See also Press Releases.
News Stories about WWALS
Molly Minta, The Fine Print, 5 February 2017,
Rise Against the Machine:
In 2013, Marion County residents began to receive letters from Sabal Trail Transmission. Now, they’ve made it their mission to save their land, and stop Sabal Trail.
But those opposed to the pipeline don’t just have to take on corruption at the state level. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that granted Sabal Trail eminent domain and which oversees interstate pipeline projects, is supposed to regulate the natural gas industry and hold the companies accountable. Activists, however, contend that it does just the opposite.
“The whole system is corrupt from top to bottom,” said John Quarterman, president of the WWALS Watershed Coalition, which stands for the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little and Suwannee rivers. He said that though FERC receives money from Congress every year, it’s self-funding, which means that it is authorized by the government to collect annual fees from the industries it regulates. FERC is the only independent executive agency in the United States with this kind of authority. In essence, Quarterman said, the agency is susceptible to being bought out by the natural gas industries.
“The word you’re looking for starts with ‘c,’ as in corrupt,” Quarterman said. “The polite way of saying it is ‘regulatory capture.’”
FERC isn’t just authorized to collect annual fees, it brags in its annual budget request that it does pay back 100% of its Congressional allocation from fees and charges on the industries it supposedly regulates. This is the wording in FERC’s 2017 budget request:
As authorized by statute, including the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, the Commission recovers the full cost of its operations through annual charges and filing fees assessed on the industries it regulates. This revenue is deposited into the Treasury as a direct offset to its appropriation, resulting in no net appropriation.
- John S. Quarterman, Tallahassee Democrat op-ed, 29 January 2017, Quarterman: Sabal Trail pipeline already damaging our area
- Terry Richards, Valdosta Daily Times, 11 January 2017 (WWALS blog post), Sabal Pipeline protest meeting planned
John S. Quarterman, Valdosta Daily Times op-ed 8 January 2017,
Solar power versus Sabal Trail –Suwannee Riverkeeper in VDT 2017-01-08
- Richard Luscombe, The Guardian, 24 January 2017 (WWALS blog post), Why a protest camp in Florida is being called the next Standing Rock: At first glance the quiet town of Live Oak seems an unlikely venue for a stand against Big Energy. But in recent weeks it’s become a centre of opposition
- Adam Dubbin, World Waters Weekly, 30 December 2016 (WWALS blog post),
…breaking news, if you will. John S. Quarterman has been selected as the Suwannee Riverkeeper. If you’re not familiar with the Riverkeeper role, it’s part of a bigger organization called the Waterkeeper Alliance. It’s a sort of, it’s a way to formalize the care of these rivers, and also these people are river warriors, out there documenting things and providing the type of information we need to know if somebody is not in compliance or if something is not right. They basically are boots on the ground.
I have not met John personally, but I have interacted with him a lot and I’ve read a lot of his work. He runs WWALS Watershed Coalition webpage which is extremely informative; very well-vetted information and I use it a lot when I am trying to clarify things. So this guy he’s a great addition to what we’re trying to do here. Well, not an addition; he’s been here all along, but he’s now been given an official role on the Suwannee River. So I just want to send a shout-out to him and let you all know that river is now in good hands.
- Thomas Lynn, Valdosta Daily Times, 16 December 2016, Pipeline protests gain momentum in Florida,
- John S. Quarterman, Citrus County Chronicle, other voices, 25 December 2016, Stop gas pipeline; invest in solar (WWALS blog post with illustrations and links to evidence)
Sabal Trail and FDEP assured us there would be no problems drilling a 36-inch natural gas pipeline through the fragile karst limestone under the Suwannee River and the Withlacoochee (south) River in Florida, yet already Sabal Trail’s pilot hole under the Withlacoochee (north) River in Georgia caused a frac-out of drilling mud into the river and a sinkhole. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should halt construction and do a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
- Larry Buhl, DeSmogBlog (and Enjeux énergies et environnement), 9 December 2016, Sabal Trail Opponents Say Pipeline Is Part of Florida’s ‘Overbuilt’ Gas Infrastructure, (WWALS blog post)
John Quarterman, president of [… WWALS] Watershed Coalition, recalled that Sabal Trail representatives, when pressed at public hearings, maintained that, as a pipeline company they had no idea where gas going through their pipes might end up, a claim that he and other activists find hard to believe.
Chris Pedersen, writing for the industry publication OilPrice.com in October 2014, wrote that Transco and Sabal Trail pipelines could be used to explore new overseas markets for Utica and Marcellus Shale gas.
Sabal Trail opponents say gas flowing through the Sabal Trail pipeline could easily end up at export terminals on the Florida coast. For example,…
- Savannah Elliott, Gainesville Scene, 14 December 2016, Organization Against Sabal Trail Pipeline Swells Across Florida
- Sabal Trail Resistance, Earth First!, 13 December 2016, Stop The Suwannee River Crossing! Calling all water protectors and anti-pipeline rebels to the Sabal Trail Resistance (STR),
Additionally, the HDD site on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, which is also currently being drilled, has been found in violation for pressure cracks that allowed drilling fluid to migrate upward into the river and likely into the Floridan Aquifer to contaminate the water.
600×450 Turbidity curtains with human for scale (Chris Mericle), in Sabal Trail still leaking drilling mud into the Withlacoochee River in GA, by Deanna Mericle, 12 November 2016
- Anne Schindler, WTLV, 5 December 2016: “Sinkhole raises collapse concerns at pipeline drilling site”,
The company says the sinkhole, which appeared Nov. 5, has nothing to do with the Nov. 17 incident, in which drilling mud penetrated the Withlacoohee River from operations below.
“The two items you referenced are unrelated,” spokesperson Andrea Grover said in a written statement. “The sinkhole is in an upland and approximately 1,400 feet from the previously reported inadvertent release.”
Doesn’t Sabal Trail’s $3 billion dollar pipeline connect those two items?
- 2016-12-04: Larry Buhl, DeSmogBlog, 4 December 2016, Critics Call $3 Billion Sabal Trail Pipeline Florida’s Dakota Access Pipeline (WWALS blog post: National coverage of Sabal Trail as Florida’s DAPL: #NoDAPL, #NoSabalTrail, #WaterIsLife)
- 2016-12-03: Harriet Heywood, Citrus County Chronicle, 3 December 2016, Sabal Trail forum was informative (WWALS blog post)
- Karen Edelstein, FracTracker, 29 November 2016, The Sabal Trail Pipeline: A Sinking Feeling,
Even in the phases of construction, environmentalists in Georgia discovered that the Sabal Trail pipeline had started leaking drilling mud from a pilot hole into the Withlacooche River in late October, and continued to ooze turbid mud for at least three weeks. Environmental advocates from the WWALS … Watershed Coalition raised concerns that if a pilot hole could cause such a leakage, what could happen once full-scale directional drilling was occurring?
- Michael D. Bates, Citrus County Chronicle, November 26, 2016, “In the pipeline,”
“the project is proceeding as scheduled” and “We are on target for an end-of-June in-service date…”
Hm, that’s a month after their previous May 2017 in-service date.
- Derrek Vaughn, Valdosta Daily Times, 17 November 2016, WWALS Watershed Coalition hold demonstration (WWALS blog post),
“Demonstrators gathered to protest the Sabal Trail pipeline and participate in the “Dirty Dozen” waterways conference call.”
WWALS Watershed Coalition sponsored the demonstration.
Members and demonstrators met in the median of Highway 84 at the Withlacoochee River Bridge to listen to the Georgia Water Coalition’s “Dirty Dozen 2016” conference call.
- Georgia Water Coalition, Waterkeeper Alliance, 17 November 2016, “Dirty Dozen” Calls Out Most Threatened Waters in Georgia,
Written by Georgia Water Coalition, a group of more than 230 organizations including Altamaha Riverkeeper, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Chattachoochee Riverkeeper, Flint Riverkeeper, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Satilla Riverkeeper, Savannah Riverkeeper, St. Marys Riverkeeper, and WWALS Watershed Coaltion, a Waterkeeper Affiliate.
Georgia’s leading water coalition named its “Dirty Dozen” for 2016, highlighting 12 of the worst offenses to Georgia’s waters. The annual Dirty Dozen shines a spotlight on threats to Georgia’s water resources. It also highlights the polluters and state policies or failures that threaten the health and safety of Georgia’s waters. Nine Riverkeepers and Affiliates are members of the Georgia Water Coalition.
