Category Archives: Fracking

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

On Earth Day, FERC approved Sabal Trail Albany, GA, and Dunnellon, FL, compressor stations 2020-04-22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FERC on Earth Day rubberstamped Sabal Trail pipeline compressor stations in Georgia virus hotspot and Florida location that already leaked

Hahira, Georgia, April 23, 2020 — “What better way to say they don’t care, than to do this on Earth Day?” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) broke out its rubberstamp during a virus pandemic, ignoring its own process, as well as all the comments and our motion against, to approve turning on two compressor stations, including one in Albany, Georgia, which is the Georgia city worst-affected by the virus, and another at a site near Dunnellon, Florida, which already leaked multiple times even before construction started.”

[Project Location Map]
Project Location Map

Methane from fracking is not more important to push through a Sabal Trail pipeline than the health of local people or even Sabal Trail’s own workers.

Compressor Station from FL 200
Photo: WCJB, of Sabal Trail Dunnellon Compressor Station after leak, 2017-08-11.

Quarterman added, “With the price of oil negative and “natural” gas down 40%, it’s time to ask investors if they want to go down with the fossil fuel ship of fools and time to ask politicians if they want this to be their legacy.”

Only four weeks before the FERC approval letter, FERC opened a comment period on a request by Sabal Trail for six more months to finish these same facilities, in which Sabal Trail cited the virus pandemic as a reason. Contradicting its own request, and during that two-week period, Sabal Trail asked FERC to go ahead and approve turning on both compressor stations, which must involve Sabal Trail workers working during pandemic conditions.

FERC did not even mention that WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) had moved to deny, nor any of the numerous other comments against turning on the compressor stations.

For that comment period, FERC required organizations to file again to be Intervenors, and only organizations that were already Intervenors on the process of the underlying FERC docket could do that. The only one to do that was Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS (see PDF). WWALS also filed a motion to halt Sabal Trail’s Phase II (which is mostly these two compressor stations), to deny Sabal Trail’s request to turn the compressor stations on, and to invoke penalties for already being two years late (see PDF). WWALS reasons to deny included repeated previous leaks at the Dunnellon Compressor Station of hazardous Mercaptan odorant, as well as leaks of methane at the Hildreth Compressor Station in Suwannee County, Florida, plus sinkholes at the Flint River near the Albany Compressor Station, the virus pandemic, and Sabal Trail gas going to private profit through Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) export, making a mockery of local landowners having to give up easements through federal eminent domain supposedly for the public good of the United States.

WWALS also noted that the only “justification” for Sabal Trail was alleged “market need,” and there was none any more, since oil and gas prices had dropped through the floor. Since then, oil prices actually went negative for the first time in history, and natural gas prices are down more than 40% from only six months ago.

FERC did not address the concerns raised by Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) about leaks, breach of commitment, and endangering commmunities Continue reading

New ban fracking bill in Florida: help it pass

The fifth or sixth year could be the charm, as a fracking ban was among the first 100 bills filed in the Florida Senate. Here’s who you can call to help get this bill passed.

matrix acidization
Source: Leong, V.H. & Ben Mahmud, H. J Petrol Explor Prod Technol (2019) 9: 753. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13202-018-0496-6.

Florida S.B. 200 would ban all forms of fracking, including matrix acidization. It was introduced by Sen. Bill Montford and passed unanimously the committee he chairs, on November 4, 2019.

Two days later, an article appeared in Forbes claiming matrix acidization is not really fracking: Continue reading

Fracking is causing global rise in methane pollution

So bad even the fossil fuel industry press is reporting it: Nick Cunningham, OilPrice.com, 18 August 2019, Shale’s Dark Side: Methane Emissions Are Soaring,

Figure 1: methane emissions rising since 2008, and it's fracking
Figure 1 from the study: Methane emissions are rapidly rising since 2008, and carbon 13 signatures show it’s not cows, it’s not swamps, it’s not coal, which is crashing: it’s fracking.

A new study finds that shale oil and gas is behind the global rise in methane pollution over the past decade, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, published in Biogeosciences, was able to separate methane emissions from conventional versus unconventional drilling, as well as methane from other “biogenic” sources, such as agriculture or wetlands. “This recent increase in methane is massive,” Robert W. Howarth of Cornell University, the author of the study, said in a statement. “It’s globally significant. It’s contributed to some of the increase in global warming we’ve seen and shale gas is a major player.”

