Against Sabal Trail in Savannah 2015-05-21

Like Kinder Morgan and its Palmetto Project through southeast Georgia, Spectra Energy, also of Houston, acts entitled to gouge its Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline through southwest Georgia, taking local lands, causing widespread environmental destruction, and risking leaks and explosions local and state taxes would have to pay for. Come hear about the fight so far against this invader and some ideas on what to do next, 7PM Thursday May 21st in Savannah. WWALS President John S. Quarterman and an affected landowner will speak.

State and local taxes will end up paying to clean up any leaks or explosions from either pipeline: both Spectra Energy from Houston, half owner of Sabal Trail, and Kinder Morgan from Houston, behind the Palmetto Project, tell the SEC every year they don’t have enough insurance to cover major incidents. Push Back the Pipeline, recently convinced Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to oppose the Palmetto pipeline, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, too. Maybe they can help persuade both to oppose Sabal Trail.

Connect Savannah, today, (also on Push Back the Pipeline), Georgia’s Other Unwanted and Unneeded Pipeline,

When: Thu., May 21, 7 p.m.
Phone: 912-961-6190
Price: Free
Where: First Presbyterian Church
520 Washington Ave Savannah-Eastside

The Palmetto Pipeline is not the only pipeline project in Georgia being fought by landowners and environmentalists. John S. Quarterman from the WWALS Watershed Coalition and one of the landowners affected by the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Southwest Georgia will share their experience at the next Sierra Club meeting. Come to the meeting and gain a wider perspective on the untenable push to expand fossil fuel production when climate change compels us to turn to clean energy.

Sabal Trail already sued one landowner family a year ago, and despite vigorous defense and a criminal trespass countersuit, including amicus briefs from WWALS, SpectraBusters, the Lowndes County Democratic Party, and Students Against Violating the Environment at Valdosta State University, that case still isn’t resolved.

So Sabal Trail went ahead and sued more landowners, including a Georgia Centennial Family Farm. Comes to the hearing May 28th in Moultrie if you can, or write a letter to the judge.

For a summary of this unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous invader from Texas, see the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen 2014, #9, Withlacoochee River & Floridan Aquifer: Gas Pipeline Threatens Southwest Georgia Water, Way of Life. It’s not just WWALS’ Withlacoochee River that’s threatened: it’s also the Flint and Chattachoochee, and both Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Flint Riverkeeper oppose Sabal Trail, plus Greenlaw, and in Florida Save Our Suwannee and Our Santa Fe River. Like Push Back the Pipeline largely consists of Riverkeepers, Sabal Trail is opposed by all the directly affected Riverkeepers and similar watershed organizations, as well as SpectraBusters, Inc., a Georgia nonprofit with board members in all three affected states: Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Affected landowners include Ted Turner and former Florida Senator Bob Graham, both opposing a compressor station in Albany, Georgia.

Six counties and three cities along the pipeline path from Terrell County, Georgia to Hamilton County, Florida have passed resolutions against Sabal Trail. Collectively, these Georgia counties include more than 2/3 of the population along the proposed pipeline path in Georgia.

Yet Sabal Trail keeps pushing for a rubberstamp permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Rubberstamp because FERC is 100% funded by the industries it “regulates” and even FERC staffers could only think of two pipeline permits FERC ever denied. Sabal Trail also wants permits from the Georgia Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Division, although in different capacities than for the Palmetto pipeline.

Demonstrations, resolutions, many ecomments to FERC and motions to intervene (FERC docket CP15-17): none of these have stopped this boondoggle. We need more opposition.

Savannah and southeast Georgia may have thought Sabal Trail was far away and didn’t matter: not there’s the Palmetto pipeline. Atlanta may think it’s far away, but, as explained on the front page of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 3rd Atlanta is surrounded by pipelines. Not even just Palmetto and Sabal Trail. There’s also the Williams Company Dalton Expansion Project, and the Elba Island LNG export terminal. Spectra Energy, the Houston pipeline company behind Sabal Trail, almost tried to run its so-called Renaissance Pipeline from Tennessee right past Atlanta to Gwinnett County, Georgia.

If that’s not bad enough, shale gas basins underly most of south Georgia, including Savannah, and northwest Georgia, too. Spectra already bought into fracking in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania; wouldn’t it be convenient for there to be pipelines already in place if fracking started in Georgia?

All this south Georgia pipeline activity is in the fragile karst limestone that contains our drinking-water Floridan Aquifer, already prone to sinkholes such as the ones that leak into the aquifer north of Valdosta, that already caused Valdosta to have to sink its water wells twice as deep.

No domestic need has ever been demonstrated for any of these fossil fuel projects. Fracking drives them all, and the lucrative markets are overseas, as loudly stated by at least one FERC Commissioner, by the head of another LNG export permitting agency, and by members of related Congressional Committees. These agencies have already permitted three LNG export operations in Florida where the Sabal Trail pipeline chain goes. Now Kinder Morgan has also proposed a pipeline across north Florida that would connect Sabal Trail to Jacksonville, where Jaxport is gearing up for LNG export. T. Boone Pickens is the co-founder of one the companies building an LNG facility at Jaxport, and he said to CNBC two years ago:

“The producers have gone out and drilled for the natural gas. They should be entitled to get the best markets in the world, so let them have it….

“Go ahead and move it out and sell it,” he said. “I’d go ahead and let the gas go into the global market.”

That’s right: “entitled”. Nevermind the title you thought you had to your land, or all we citizens thought we had to Georgia’s environment: these self-ennobled lords of fossil fuels think they have divine right to gouge pipelines through Georgia to the sea for export profit.

Georgia is the fastest-growing solar market in the country and a solar financing law has just been signed after unanimously passing the Georgia legislature, there’s even more obviously no need for any new pipelines. Let’s go straight to solar power, plus wind power off the Georgia coast. Solar power is faster, cheaper, and far cleaner to deploy, and brings jobs right here where we need them.

No new pipelines. Let the sun rise on Georgia.


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