“This year’s report highlights the real, human costs of dirty energy production in Georgia’s communities,” said Joe Cook, Advocacy and Communication Coordinator for Coosa River Basin Initiative. “Toxic chemicals from coal plants are showing up in groundwater wells and in our rivers while risky proposals for transporting and extracting gas and oil threaten water supplies, wildlife and property rights.”
- Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 17 November 2016, Sabal Trail spill, protests across U.S. spur debate over natural gas pipeline in Florida,
TALLAHASSEE — Environmentalists are raising concerns over a drilling mud discharge last month from a natural gas pipeline being dug under the Withlacoochee River in Georgia that could damage the river and downstream springs in Florida.
The criticisms come as Native Americans have drawn national attention to their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and 14 people protesting the pipeline in Florida were arrested Saturday in Gilchrist County of disorderly conduct and other charges.
Sabal Trail Tranmission company officials said the discharge in the Withlacoochee River was cleaned up as they installed a floating yellow turbidity curtain, similar to an oil spill boom, to prevent the spread of two gallons of drilling mud. The river flows into Florida 15 miles downstream and eventually into the Suwannee River.
The Georgia Water Coalition on Wednesday listed the Sabal Trail pipeline on its annual “dirty dozen” list of threats to rivers in the state. Several of those rivers, including the Chattahoochee, Flint and Withlacoochee rivers, eventually flow into Florida.
John Quarterman of the WWALS Watershed Coalition environmental group in Georgia said the public was told such accidents were not possible.
“So what else can happen that they said couldn’t happen?” Quarterman asked. “And why should we take that risk or any risk for this pipeline that has never been of any benefit to the state?”
- Ashlyn Becton, WALB, 16 November 2016, Environmentalist raise awareness about Sabal Trail Pipeline (WWALS blog post),
Folks from North Florida and South Georgia held a protest at the Withlacoochee River Wednesday and listened to a news conference announcing the Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen.
The report highlights the worst offenses and greatest threats to Georgia’s bodies of water.The 3.2-billion dollar Sabal Trial pipeline will pass through nine south Georgia counties, and water coalition members are not happy about it.
“There is no excuse for this pipeline and it is massively destructive,” said John Quarterman.
Quarterman is the president of the WWALS Watershed Coalition out of Hahira.
That group has fought the pipeline since it was announced in 2013, including a 4-month legal challenge.
“Sabal Trail told us in a legal case in Florida that we would never, it couldn’t happen that drilling would cause things to bubble up in the area. It happened right over there just 2,000 feet up stream,” said Quarterman.
- Nick Evans, WUSF, 14 November 2016, Drilling Mud Leak In South Georgia Raises New Sabal Trail Pipeline Concerns (WWALS blog post)
Water activists are raising the alarm over a South Georgia drilling leak in the Withlacoochee River. Sabal Trail is drilling beneath the river to build a more than 500-mile natural gas pipeline stretching from Alabama to Florida.
WWALS Watershed Coalition works to protect….
- Steve Patterson, Jacksonville.com, 14 November 2016, Gas pipeline project headed to Suwannee River leaks into Georgia waterway; sparks environmental worries (WWALS PR),
A leak in the shaft for a natural gas pipeline beneath a Georgia river has reinforced environmental worries at Florida’s Suwannee River and other waterways in the pipeline’s path.
The leak into the Withlacoochee River near Valdosta, Ga. underscored earlier concerns about twin hazards from the Sabal Trail pipeline: that pipeline shafts could leak contaminants into rivers, and let river water escape through cracks in the area’s sinkhole-riddled bedrock.
“What they said couldn’t happen did happen,” said John Quarterman, president of the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., a group fighting work on the 515-mile pipeline planned to cross three states.
- Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, 22 October 2016, Sabal Trail Under Construction (WWALS blog post),
John Quarterman of WWALS organized and executed today Oct. 22, 2016 a flight along the Sabal Trail construction zone along the Suwannee basin. Flight covered was from the Santa Fe River crossing south of Branford to Moultrie, Georgia. Corridor covered from Suwannee, Hamilton in Florida to Lowndes, Brooks and Colquitt Counties in Georgia.
Hats off to John Quarterman for the organizing, research and execution, and also to Roy Zimmerman, volunteer pilot from Deland who gave his time, use of aircraft and aviation gas. Additional crew was Dominic Gheesling, professional photographer and your historian from OSFR. Look for the well-researched, heavily-documented, link-laden WWALS post soon to come out. Thank you John, for this opportunity.
- Thomas Lynn, Suwannee Democrat, 18 October 2016, Sabal Trail protesters camp outside pipeline route (previous WWALS blog post),
“This company has been given free range to do anything they want,” Jipson said. “There’s no oversight at all.”
She mentioned that Sabal Trail was granted a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission based on a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) completed by the company. Many other protest groups have criticized the EIS as inaccurate and deceptive.
Along with the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Malwitz-Jipson has fought to have the Army Corps of Engineers do its own EIS with little success.
The protesters are working on growing their numbers and plan on staying at the encampment for as long as they can.
- Desiree Carver, Valdosta Daily Times, Friday, September 23, 2016, front page, Sabal protests continue (LAKE blog post),
The WWALS Watershed Coalition stood on the bridge between Brooks and Lowndes County Saturday to show solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline opponents in Dakota and to continue its battle against the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline.
According to a release from WWALS, the stance was to “help demand the Army Corps reevaluate its permit for Sabal Trail just like its permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
- Gloria Tatum, Atlanta Progressive News, 12 September 2016, Proposed SabaL Gas Pipeline runs through aquifer, wetlands, sinkhole territory (WWALS blog post),
“This is the last gasp of the dying fossil fuel industry….now that there are more solar power jobs than in all of oil and gas extraction,” John Quarterman, President of … WWALS Watershed Coalition in south Georgia and north Florida, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“Solar is the least expensive of all power sources, does not require three years to permit it, doesn’t require eminent domain, and [you] can install a big solar plant in a few months,” Quarterman said….
“We are taking risks with our sole source of drinking water,” Quarterman said.
“What we are seeing is short-term profiteering at the expense of our water, our environment, and our property rights,” Quarterman said.
- Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun, 14 August 2016, In north Florida, the pipeline will run through conservation areas, under rivers, near springs, and sinkhole-vulnerable karst geological areas,
With permits in hand, the companies behind Sabal Trail applied to FERC to start construction on or before Aug. 17. FERC already approved the pipeline project in February and now is looking at whether the companies behind Sabal Trail met all conditions of that approval before green-lighting construction.
In an email, Spectra Energy spokeswoman Andrea Grover gave a target date of “late August” to start construction. She said the more than 500-mile route will be divided into five segments and construction on each will start simultaneously.
The company is engaged in authorized pre-construction activities such as surveys and gopher tortoise trapping and relocation, Grover wrote.
Already, pipe is being stored in an area north of Lake City, a fact made public by the WWALS Watershed Coalition, a south Georgia and north Florida group opposed to the pipeline project. The group argued that the storage yard was not an allowed pre-construction activity.
Grover wrote that a transportation contractor leased the storage yard to move “the pipe from the pipe mill to a location closer to the project to temporarily store pipe.”
The Army Corps of Engineers did not grant a request from the Madison County Commission in north Florida to further review potential environmental impacts of Sabal Trail’s main line, including “a site inspection to determine the actual proximity of active sinkholes and other features of the aquifer and cave systems to the proposed pipeline route,” records posted on the WWALS Watershed Coalition Web site showed.
Madison County commissioners noted that the pipeline passes through neighboring Hamilton County near the Withlacoochee River and expressed concerns about potential pollution to the river, area wells and Madison Blue Spring, either from construction or a possible pipeline leak later.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declined the commission’s request, saying information already gathered about the project is sufficient for them to make an accurate evaluation.
- Jim Tatum, OSFR, 11 August 2016, Unusual Meeting in Live Oak — Some Success (WWALS blog post),
An unusual meeting today, Tuesday, August 9, 2016 at the Live Oak headquarters of SRWMD. Unusually long, as it continued well into the afternoon after lunch. The reason for this was that the public comment did not finish until almost 12 o’clock. And the reason for that, was that a large group from Gainesville, Fort White, Madison, Hamilton County, and Valdosta, GA came to express their concerns to the governing board.