Methane emissions rose Continue reading

SRWMD explains itself to #PaddleGA2019 2019-06-19

Thanks to Lindsey Garland and Ben Glass for explaining SRWMD springs, rivers, and water withdrawals to 300 new people from all over the world on #PaddleGA2019, at Camp Suwannee, Dowling Park, Suwannee County, Florida.

[About SRWMD]
About SRWMD

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) is the largest Continue reading

No fracking, Porque el dinero no se bebe 2019-06-14

WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter writes:

Spied this notice attached to a lamppost in Tunja, Colombia. It is inviting people to protest a fracking bill in Colombia’s congress. The message is simple. “NO Fracking. Why? Because you can’t drink money.” Also says that “Without water your children have no future.”

Porque el dinero no se bebe, Fractura Hidraulica No

Here’s a very similar graphic with further explanation in Spanish. Continue reading

Florida Water Conservation Month and Waterkeepers Florida 2019-04-02

Yesterday, the Chair of Waterkeepers Florida received a resolution sponsored by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried and “signed by Governor DeSantis and the full Cabinet, recognizing the month of April as Water Conservation Month in Florida.” This is a good thing, but we should keep our eyes open about Florida’s current cabinet.

[WKA FL Chair, Governor, Cabinet]
Left to right: Lisa Rinaman for WKA FL, unknown, Gov. Ron DeSantis, FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, unknown, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Office Jimmy Patronis.

Commissioner Fried presented the resolution to Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Chair of Waterkeepers Florida. Read the resolution declaring April as Water Conservation Month here.

“On behalf of Waterkeepers Florida, we thank Commissioner Fried, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet for designating April as Water Conservation Month. Water conservation is critical to the work we do to protect and restore Florida’s waters. We applaud this resolution and the Cabinet’s commitment to conserving Florida’s waters and the opportunity to partner with our leaders to protect our waters for future generations,” said Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper.

On St. Johns Riverkeeper’s facebook page, yesterday: Continue reading

Waterkeepers in Tallahassee 2019-03-13

Three of the Waterkeepers of Florida were at the Capitol in Tallahassee Wednesday, two of them for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All, an annual event organized by ReThink Energy Florida and others. Of course Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) was prominently represented. Banning fracking was top of the long list of issues on the agenda. Water Quality and Quantity included Valdosta (and other) wastewater.

[Speaking]
Speaking

Lake Worth Waterkeeper Reinaldo Diaz advocates for the Lake Worth Lagoon and its watershed, a coastal estuary running along the eastern edge of Palm Beach County.

[Lisa Rinaman et al.]
Lisa Rinaman et al.

Scariest of all to polluters is St Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, seen here with Continue reading

Anyone who understands fracking opposes it 2015-05-12

This popular meme has lacked any indication of who wrote those words. Words that are relevant right now, when we need you all to support Florida SB 314 to ban fracking.

Now with authors, Meme

Here are the authors of those words: Jim Tatum and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Pensacola News-Journal, online 11 May 2015, on paper the next day, Anyone who understands fracking opposes it,

Anyone who understands fracking is opposed to it. If they understand it but still support it, then they must be gaining profit from it. There is no “gray area” with fracking. There is nothing good about it. There is no such thing as safe fracking.

Rotated, Op-Ed

Millions of gallons are used for each and every frack, polluted Continue reading

FERC rubberstamps four rehearing denials and a new pipeline on a Friday 2018-08-10

Scurrying to use its rubberstamp before a Commissioner departing leaves it tied 2:2, FERC once again rubberstamped multiple pipelines, this time three on a Friday plus an LNG export project, while neither its main online library nor its backup library yielded copies of the orders.

I found these four by googling:

  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,099 Florida Southeast Connection, LLC Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, Sabal Trail Transmission, Docket Nos. CP14-554-003, LLC CP15-16-004, LLC CP15-17-003, ORDER DENYING REHEARING, Issued August 10, 2018
  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,098, PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC, Docket No. CP15-558-001, ORDER ON REHEARING, August 10, 2018.
  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,100, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, Dominion Transmission, Inc., Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc., Docket Nos. CP15-554-002, CP15-555-001, CP15-556-001, Order on Rehearing, August 10 2018.
  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,102, Dominion Energy Cove Point LNG, LP, Docket No. CP17-15-001, ORDER DENYING REHEARING, August 10, 2018.

Oh, wait, a mention of a docket number in a FERC agenda leads me to one more Friday rubberstamp, of a new Transco pipeline in New Jersey:

FERC rubberstamp

  • 164 FERC ¶ 61,101, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC, Docket No. CP17-490-000, ORDER ISSUING CERTIFICATE, August 10, 2018.

Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur dissented from Continue reading