FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27th, 2015, Hahira — Continuing to oppose the unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous invading Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, WWALS Watershed Coalition will file Friday an amended petition with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL-DEP) opposing that agency’s intent to issue a permit for Sabal Trail Transmission to bore its 36-inch pipeline from Hamilton County to Suwannee County under the Suwannee River in Florida.
WWALS originally filed a petition on August 7th. FL-DEP denied that petition on August 14th, giving a list of reasons and fourteen days to amend. WWALS will file an amended petition at the end of that fortnight, on Friday August 28th. Numerous residents of Florida have become WWALS members, and some will be named in the new filing.
Deanna Mericle, of Hamilton County, Florida, notes,
“Our members receive a sense of rejuvenation being out on the rivers and in the natural environment, including on the Suwannee River. It would be devastating if the rivers were irreparably altered due to the installation of this pipeline. A substantial number of our members would be substantially affected if the springs were degraded, the river flow altered, or the water quality degraded due to the installation of this pipeline.”
Thousands of citizens in Georgia and Florida already oppose Sabal Trail, along with at least one U.S. Congress member, numerous state legislators, and the County Commissions of Hamilton County, Forida, ans Terrell, Dougherty, Colquitt, Brooks, and Lowndes Counties, Georgia, plus the cities of Albany, Moultrie, and Valdosta. Those are all the biggest cities and counties along the proposed pipeline path between the Alabama-Georgia line and Gainesville, Florida, representing well more than 2/3 of the population along that pipeline path. Yet Sabal Trail claims that Dougherty County and Colquitt County want and need its gas!
Sabal Trail provides no benefit to Georgia on its intended gouge through our lands to get to Florida. It provides no benefit to Florida that can’t be addressed faster, less expensively, and far more cleanly and safely through solar power. Sabal Trail’s own figures filed with a federal agency show that half as much land as its pipeline right of way could generate just as much solar power.
WWALS holds the Sabal Trail pipeline is purely profit-seeking by its owners, who are:
- pipeline company Spectra Energy of Houston, Texas,
- utility (and former Spectra owner) Duke Energy of North Carolina,
- and NextEra Energy of Juno Beach, Florida, parent company of FPL.
There is no reason anyone should have to give up their lands, waters, wildlife, or risk their life or limb to profit a few executives and investors from somewhere else.
In Canada, after more than $120,000 in fines to Spectra’s Westcoast Energy for committing almost 30 infractions at its British Columbia processing plants in 15 months, the National Energy Board (NEB) on July 14th ordered Spectra to clean up its “management system failures”, noting:
“The Board expects Westcoast to address safety concerns on a systemic basis, throughout all its gas processing plants and facilities. Based on recent violations described below, the Board is not confident safety concerns are being addressed in this manner.”
That was only eighteen months after the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sent a Final Order fining Spectra for five counts of negligence, corrosion, and leaks, saying Spectra hadn’t followed either federal law nor its own company procedures.
This is only the tip of a thirty-year iceberg of explosions, PCB leaks, compressor station blowouts, property damage, and even fatalities. Just a few weeks ago, a Spectra pipeline blew up under the Arkansas River in Little Rock.
WWALS president John S. Quarterman remarked,
“Not only does WWALS advocate for our own members, we advocate for the interests of the people in these watersheds, and very importantly, for the natural environment itself.”
An explosion would cause death to aquatic species and irreparable damage to underground karst terrain and spring conduits. Species such as Gulf Sturgeon (FT), Alligator snapping turtle (SSC), American Alligator (FT), and and Suwannee Cooter turtle (SSC) would suffer death, loss of habitat, and decreased food supply, which would substantially affect their numbers. This is not an acceptable risk.
Hamilton County, Florida already got Sabal Trail to move off of the Withlacoochee River in Florida. So despite Spectra’s paid staff’s continual assertions that Sabal Trail is on schedule and will be installed, actually it’s late and it can be derailed.