No fewer than 11 people spoke, mostly against the pipeline company which has pushed relentlessly into Florida and run roughshod over landowners, falsified its reports to FERC and brazenly trucked its pipe illegally into Florida before obtaining the required permit.
A measure of success was attained today when Chairman Quincey, with approval of Executive Director Noah Valenstein, announced that the board would write a letter of concern to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Sabal Trail controversy over the inaccurate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS.)
- Thomas Lynn, Suwanee Democrat, 7 July 2016, Residents voice concern for Sabal Trail grant,
Before and after the board voted, concerned citizens spoke against the board taking any money. Sabal Trail is a controversial topic due to the proposed pipeline that would cut through Suwannee County and the Suwannee River.
The proposed route of the pipeline has come under scrutiny from various watershed groups including the … [WWALS] Watershed Coalition.
Jake Galvin and Dan Christensen, Florida Bulldog, 28 June 2016, Push to block Sabal Trail gas pipeline looks to enlist U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
In an escalating effort to block the controversial Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, opponents are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to examine allegations that information about potential environmental hazards was overlooked during the regulatory process….
The WWALs Watershed Coalition, whose name is an acronym for the watersheds of the Withlachoochee, Willacooche, Alapaha, Little and Upper Suwannee rivers, has spearheaded environmental opposition to Sabal Trail.
- Maryvonne Devensky, Gainesville Sun, 24 April 2016, Maryvonne Devensky: Pipeline can still be reconsidered,
The Sabal Trail pipeline project is not a done deal. Since January, there has been a momentum in Georgia and Florida to oppose this natural gas pipeline from citizens, officials and environmental groups because of very serious concerns.
Members of the Suwannee St Johns Sierra Club and [WWALS] … Watershed Coalition led a hike in the Suwannee River State Park to show how the area tagged for construction is full of sinkholes and how the Sabal Trail documentation is flawed. Johanna deGraffenreid, wetlands advocate with the Gulf Restoration Network, is coordinating efforts to make sure the public and our elected officials have the right information on the Sabal Trail project.
- Michael Praats, Valdosta Daily Times, 20 April 2016, BOC Chairman: Sabal Trail vote not endorsement,
VALDOSTA—The proposed Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline has some residents concerned with property values, environmental impact and a plethora of other issues. John Quarterman, speaking on behalf of the WWALS Watershed Coalition, has requested the county rescind its Sabal Trail agreement and stop the sale of easements to Spectra Energy.
Quarterman is leading the charge to prevent pipeline construction and publicly opposed a decision by the Lowndes County Commission to sell the easements.
- Adam Floyd, posting SpectraBusters PR, including a link to the PDF flyer, ValdostaToday, 19 April 2016, OPINION: Short-term jobs are not worth long-term Sabal Trail risk,
LIVE OAK, Fla. — Local residents and half a dozen environmental organizations want applicants at Sabal Trail pipeline job fairs to know a job for a few weeks isn’t worth risking drinking water for all our families and children and grandchildren.
Opponents of the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline and supporters of solar power include the Suwannee-St Johns Sierra Club Group, St Johns Riverkeeper, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Our Santa Fe River, Earth Ethics, Gulf Restoration Network, and SpectraBusters.
- John S. Quarterman, Valdosta Daily Times, 10 April 2016, Thanks for a historic victory against Sabal Trail,
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….
- Nadia Steinzor, Earth Island Journal, in Truthout, 9 April 2016, Darkening Drillers’ Hopes in the Sunshine State,
Like everywhere else, fighting oil and gas in Florida increasingly means taking on big pipeline projects. The biggest and most hotly contested of all is the Sabal Trails Transmission Pipeline, proposed to run over 500 miles from Alabama through Georgia to Florida, and include at least five compressor stations along the way. The gas would be used to generate electricity and supply industries through two utility companies, Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy of Florida. The Sabal Trails Pipeline, which would cross numerous conservation areas, wetlands, rivers, and aquifers, has engendered strong resistance from watershed protection groups [WWALS], environmental advocates [Sierra Club], and residents [SpectraBusters] along the proposed route.
- John S. Quarterman, WWALS blog, 6 April 2016, Suwannee BOCC votes 4:1 to ask Army Corps of Engineers to investigate Sabal Trail 2016-04-05,
Yet Florida law requires citizens to be able to speak, and local landowner Wayne Ellison was first to the podium, saying he most definitely was still opposed to the pipeline, since Sabal Trail wants to run it through his cow pasture full of sinkholes, and what would become of his cows?
Also speaking were Debra Johnson of Suwannee County and SpectraBusters, Jim Tatum for Our Santa Fe River, Chris Mericle of Hamilton County and a WWALS board member, and John S. Quarterman, WWALS president. All five speakers are WWALS members. Suwannee County takes its own video, so in a few days you will be able to see everything we said.
- Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, 5 April 2016, Suwannee Co. BOCC Votes to Send Letter to Army Corps of E. noting Sabal Discrepencies,
Tonight, April 5, 2016, the Suwannee County board of commissioners voted to send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers expressing their concerns regarding the study for the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline. As outlined in our post “Has Sabal Trail Withheld Vital Information?,” another geological study done by someone not paid by Sabal returned very different conclusions.
- Debra Johnson, SpectraBusters, 5 April 2016, Suwannee County Votes to Send Letter to Army Corps Of Engineers Asking for Independent Geological Study,
Tuesday April 5th Suwannee County voted 4 to 1 , with chairman Bashaw dissenting, to send a letter requesting that the Corps perform an independent environmental study concerning the geological omissions Sabal Trail withheld from their Environmental Study submitted to FERC to receive a permit to bore under the Suwannee River. After comparing Sabal Trail’s EIS with that of local geologist Dennis Price, Chris Mericle discovered omissions and discrepancies in this report endangering the Floridan Aquifer which supplies 60% of Florida’s water supply as well as endangering millions of citizens and hundreds, if not thousand, of springs. Sabal Trail submitted information for the pipeline permit to FERC stating the closest sinkhole to the pipeline route boring under the Suwannee River would be 750′ from the pipeline which is not true. Commissioner Wainwright and other BOCC officials discovered one active sinkhole 75′ from the 36″ fracked gas pipeline. In fact there is a sinkhole smack in the middle of the pipeline route with sinkholes covering the entire area.
Price, Mericle, and Johnson are WWALS members; Mericle is a WWALS board member.
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 1 April 2016, Suwannee County Commission to discuss Sabal Trail sinkholes, (WWALS blog post)
The letter would mimic one Hamilton County recently voted to send, said Suwannee County Commissioner Wesley Wainwright….
Several local residents, in addition to environmental groups, oppose the pipeline. One of the concerns, which has been brought up repeatedly by groups such as WWALS Watershed Coalition, is the sensitive nature of Florida’s geology….
The Suwannee County Commission have its next meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Suwannee County Judicial Annex, 218 Parshley St. SW.
- Irina Slav, OilPrice, 31 March 2016, Gas Pipeline Uses 160 Eminent Domain Suits To Get Property In 3 States, picked up by SpectraBusters blog post),
There are a lot of groups fighting the construction of the pipeline, and the Sabal Trail is likely to have a tough time getting the necessary right of way.
- L. Elliott Jones, Albany Herald, 28 March 2016, L. ELLIOTT JONES: Construction of Sabal Trail pipeline is not inevitable GUEST COLUMNIST: Efforts are still under way to prevent the construction of the gas pipeline (annotated SpectraBusters blog post),
The preventable group also includes other entities, among them the WWALS Watershed Coalition representing river users and landowners of the Suwannee River basin, and the web-based information-sharing citizen organization, Spectrabusters.org. The preventable group also includes at least 160 landowners along the proposed pipeline route in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida who failed to reach adequate settlements with Sabal for the value of their land, according to a March 22 report in the Orlando Sentinel. Sabal began filing eminent-domain lawsuits against those unwilling landowners in federal court in mid-March, and more may follow. Defending landowners accuse Sabal of being unwilling to consider alternative pipeline routes, of offering insufficient compensation for pipeline land, for unavoidably damaging adjacent property, and for lacking required permits.
- Kristi E. Swartz, EEnews, 28 March 2016, PIPELINES: Ga. lawmakers move to block 2 interstate projects (WWALS blog post),
A coalition of environmental groups has been fighting the project for more than a year. After the state Board of Natural Resources approved easements last fall, Sabal Trail’s opponents came up with a strategy for the legislative session.
