In today’s Sunday April 10th 2016 Valdosta Daily Times:
The Georgia House on March 22nd by an unprecedented 34 ayes to 128 nays rejected easements for Sabal Trail to drill our Withlacoochee and other Georgia Rivers. This was a historic victory by the Georgia Water Coalition, including Georgia Sierra Club, WWALS, Flint Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, plus SpectraBusters, and thanks to all of you who called their state reps.
That same day, the Georgia House passed an 18-month moratorium against petroleum products pipelines, causing Kinder Morgan to suspend its Palmetto Project across the Georgia coast, saving the Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, Satilla, and St Mary’s Rivers. This was national news, especially in financial blogs read by investors, without whom none of these pipelines can happen.
And these weren’t all: a few weeks before, Williams Co. delayed its Constitution pipeline by almost a year, and a month before Kinder Morgan’s Bluegrass Pipeline lost its last appeal in Kentucky. Property rights and the environment, the same when invaded by a pipeline, are winning!
Only weeks before the Georgia House stood up for us, the Dougherty, Colquitt, and Lowndes County Commissions and the City of Albany reversed their previous strong stands against Sabal Trail’s fracked methane pipeline anywhere in their counties or in Georgia, and accepted easements or alleged taps from Sabal Trail. Maybe they all thought pipelines were inevitable. Well, as of March 22nd, we know they’re not.
So it’s time for all those local governments to reconsider, to put rescinding those recent decisions on their agendas.
Or at least they can do what Hamilton and Suwannee Counties, Florida and WWALS just did: ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come see for themselves the sinkholes and springs and underground caverns Sabal Trail didn’t tell them or FERC about.
It’s an election year. Candidates and incumbents, County Commission and School Board, will you stand up for property rights, our rivers, our drinking water, and the children in Clyattville Elementary barely a mile from this pipeline path?
John S. Quarterman, President, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. the WATERKEEPER® Affiliate for the Withlacoochee and upper Suwannee Rivers
Thanks to Sue Lampert for the image. She asked who voted which way. Here’s the complete tally. In Lowndes County, Dexter Sharper (D-177 Valdosta) helped organize and voted nay, and Jason Shaw (R-176 Lakeland) actually changed his mind and also voted nay, along with Jason Spencier (R-180 Woodbine), Sam Watson (R-172 Moultrie), Jay Powell (R-171 Camilla), Penny Houston (R-170 Nashville), Clay Pirkle (R-155 Ashburn), Ed Rynders (R-152 Albany), Buddy Harden (R-148 Cordele), and Patty Bentley (D-139 Butler). I already sent each of them a personalized thank-you letter on behalf of WWALS. Doubtless they would appreciate such letters from as many other people as are willing to send them.
Amy Carter (R-175 Valdosta) and John Corbett (R-174 Lake Park) voted aye, along with Dominic LaRiccia (R-169 Douglas). I also sent them letters, saying thanks for at least listening. Corbett actually called me back before the vote, although he did not change his mind. LaRiccia responded to my thank-you letter with a canned letter on a completely different topic, thus demonstrating he’s not listening.
See this WWALS blog post for contact information for these state representatives in WWALS territory, and where to find it for every Georgia statehouse member. Please do contact your state representative. This isn’t just about a pipeline. It’s about property rights, eminent domain, our rivers, woods, and fields, the water everything here depends on, and our children.
Oh, and the Lowndes County Commission meets 5:30 PM Tuesday 12 April 2016, at 327 N. Ashley Street, 2nd Floor, Valdosta, GA 31601. I’m sending them a letter about all this. Maybe you’d like to come help deliver it.
And that’s not all you can do; see http://www.wwals.net/issues/stt/.
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!