GA-EPD has indicated that the end-of-week deadline may be flexible, but please send what you’ve got as fast as you can.

They also applied a bunch of criteria, some of which we were previously unaware of, and tossed out many stretches of the rivers. We asked for an appeal process, but they have not provided one. So feel free to send in pictures and other evidence about all stretches, and we’ll see what we can do with them.

The good news is that still on the candidate list for Recreational redesignation is all of the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River in Georgia, Banks Lake, and Grand Bay Creek and Trail within the Grand Bay WMA. Also included is most of the Alapaha River within the Alapaha River Water Trail, but not upstream from the Willacoochee River, and not for ten miles downstream from Lakeland.

But almost all of the Withlacoochee River is eliminated, except for Tiger Creek (at Spook Bridge) to the state line, and all of the Little River is eliminated. Also gone is Lake Irma, because Continue reading

Eulogy for Christopher Stone: Should Trees have Standing? 2021-05-19

“Nature should have its own voice…,
even though nature can’t speak.
Corporations can’t speak.
Nation states can’t speak.
They hire a counsel to speak for them.”

Christopher D. Stone said that in 2013, revisiting a legal theory he pioneered in 1972.

He died May 14, 2021, and there is a lengthy eulogy. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 2021-05-19, Christopher Stone, environmental scholar who championed fundamental rights of nature, dies at 83.

But first, hear the professor speak.

[Christopher Stone Revisits
 "Should Trees Have Standing?" -USC Gould School of Law 2021-07-30]
Christopher Stone Revisits “Should Trees Have Standing?”

Here is the video by USC Gould School of Law:

He describes a situation that seems eerily familiar:

Walt Disney Enterprises had proposed to develop Mineral King Valley. By develop meaning put in motels, restaurants, and things of that sort. The Sierra Club challenged the permit, permitting this to go on. And the case went up to the Ninth Circuit. And the Forest Service said, look, you don’t have standing, you the Sierra Club don’t have standing. Maybe this is a wrong to issue the permit, but you are not injured, you as a club are not injured.

That scenario is familiar for two reasons.

Early on, Walt Disney World was intended to be in Lowndes County, Georgia, as recounted by numerous local people here who remember when it happened. This actually makes more sense as a location than Orlando, because it would have been next to I-75 and not far from I-10, with easier road access from more of the U.S. population than Orlando. It didn’t happen because Continue reading

SRWMD disclaims responsibility for new Chemours titanium mine near Starke

Much like the SRWMD Board listened to its attorneys and approved Nestlé Ginnie Springs water withdrawal near the Santa Fe River, SRWMD says it has no authority to stop the proposed new titanium mine Chemours wants near Starke, the fifth one in Florida, plus the two or three Chemours has in Georgia, plus the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, all on Trail Ridge, the north-south divide between the Suwannee River and St. Johns River Basins in Florida, and the dam that holds in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

The reporter has a good idea: SRWMD could charge Chemours for access through state property to its mine site.

Meanwhile, FDEP Mining and Mitigation has issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Environmental Resource Permit, which includes contact information for comments, and how you could file a request for a legal hearing.

You can also still ask Georgia officials to stop the other proposed mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp:
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC]
Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC

Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix, 20 May 2021, FL allowing mining of state-owned wetlands has a certain smell to it,

But the region also boasts a multitude of springs, lakes, creeks, and rivers, including the Santa Fe and the famous Suwannee, celebrated in our problematic state song. Overseeing these watery state assets is the Suwannee River Water Management District, which in 2015 spent $3.9 million to buy more than 2,000 acres of forest and swamp near Starke from the timber company Rayonier.

“It seemed like a good purchase,” Tom Mirti, the district’s deputy executive director, told me this week.

District officials figured they could use that land for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects, including creating a wildlife corridor for bears and other wide-ranging animals between the Ocala National Forest and the Osceola National Forest, he said.

There was just one problem: Rayonier kept the mineral rights to the property. Then the timber giant turned around and leased those mineral rights to Chemours. And there wasn’t a thing the water agency could say about it.

Continue reading

Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s positive answer to Suwannee Riverkeeper’s question about the Okefenokee Swamp was covered by the local newspaper of record.

[VDT, Ossoff, Warnock]
VDT, Ossoff, Warnock

You can use the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert to send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asking it to reject the permit applications for that site; such messages will be forwarded to Georgia elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 6 May 2021, Ossoff: Millions for S.Ga. schools,

During Ossoff’s visit, Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman asked about the proposed heavy mineral sands mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge is the largest east of the Mississippi and carries a hefty amount of wildlife biodiversity. The mine could potentially impact the refuge’s native species, basin hydrology and overall integrity.

Continue reading