That’s the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), which includes Waterkeeper® Alliance members Flint Riverkeeper and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Affiliate WWALS Watershed Coalition, along with Sierra Club, environmental law firm Greenlaw of Atlanta, Georgia River Network, SpectraBusters, and other groups and individuals too numerous to mention, on the statehouse floor in Atlanta, calling and emailing legislators, letters to the editor, and blogging on the Internet, facebook, twitter, etc.; see WWALS writeup, and about Sabal Trail see the Dirty Dozen 2015,in which GWC listed Sabal Trail for the second year running, at the nomination of WWALS.
- John S. Quarterman, WWALS blog, 22 March 2016, Georgia legislature overwhelmingly rejects river easements for Sabal “Sinkhole” Trail fracked methane pipeline,
John S. Quarterman, President, WWALS Watershed Coalition, the Waterkeeper® Affiliate for the Withlacoochee River and Okapilco Creek, explained, “So the governor can’t veto what he doesn’t get. Sabal Trail’s Georgia river easements are dead!”
- Aaron Gould Sheinin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 22 March 2016, Georgia House defeats bill to grant easements for S. Georgia pipeline,
The Georgia House on Tuesday soundly rejected a controversial measure to grant easements to a Houston-based energy company to build a methane gas pipeline through parts of South Georgia.
Senate Resolution 954 was crushed by a vote of 34-128 after more than an hour of debate.
- John S. Quarterman, Valdosta Daily Times, 22 March 2016, Still possible to keep Sabal Trail out,
Many new groups and individuals have realized this and have joined the opposition to Sabal Trail. And all its ugly stepsisters: five already-approved liquid natural gas export operations on both Florida coasts, two schemes to ship LNG by rail and road as far as Miami and Jacksonville, and another natural gas pipeline already in FERC permitting by Kinder Morgan to connect Sabal Trail from Suwannee County to Jaxport, which has been loudly gearing up for LNG export for years. Enough greed for profit at our expense!
You can help call on our elected officials, local, state, and federal, to stop this pipeline boondoggle that benefits nothing but greed for profit by a few companies.
Ask Georgia, Florida, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to issue any permits; see www.wwals.net/issues/stt/.
Let the sun rise over the rivers and aquifer on which our life depends.
- Paulo Salazar, WTXL, 1 February 2016, Sabal Trail Pipeline Causing Concern for Suwannee County Residents,
[WWALS board member] Chris Mericle has voiced in opposition of the project and says, “The pipeline is going through some very sensitive areas that actually will be drilled underneath the Suwannee River State Park.”
- Jason Stewart, Valdosta Daily Times, 27 January 2016, County approves Sabal easement,
William Langdale of Langdale Vallotton LLP disputed the domain rights.
“As Sabal Trail’s proposed use does not appear to furnish any natural gas in the state of Georgia,” Langdale said, “it is not authorized to exercise eminent domain rights pursuant to O.C.G.A. 22-3-88.”…
Quarterman challenged Slaughter’s assertion the agreement is in the best interest of the county and is like any other utility.
“I’m curious,” Quarterman said, “how this pipeline, which provides nothing to Lowndes County, is like any other utility.”
- Adam Floyd, Valdosta Today, 27 January 2016, LOWNDES COUNTY GRANTS EASEMENT FOR SABAL TRAIL PIPELINE
- Noelani Mathews, WCTV, 27 January 2016, Lowndes County Leaders Vote 4-1 for Sabal Trail (WWALS blog post)
“They’re supposed to represent the people of the County, not the salesman for a pipeline company from Houston, Texas”, says John Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition.
- John S. Quarterman, Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 27 January 2016, Videos: Sold out to Sabal Trail @ LCC 2016-01-26,
Exodus 23:2: Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.
- John S. Quarterman, Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 26 January 2016, The hazardous waste Lowndes County Clyattville landfill is not just another Sabal Trail easement @ LCC 2016-01-26
- Jason Stewart, VDT, 25 January 2016, County to vote on easement for Sabal Trail
- Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers, Georgia Sierran, January/February/March 2016, Pipeline in Southwest Georgia and Central Florida Risks Drinking Water,
The WWALS Watershed Coalition, representing the Waterkeeper affiliate for the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little and upper Suwannee River watersheds, filed suit and recently completed court proceedings challenging the legality of the FDEP permit on environmental grounds. The presiding judge did not side with WWALS, recommending FDEP move forward with the permit. WWALS and their attorneys are examining an appeal. Sabal Trail wants to drill under Okapilco and many other creeks in Georgia, plus the Withlacoochee, Flint and Chattahoochee rivers in Georgia, in addition to Florida’s Suwannee. The Sierra Club Florida Chapter contributed to the WWALS legal fund for their case, following up on the March 2014 joint resolution against Sabal Trail by the Florida, Georgia and Alabama Chapters. Save Our Suwannee also contributed financially, while Our Santa Fe River, Suwannee Alliance for Sustainable Growth and SpectraBusters assisted in other ways, such as by finding witnesses. Without the permit, Sabal Trail cannot drill under the Suwannee River. FDEP cannot issue the permit until this legal case is resolved, and there will almost certainly be an appeal.
- Chris Beckham, WVGA 105.9 FM, 15 January 2016, WWALS Outings –interview with John S. Quarterman
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 15 January 2016, Informational/organizational meeting on Sabal Trail pipeline 11 a.m. Saturday
- Lori McCraney, Suwannee Democrat, 24 December 2015, Opinion: Suwannee County commissioners lack resolve against Sabal Trail (WWALS blog post),
“Apparently, rural lives matter less than urban lives.”
- Joe Adgie, Valdosta Daily Times (and Moultrie Observer), 20 December 2015, EPA reverses stand on impact pipeline would have on aquifer (WWALS blog post),
“I don’t understand how EPA and FERC can say there will not be a negative impact on our environment, aquifer, streams and rivers,” said Valdosta City Councilman Tim Carroll. “A number of experts testified and spoke up saying the likelihood is very high that there could be damage to the aquifer and the environment. Why would we want to allow this to happen, to run the risk of seriously degrading one of the best water resources in the world?”
A Sierra Club of Florida official suggested the change in direction was politically motivated.
“I smell a skunk,” said Frank Jackalone, senior organizing manager of the Sierra Club of Florida. “This sudden 180-degree reversal raises the question of whether the pipeline’s powerful investors pulled political strings to get EPA to back away from the objections it raised a few months ago.”
John Quarterman, WWALS Watershed Coalition president, was not pleased with the change in direction either.
“The one government agency actually defending our drinking water in the Floridan Aquifer and the many rivers in Georgia and Florida just stifled itself,” Quarterman said.
The pipeline has been the subject of criticism from residents of Florida, Georgia and Alabama since 2013.
Local opposition has concerned property rights, with landowners contending Sabal Trail has illegally used eminent domain to get on their property for a pipeline that may not supply natural gas to customers in Georgia.
The Lowndes County Commission and the Valdosta City Council passed resolutions in 2014 opposing the pipeline, contending the rights of property owners were in jeopardy because of the pipeline.
- Chip Harp, Valdosta Today, 19 December 2015, EPA STEPS BACK ON SABAL TRAIL CONCERNS
- Dan Chapman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 18 December 2015, Southwest Georgia pipeline advances,
Georgia landowners and environmentalists were livid.
“This report just shows they are nothing but a lap dog for the natural gas industry and they’ve never seen a pipeline they don’t like,” said Steve Caley, legal director for Atlanta-based GreenLaw which is fighting the pipe. “They issued a final environmental (statement) while acknowledging they don’t have all the information yet.”
Spectra Energy, the Texas-based pipeline builder, wants to deliver 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from a major trunk line in Alabama to Florida. The proposed route would mostly follow existing utility rights-of-way, a factor cited Friday by FERC in support of the plan.
It would also cross under the Chattahoochee, Flint, Withlacoochee and Ochlocknee rivers. Spectra says the pipe will be buried at least 32 feet below any stream….
Federal environmental officials earlier this year outlined “very significant concerns” over the proposed route. The Environmental Protection Agency recommended that Spectra reroute the project to avoid more than 1,000 acres of wetlands, the Floridan Aquifer that supplies drinking water to millions of people and “other environmentally sensitive areas.”
“And FERC completely ignored all of them,” GreenLaw’s Caley said. “They totally ignored all the scientists at EPA, the expert reports we submitted and thousands of comments from public citizens.”…
Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources must still approve an air quality permit for the compressor station. FERC commissioners must also sign off on the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may weigh in too. GreenLaw is considering a lawsuit.
- Press Release, Florida Sierra Club, 17 December 2015, EPA says Sabal Trail pipeline is threat to Florida’s drinking water, then recants,
The Sierra Club strongly opposes any oil and gas pipelines proposed for Florida. Currently we are working in opposition to the Sabal Trail Pipeline, a joint venture of Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and Next Era, the parent company of Florida Power & Light Co….
Back in Florida, after the EPA issued its scathing report, the WWALS Watershed Coalition asked a Florida administrative law judge to take judicial notice of the EPA objections. But the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) joined Sabal Trail Transmission LLC, the company proposing the pipeline, and objected to the judicial notice. The Administrative Law Judge denied the Coalition’s request and on December 11th, the judge recommended that DEP should issue an environmental resource permit for the proposed pipeline.
Sabal Trail Transmission LLC must also acquire a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act before the pipeline can be built. Sierra Club Florida, working with the Gulf Restoration Network and Green Law recently submitted comments in opposition to the Sabal Trail Pipeline to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.
We will continue to do everything we can to oppose the Sabal Trail Pipeline and will keep our Members posted about ways you can take action to oppose the Pipeline.
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 16 December 2015, The future of energy: Debate takes over Suwannee commission meeting (WWALS blog post),
Carl McKinney’s droll legend refers on his picture refers to WWALS board member Chris Mericle as “Jasper man”. The map shows sinkholes near the proposed pipeline path across the Suwannee River and the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System, at the Suwannee County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday December 15th 2015. They did nothing about a further resolution against Sabal Trail, although numerous citizens (many of them WWALS members) from Suwannee County and nearby counties helped discuss the situation.
- Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 16 December 2015, EPA reverses stance on Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline project,
“This was really bold. There was a very detailed analysis of why the pipeline was flawed in the 30-page letter by the EPA to FERC. Now suddenly in a five-page letter, James Giattina (an EPA administrator) throws it all out the window,” Jackalone said Wednesday….
EPA spokeswoman Davina Marraccini said Wednesday that based on the new information and more recent technical review, EPA has concluded the project as proposed addresses wetland-related issues…“EPA expects that the potential wetlands impacts will be addressed in more detail during the permit process and looks forward to reviewing the final mitigation plan during that review,” Marraccini said.
- Christopher Curry, Ocala StarBanner, 16 December 2015, EPA reverses position on Sabal Trail pipeline,
The lone government agency with environmental concerns over the planned Sabal Trail pipeline has changed its tune and dropped its objections.
In a Dec. 11 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that it changed its stance after meeting with Sabal Trail company representatives, reviewing written comments from the company’s vice president/deputy general counsel and looking “more closely” at the project….
“This sudden, 180 degree reversal raises the question of whether the pipeline’s powerful investors pulled political strings to get EPA to back away from the objections it raised a few months ago in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” Frank Jackalone, senior organizing manager for Sierra Club Florida, wrote in an email Tuesday evening.
In a message on its website, the south Georgia environmental group WWALS Watershed Coalition, which recently launched an unsuccessful challenge against a state permit for the pipeline, raised concerns about the EPA’s reliance on information provided by Houston-based Spectra Energy, the firm that will construct, own and operate the pipeline, instead of information from groups such as Sierra Club.
EPA and Spectra Energy officials could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday morning.
- Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 16 December 2015, EPA reverses course on several Sabal Trail pipeline issues (WWALS blog post),
“This sudden, 180-degree reversal raises the question of whether the pipeline’s powerful investors pulled political strings to get EPA to back away from the objections it raised a few months ago,” [Frank] Jackalone [of Sierra Club Florida Chapter] said in an email Tuesday to POLITICO Florida.
- Dean Poling, Valdosta Daily Times, 15 December 2015, Logo wanted for river trail (WWALS blog post
- Brittany Kleinpeter, WTXL, Tallahassee, Florida, 14 December 2015, Environmental Group is Not Surprised by Judge’s Decision (WWALS blog post),
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 14 December 2015, Judge rules in favor of Sabal Trail pipeline,
John Quarterman is the president of WWALS Watershed Coalition, which brought the legal challenge forward to try and block the state from issuing a permit.
“The judge’s decision is not unanticipated, but disappointing,” Quarterman said. “We’re considering our options.”
The basis of the lawsuit was that the DEP didn’t do its due diligence in making sure Sabal Trail’s assurances about environmental impact were accurate, he said.
Though the agency hasn’t done so yet, it intends to grant the permit. Until it does, WWALS can’t appeal the judge’s decision, Quarterman said.
Sabal Trail was treated like any other permit applicant, Quarterman said, according to the DEP’s own statements. However, the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, which the pipeline would cross, have a special legal classification giving them higher levels of protection, he added.
- Joe Fisher, Natural Gas Intelligence, 14 December 2015, ALJ Recommends Florida Permit For Sabal Trail,
Environmental group WWALS Watershed Coalition Inc.’s primary objection to the project is the laying of pipeline in what it says is unstable karst terrain unfit for such a project. Such limestone geology is subject to holes, cracks and fissures, as well as sinkholes, which are common in North Florida.
However, ALJ Bram D.E. Canter recommended that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issue a permit for the project [CP15-17], which is a joint venture of Spectra Energy and NextEra Energy Inc. (see Daily GPI, Nov. 21, 2014)….
Canter also wrote that besides four WWALS members whose property would be crossed by Sabal Trail, the concerns of other members of the organizations were generally speculative when it came to how they would be affected by the pipeline. "Although a substantial number of WWALS members have substantial interests in the use and enjoyment of the waters and environment of Hamilton County and Suwannee County, a showing of potential injury to those interests was only established in the record for four WWALS members — the four who own land that the pipeline will cross," Canter wrote.
WWALS members are not the first to raise the issue of fragile karst terrain in the path of Sabal Trail. Lawmakers from Georgia have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider route alternatives, mainly to avoid low-income communities but also out of a concern for karst (see Daily GPI, Oct. 27). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has raised multiple concerns about the project, including karst (see Daily GPI, Oct. 23).
- Carolina Bolado, Law360, 14 December 2015, Enviros Lose Challenge To $3B Fla. Natural Gas Pipeline,
WWALS had filed a challenge in August after the DEP published a notice of intent to issue permits for the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline proposed by Spectra Energy Corp. and NextEra Energy Inc.
The organization expressed concerns about how the pipeline would affect fish and wildlife as well as water quality in the area. WWALS also said its members’ recreational use of the rivers and surrounding area could be affected by the pipeline.
Attorney William Wohlsifer, who represents WWALS, expressed frustration at the judge saying that the environmental group had failed to provide evidence about potential consequences of the pipeline. He said the judge had not permitted the group to present evidence regarding safety.
- News Service of Florida, Daily Commercial (also Ocala StarBanner via AP) 12 Dec 2015, Judge backs Sabal Trail pipeline project (WWALS blog post),
The WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. challenged a department decision to approve the permit, pointing to concerns about issues such as the project’s effects on wetlands, water quality and wildlife. Canter ruled that the group didn’t have legal standing to challenge the permit but also went further and rejected arguments against the project.
- Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 11 December 2015, Judge: DEP should issue environmental permit for Sabal Trail pipeline,
But a lawyer representing the WWALS Watershed Coalition said she was waiting for the go-ahead from the group to appeal in state court once DEP issues a permit. She said the group will ask the court to consider the EPA letter after Canter refused to provide a judicial review of it.
“A lot of people don’t even know about this pipeline,” said Leighanne Boone, representing the WWALS Watershed Coalition.
“They don’t know about this coming through. They think DEP is out there to protect. Wouldn’t they be surprised?”…
Boone said Friday that if there is additional evidence, the department should be able to deny the permit.
“No, I don’t believe they are joined at the hip,” she said. “They should be an independent agency that serves the people of Florida.”
Canter said in his order that the pipeline would be drilled under the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers to avoid surface impacts and 1.7 miles from Blue Springs State Park in Madison County. The pipeline, at four to six feet beneath the land surface, would cross above the Falmouth Cave system more than 100 feet below ground, Canter wrote.
Boone said the WWALS Coalition had its own expert testimony showing there was a reasonable chance of harm as a result of the pipeline going through the region.
“I’m not sure if they read the transcript or what happened,” she said. “But I definitely felt we showed expert testimony of irreversible impacts.”
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 10 Dec 2015, County not sending pipeline opposition letter,
The Suwannee County Commission adjourned a special called meeting Thursday after it declined to send a letter requesting regulators keep the Sabal Trail pipeline out of Florida and Suwannee County. “The pristine nature of this area should be kept in tact,” the letter states. Commissioners debated the letter at Live Oak City Hall Thursday morning. It would have been sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which the pipeline needs a permit from, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission….
Commissioner Wesley Wainwright was the first to elaborate on his stance at Thursday’s meeting.
“My business depends very heavily on energy,” he said, expressing concerns about how it would be impacted by rising costs.
“Natural gas is a viable alternative,” he continued.
However, if the other commissioners wanted to send the letter, Wainwright would support it to maintain a unified front, he added.
Wainwright said he believes the pipeline doesn’t pose a serious risk to the environment.
Environmental groups challenging the nearly 500mile project, which would run from Alabama through Georgia and Florida, dispute that stance, though.
John Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition, said in an interview there is no peerreviewed evidence supporting claims it wouldn’t harm sensitive geological areas. It cuts right through Florida’s aquifer, he said, and threatens fragile layers of soluble rocks, which could create sinkholes.
“The pipeline would be massively destructive,” Quarterman said….
Area resident Debra Johnson asked the commission for a brief time to speak, which it reluctantly agreed to.
Natural gas is not a “bridge fuel” to sustainable energy, she said, but is actually one of the worst greenhouse gases.
The pipeline would deliver gas to Florida Power & Light, but there’s another way, she said. Solar power could meet the company’s needs just as well, she added, according to a statement from FPL itself.
A proposed port in Tampa could also be a better way to transport energy without threatening Florida’s aquifer, Johnson said.
“No matter which way you look at it, that’s what this pipeline does,” she added.
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 9 Dec 2015, Suwannee County pipeline fight: Sabal Trail emergency meeting tomorrow morning, (WWALS blog post)
The Suwannee County Commission has called an emergency meeting tomorrow, Dec. 10, at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the fight against the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline. It was originally on the agenda for next week’s meeting on Dec. 15.
The meeting will be at Live Oak City Hall, 101 SE White Ave in Live Oak.
Commissioners will discuss sending a letter to the US Army Corps of Engineers asking it prevent the pipeline from running through the county.
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 7 December 2015, Suwannee County seeks allies in pipeline fight (WWALS blog post)
County staff is writing a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state of Florida, requesting the pipeline not enter Suwannee County….
John Quarterman, the president of WWALS Watershed Coalition environmental group, said he suspects several people will show up to the Dec. 15 meeting.
“There are certainly people in Suwannee County and nearby who are worried,” he said.
- Steve Ahlquist, RI Future.org, 30 November 2015, Former inspectors allege safety issues with Spectra pipeline project,
Spectra has a “has a checkered history of accidents and violations of federal safety rules in the U.S. and Canada dating back decades,” says Dan Christensen writing in the Miami Herald. “Since 2006, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration recorded 25 incidents that caused more than $12 million in property damage along Spectra’s main line — the 9,000-mile Texas Eastern Transmission that connects Texas and the Gulf Coast with big urban markets in the Northeast. The causes ranged from equipment failure and incorrect operations to pipe corrosion.”
WWALS is featured in that 16 August 2015 Miami Herald story.
- Bruce Ritchie, POLITICO Florida, 25 November 2015 (tweeted by Watershed alliance 28 December 2015), Scott administration helped keep scathing EPA pipeline report out of legal challenge, (WWALS blog post)
Four days later, the WWALS Watershed Coalition asked Administrative Law Judge Bram D.E. Canter to take judicial notice of the EPA objections.
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 20 November 2015, Dozens gather in Live Oak to oppose gas pipeline, compress station (WWALS blog post),
Not one hand raised among the dozens in the room when a county commissioner asked who came to support the proposed Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline which would run through three states and dissect Suwannee County if approved.
Tuesday evening, every parking space at the county’s judicial annex building was full as O’Brien residents, people from Live Oak and activists and experts from as far as New Orleans gathered at the county commission meeting to voice their opposition to the project.
The commission was voting on a measure to send a letter to Sabal Trail Transmission, a partnership between Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and NextEra Energy, asking it to reconsider a controversial compressor station for the pipeline it plans to place in O’Brien.
- Johanna deGraffenreid, Gulf Restoration Network, 20 November 2015, Suwannee County Stands Up to Sabal Trail,
This week I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of community members in Suwannee County, Florida who are working to protect their community and the drinking water supply for the state. Individuals with the WWALS Watershed Coalition and Gulf Restoration Network walked a section of the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline route within the Suwannee River State Forest. Chris Mericle, a member of Gulf Restoration Network and board member of WWALS, showed the group one of the many active sinkholes along and nearby the proposed route.Chris Mericle shows the group an active sinkhole near the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline route through the Suwannee River State Park.
The Suwannee County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to support moving the proposed natural gas compressor station associated with the Sabal Trail pipeline in their Florida community. When the county commission asked the packed room who was there to support the pipeline and compressor station not a single individual raised their hand. What followed was two hours of testimony supporting not just the resolution, but a complete ban on the compressor station and the Sabal Trail pipeline coming through their backyards.
- Joe Adgie, Valdosta Daily Times, 5 November 2015, Sabal makes Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen (WWALS blog post and another WWALS blog post), In which Spectra Energy’s Andrea Grover claims “The pipeline will not contaminate water or aquifers,” despite Spectra’s own SEC 10-K and Sabal Trail’s own Karst Mitigation Plan.
- Brad McEwan, Albany Herald, 4 November 2015, Proposed Sabal Trail pipeline makes water coalition Dirty Dozen: Georgia Water Coalition says Sabal Pipeline risky for SOWEGA (WWALS blog post),
According to the Dirty Dozen report the biggest concern voiced by the coalition, which is a consortium of 228 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses and faith-based organizations, is that the proposed pipeline could negatively impact the Withlacoochee, Flint, and Chattahoochee rivers, as well as smaller streams and creeks, along with the Florida aquifer, which is considered the region’s most important water source.
- Kristina Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4 November 2015, “Dirty Dozen” pollution sites named by Georgia Water Coalition: Sabal Trail is on it again, submitted by WWALS again.
- Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel, 4 November 2015, Natural-gas pipeline threatens aquifer,
After 18 months of debate about a natural-gas pipeline that would tear through a corner of south Lake County, the federal Environment Protection Agency last week unleashed 30 pages of objections, including specific opposition to the line going through the fragile Green Swamp.
Finally! Thank heavens the EPA is defending the swamp, the source of much of the state’s drinking water stored in the Floridan Aquifer.
(The article doesn’t actually metion WWALS.)
- Ocala StarBanner, 29 October 2015, Editorial: A public watchdog when one’s needed (WWALS blog post)
How refreshing it is to see what is supposed to be a public watchdog, the EPA, act like, rather than serve as industry rubber stamps like the FERC, DEP and PSC.
- Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun (also Ocala StarBanner and Daily Commercial of Sumter and Lake Counties), 27 October 2015, EPA: Sabal Trail pipeline’s path should be rerouted
The Environmental Protection Agency’s comments, outlined in a 26-page letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, left area activists feeling vindicated.
“Two years ago, that was the first thing we said to (FERC). With the aquifer and the karst sensitive areas, this is a bad place to put it,” said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River Inc. “It’s nice to get the technical and scientific re-enforcement of what we as advocates have been saying from day one.
“But will it change anything? I hope so.”
The EPA strongly recommended an alternative pipeline route and a more thorough investigation….
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection intends to issue an environmental permit — a decision challenged by the WWALS Watershed Coalition, a south Georgia environmental group with members in north Florida.
- Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle, 27 October 2015, EPA objects to Georgia pipeline project (no actual mention of WWALS, but very similar to the AJC article with the WWALS picture)
- Greg Bluestein, AJC, (also Valdosta Today, Valdosta Daily Times, and WALB), 27 October 2015, Feds deliver blow to proposed Sabal Trail pipeline running through Georgia (WWALS member Don Thieme is pictured.)
- Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 26 October 2015, EPA objects to portions of Sabal Trail pipeline, calls for re-routing
- Carl McKinney, Suwannee Democrat, 23 October 2015, Jasper hearings could decide fate of gas pipeline
- Lori McCraney, Suwannee Democrat, 23 October 2015, Letter to the editor
In issuing the Environmental Resource Permit and Easement to use Sovereign Submerged lands for Sabal Trail pipeline project, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has apparently relied heavily on the information provided by Sabal Trail and has rubber-stamped Sabal Trail’s permit approval.
Just as disturbing is the Suwannee River Water Management District’s inability to meet its statutory responsibility to protect the District’s water supply, water quality and natural systems.
In an April 18, 2014 memorandum to FERC, SRWMD geologist Carlos Herd and hydrogeologist Dale Jenkins essentially recommended that the pipeline project avoid karst limestone, areas with unconfined aquifer, caves, springs, wetlands, drilling under rivers, blasting, and using District groundwater for testing then disposing of the water afterwards. However, when called to testify Wednesday at the WWALS Watershed Coalition hearing, neither man seemed to recall any details about the memorandum that they co-authored.
Did these professionals neglect to review the memorandum prior to testifying, or were they muted by pressure from Tallahassee, where politics now trump established science? How can the DEP and SRWMD possibly be serving the best interests of the people of Florida in such a politicized climate?
- Suwannee Democrat, 23 October 2015, Jam-packed weekend and Sabal Trail fiasco,
Sabal Trail pipeline fiasco
The Sabal Trail pipeline’s proposed route has it running straight through Suwannee County, from north to south with a compressor station at Hildreth. The pipeline, if approved, will go under two rivers here, by many springs, karst topography areas and right above the Floridian aquifer.
We have a lot at stake in this county and by looking at the proposed route, we have a lot of the pipe going through here. So why is it, then, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) felt the need to hold a public meeting in Columbia County to get public input on the matter and not here nor in neighboring Hamilton County, which will also see pipeline construction if approved? By the way, the pipeline’s current proposed route doesn’t have it going through Columbia County.
John Peconom, an environmental manager with FERC and one of the authors of the draft environmental impact study regarding the project, stated that FERC was unable to find suitable facilities here or in Hamilton County in which to hold public meetings.
The WWALS Watershed Coalition held a legal hearing this week against Sabal Trail. It was held in Hamilton County. The hearing was going to be held in Tallahassee, but was moved to Hamilton County, thanks to WWALS. By the way, the pipeline’s proposed route doesn’t have it going through Leon County, where Tallahassee is, either.
A suitable facility was obtained for this hearing in Hamilton County.
Funny how that happens.
- Amber Vann, Suwannee Democrat, 7 October 2015, Locals speak out against gas pipeline (WWALS blog post),
WWALS Watershed Coalition President John Quarterman asked the crowd if they felt insignificant, citing the DEIS’ findings that the SMP’s environmental impacts would be “less than significant”. Quarterman, as well as several other speakers, advocated for the move towards solar energy in Florida, the “Sunshine State”.
“In less than 10 years when most of the power, if not all, in the U.S.’s electrical grid is coming from sun, wind and water, the companies still pushing fossil fuels in the year 2015 and those who aid and abet them will be seen like the tobacco company executives still pushing cigarettes to children when they know full well they cause cancer,” Quarterman said. “FERC’s process is completely broken. I say to the FERC commissioners—if you don’t want to be remembered on the wrong side of history, do the right thing and deny this pipeline.”
Quarterman and WWALS are behind a hearing filed against Sabal Trail planned for Oct. 19-22 in Jasper or Live Oak, which could potentially halt the project if WWALS is favored, Quarterman said.
- Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 5 October 2015, Audubon Florida supports Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline, (WWALS blog post)
Hundreds of residents along the proposed route oppose the project, asserting that rivers such as the Suwannee River as well as springs and the region’s water supply will be adversely impacted by its construction and operation.
Wetlands will be filled resulting in reduced fish and wildlife habitat, WWALs Watershed Coalition Inc. stated in a petition filed with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
- Videos, Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 2 October 2015, Pipeline in Floridan Aquifer is total insanity –Marcellus Shale drilling veteran @ FERC Lake City 2015-10-01
- Dan Christensen, Miami Herald, 2 October 2015, Firm says Gov. Scott’s stake in pipeline project is ‘irrelevant’ (WWALS blog post)
Environmental groups seek to block $3 billion project
Coalition seeks all correspondences from Scott, his office
Staff says governor’s blind trust shields him from conflict
- Videos, Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 2 October 2015, Insanity: Sabal Trail pipeline in karst sinkhole Floridan Aquifer @ FERC Lake City 2015-10-01
- Joe Adgie, Valdosta Daily Times, 2 October 2015, REgulators hear from Valdosta about Sabal Trail (WWALS blog post),
John Quarterman spoke of sinkholes that could result from the construction of Sabal Trail and what it could mean for water wells or water sinks.
“I’m sure everyone around here has heard of the Shiloh Road sinkhole and the Snake Nation Road Sinkhole that the county had to spend around $500,000 to fix,” Quarterman said. “If the pipeline drilling under the Suwannee River or the Withlacoochee River were to cause a sinkhole, it could have an effect on we don’t really know whose wells or where else.”
- Videos, Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 1 October 2015, Sabal Trail bad for VSU, rivers, animals, landowners, and community: to FERC in Valdosta 2015-09-30
- Christopher Curry, Ocala StarBanner, 1 October 2015, Small crowd, big opposition to natural gas pipeline,
“The citizens in the counties this pipeline will go through will get no benefit from this pipeline,” said Deanna Mericle, a Hamilton County resident and member of the the environmental group WWALS Watershed Coalition.
This group has an active legal challenge to a pending Florida department of Environmental Protection approval of the project. It’s scheduled to go to an administrative law judge this month.
- Dan Christensen, Florida Bulldog, 30 September 2015, Pipeline company to judge: Evidence of Gov. Scott’s investment in us ‘irrelevant’
- Videos, Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange, 30 September 2015, A farce, a hoax, and wrong: citizens about Sabal to FERC in Moultrie 2015-09-29
- Kevin C. Hall, Moultrie Observer, 30 September 2015, ‘Hoax’ alleged in Sabal Trail
- Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald, 29 September 2015, FERC gets an earful from Sabal Trail pipeline opponents: More than 200 show up for public hearing at Albany Civic Center (This article does not mention WWALS, but it’s about the first in the series of FERC meetings that next moved into WWALS territory.)
- Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald, 26 September 2015, CARLTON FLETCHER: Anti-pipeline letter steps over line (WWALS blog post)
- Amber Vann, Jasper News (and Suwannee Democrat), 24 September 2015, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Sabal’s proposed pipeline impact ‘less than significant’ on environment (WWALS blog)
- Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun, 14 September 2104, Sabal Trail pipeline environmental impact ‘not significant,’ feds say,
A south Georgia-based environmental group with members in north Florida, the WWALS Watershed Coalition, has an active challenge against that DEP permit that’s been assigned to administrative law judge with Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings.
- Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Jim Tatum, Suwannee Democrat, 14 September 2015, The FERC flexes its muscles on Sabal Trail (WWALS blog)
- Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald, 13 September 2015, FERC Sabal Trail ruling comes amidst protest: Group holds fasting vigil outside federal agency’s offices (WWALS blog post),
Meanwhile, in Florida an environmental group has filed a petition with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to stop development of the pipeline over concerns about the safety record of Spectra Energy, the Houston-based company that will build the pipeline. The group points to a May pipeline rupture under the Arkansas River that forced two miles of the river to be shut down after an estimated 3.9 million cubic feet of natural gas was released.
- Mary Shanklin, Orlando Sentinel, 9 September 2015, Natural-gas pipeline to Florida draws environmental concerns (WWALS blog post)
The Sabal Trail Pipeline has drawn opposition from a Florida group affiliated with WWALS Watershed Coalition Inc., which is based in Georgia. A chief concern is that the pipeline could impact Florida waterways and the drinking-water supply, said John S. Quarterman, director of the Florida and Georgia WWALS groups.
- Florida Water Daily, 8 September 2015, Environmental Groups Challenge Gas Pipeline Plans
- Dan Christensen, Miami Herald, 6 September 2015, Pipeline foes ask DEP to deny key permit, cite ‘conflict of interest’ by Gov. Rick Scott (WWALS blog post)
“The risk is not just to these waters … it is to the entire state of Florida whose growing population relies on the Floridan aquifer for much of its drinking water”
- Winnie Wright, WCTV, 4 September 2015, WWALS Receives Hearing on Sabal Trail Pipeline (WWALS blog post)
- CBS Miami, 4 September 2015, Judge To Consider Florida Pipeline Permit Dispute (WWALS blog post)
- Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 4 September 2015, State regulators grant hearing to anti-pipeline group (WWALS blog post)
Hamilton County resident and WWALS-FL registered agent Chris Mericle said, “We cannot continue to carve up our countryside like a cheap piece of meat and sell it to the highest bidder.”
- Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun, (and Ocala StarBanner), 4 September 2015, Part of Sabal Trail challenge will proceed (WWALS blog post)
- Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 3 September 2015, Florida DEP says anti-pipeline group’s case to be heard (WWALS blog post)
- Christopher Curry, Gainesville Sun and Ocala StarBanner, 3 September 2015 DEP again rejects Georgia group’s challenge to Sabal Trail pipeline (WWALS blog post)
- Winnie Wright, WCTV, 3 September 2015, Pipeline Opposition Group Denied Appeal By FL-DEP (WWALS blog post)
- Scott Callahan and Christopher Curry Halifax Media Group, Daily Commercial, 2 September 2015, Proposed natural gas pipeline draws petition (WWALS blog post)
- John S. Quarterman, VDT, 2 September 2015, Let’s stop Sabal Trail before it makes any more mistakes
- Christopher Heath, WFTV, 1 September 2015, 9 Investigates new Florida natural gas pipeline (WWALS blog post)
- Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 31 August 2015, Gas pipeline slated to supply FPL’s plants faces opposition (WWALS blog post)
- Dan Christensen, Florida Bulldog, 1 September 2015, Pipeline foes ask DEP to deny key permit; Cite ‘conflict of interest’ by Gov. Scott (WWALS blog post)
- Chris Curry, Gainesville Sun, 1 September 2015, Natural gas pipeline permit challenged (WWALS blog post)
- WCTV, Winnie Wright, 28 August 2015, WWALS Watershed Coalition Files Petition Against Pipeline (WWALS blog post)
“The combination of all this opposition, what we of course want to do is to stop the pipeline”, says John Quarterman, with WWALS. “There’s no need for this pipeline. Solar power is what we should be doing.”
- FloridaBulldog.org, Dan Christensen, 19 August 2015, You don’t need X-ray vision to see through Gov. Rick Scott’s blind trust (WWALS blog post).
- Miami New Times, Tim Elfrink, 17 August 2015, Scott backs environmentally dubious pipeline from firm he invested in (WWALS blog post).
- Miami Herald, Dan Christensen, 16 August 2015, Pipeline company with tie to Gov. Scott and state backing, has history of accidents (WWALS blog post) (quoted in Rhode Island story).
- Ocala StarBanner, Christopher Curry, 15 August 2015, Georgia-based group hopes to block natural gas pipeline (WWALS blog post).
- FloridaBullDog, Dan Christensen, 13 August 2015, Pipeline company with tie to Gov. Scott, and state backing, has history of accidents (WWALS blog post).
- FloridaBulldog, Dan Christensen, 4 August 2015, Gov. Scott’s pipeline investment gets a boost from Florida environmental regulators, by Dan Christensen.
DEP says it will issue the permit and easement unless an affected party files a petition seeking an administrative hearing by Friday, August 7. A spokesman for one environmental group, the Georgia-based WWALS Watershed Coalition, said it intends to file a petition by the deadline.
- WALB, 14 May 2015, Reed Bingham State Park,
Saturday, the park will host canoe and kayak races.
You can still sign up to take part in the 3rd annual Big Little River Paddle Event by calling (229) 896-3551.
- 2015-04-26: Tifton Gazette, BIG Little River Paddle Race in Tifton Gazette.
- 2015-04-03: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, South Georgia pipeline plan fuels fight,
“Atlanta is surrounded by fossil fuel invaders with more pipelines likely in the future,” said John S. Quarterman, a leader of the anti-Sabal Trail campaign in Valdosta. “But there’s no need for any of this now that solar power is cheaper, far cleaner than oil or gas and doesn’t require pipelines, terminals, compressor stations, eminent domain or environmental degradation.”
- 2015-03-23: Suwannee Democrat, 2 Hamilton County businesses donate prizes for logo contest
- 2015-03-20: Jasper News, Two Hamilton County businesses donate prizes for logo contest
- 2015-03-18: Valdosta CEO, South Georgia Talent Won the Alapaha River Water Trail Logo Contest
- 2015-03-13: Tifton Gazette: Prizes to High School Logo Contest Winners Saturday at Alapaha River Water Trail Conference
- 2015-03-11: Valdosta CEO: Prizes to High School Logo Contest Winners at Alapaha River Water Trail Conference
- 2015-02-16: Akron Ohio Beacon-Journal Eco-groups continue fighting natural gas pipelines across Ohio, By Bob Downing.
- 2015-01-20: Suwannee Democrat: High school student logo contest for Alapaha River Water Trail by WWALS
- 2015-01-09: Valdosta Daily Times: Valdosta in Moultrie discussing flooding Saturday
- 2014-12-11: WCTV: Lowndes County and Valdosta City Pass Resolutions against Sabal Trail Pipeline, by Winnie Wright
- 2014-11-27: WCTV: Sabal Trail on GWC Dirty Dozen: contamination, sinkholes, aquifer, by Winnie Wright
- 2014-10-14: Jasper News: Pipeline open house draws protesters
- 2014-08-28: Gainesville Sun: Water and property rights should trump pipeline profits (WWALS op-ed against Sabal Trail pipeline)
- 2014-08-03: Ocala Star-Banner: Water, property rights over pipeline profits (WWALS op-ed against Sabal Trail pipeline)
- 2014-08-01: Moultrie Observer: Much opposition (WWALS op-ed against Sabal Trail pipeline)
- 2014-07-27: Tifton Gazette: WWALS receives Alapaha Water Trali grant
- 2014-07-21: Valdosta Daily Times: WWALS gets grant from river network
- 2014-07-10: WALB TV: Sabal Trail pipeline hearing in Leesburg, GA
- 2014-06-25: Lanier County Advocate: Blueway Trails in South Georgia? by Christopher Lee Graham
- 2014-06-09: Palm Beach Post: FPL pipeline opponents attending hearing in Georgia Thursday
- 2014-03-10: Tifton Gazette: Big Little River Paddle Event
- 2013-12-11: Daily Commercial, Leesburg, FL, Gas pipeline discussed in Groveland,
But one group has already begun to question that. The WWALS Watershed Coalition Inc., an environmental group in Adel, Ga., has sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing the pipeline.
In the letter, the group notes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Spectra Energy, one of Sabal Trail’s parent companies, $15 million for spills at 89 sites along another pipeline.
“This pipeline brings only hazards and destruction with no benefits to Georgia, and it is expensive and equally hazardous and destructive to Florida,” Dave Hetzel, the group’s president, wrote.
“There is no excuse for yet another gas pipeline when solar power is already less expensive, doesn’t require a hundred-foot right of way, emits no pollution, doesn’t use massive amounts of water, risks no spills or fires, and provides cheaper electricity and jobs right here in south Georgia and north Florida.
“Profits for fossil fuel companies elsewhere are no reason to violate property rights of local people,” Hetzel added, “or to destroy our local watersheds, or to risk contamination of our aquifer.”
- 2013-08-21: fox31, Albany, GA, The importance of Watershed conservation
- 2013-02-13: Ocilla Star: Watershed conservation group raising awareness in south Georgia
- 2013-01-15: Tifton Gazette: Veteran river conservationist spoke to new WWALS Watershed Coalition
- 2014-11-14: FERC and Sabal Trail at the Withlacoochee River in Hamilton County, FL filed with FERC by Chris Mericle
- 2014-10-27: WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel explains the Alapaha River Water Trail on YouTube.
- 2014-08-21: WWALS and Satilla Riverkeeper in Perry, GA
- 2014-08-19: WWALS President John S. Quarterman discusses the Alapaha Water Trail as a quality-of-life economic development asset at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Economic Development Authority.
- 2013-02-04: Water trails for economic benefit —Bret Wagenhorst
- 2015-03-05: Riverkeepers v. Palmetto Pipeline
- 2015-01-31: Sabal Trail ignored springs and underground connections —TSE Plantation
- 2015-01-31: SRWMD PR, Springs flow under the Suwannee River next to the Withlacoochee River
- 2014-08-28: DuPont withdraws permit application for Jesup mine —Riverkeepers and Greenlaw
- 2013-03-18: Test wells for arsenic —South Health District