Tag Archives: eminent domain

Four Three Sabal Trail Jury Trials in Valdosta, GA 2018-09-10

Update 2018-09-13: The outcome.

Update 2018-09-12: The second day.

Update 2018-09-10: Gretchen Quarterman and Janet Barrow attended the jury selection this morning, and will report in detail this afternoon. One difference from last time is this time jurors were asked if they knew Randy Dowdy, Wavel Robinson, or Sandra Jones. Perhaps not coincidentally, FERC required Sabal Trail to report on topsoil mixing for all three. Jones is also the remaining eminent domain case not being tried this week. The other three actual trials, yes, all with the same jury, start this afternoon at 1:30 PM.

Update 2018-09-05: According to a usually reliable source the Jones trial will be in January, so that’s three trials next week. Also, all three trials will be heard by the same jury. Given that each of the defendants has a different kind of property, that sounds to me like the circus come to town.

You can come see four more eminent domain jury trials start next week in Valdosta, after Sabal Trail lost the first one. Jury selection will start 9AM Monday morning, September 10, 2018. The actual trials could start that afternoon, and may run all week. You can’t take much into the courtroom, but there’s a public sidewalk out front, and there will probably be a TV reporter there part of the time.

Cases No. 4:16-cv-092 (Jones), -104 (Isaacs), -107 (GBA Ass.), -113 (Bell), Federal Building, Valdosta, GA

When: Jury selection 9AM Monday morning, September 10, 2018.
Trials could start that afternoon, and may run all week.

Where: Main Courtroom, Second Floor, U.S. District Court
401 N Patterson St., Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook, meetup

The first case was for W. Lynn Lasseter of Moultrie, to whom the jury awarded five times what Sabal Trail offered. So apparently these trials will be for landowners all of whom, Continue reading

Spectra responds in pipeline certificate rulemaking 2018-08-24

As we’ve seen so often in the Sabal Trail docket, Spectra seems to be acting in place of FERC, responding yesterday to thousands of comments on FERC’s certificate rulemaking.

Spectra’s bottom line: a pipeline company’s bottom line matters more than the Fifth Amendment due process, or water, air, or safety. See page 25:

Contrary to some commenters’ arguments, the Commission’s public interest determinations are not rendered insufficient under the Fifth Amendment public use requirement because the Commission considers precedent agreements among applicants and affiliates to be evidence of public benefits.

Spectra repeatedly argues that FERC does not have authority to consider hardly anything other than whether the pipeline company has customers, yet FERC has authority to give eminent domain to private corporations and to let them gouge through our lands and under our rivers without local agreement or payment first.

Page 9: Tolling Orders, Pages

In this election year, you can ask every candidate for statehouse or Congress whether they support Continue reading

Farm Bureau pipeline and solar power policies 2018

Pipelines and rivers run through and by farms, and many farmers have solar panels, so it’s interesting to see what Farm Bureau has for energy policies.

Farm Bureau is for fixing FERC by revising the laws that let the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reimburse Congress from fees and charges on the companies it supposedly regulates. Many of Farm Bureau’s pipeline policies are good and sound like it listened to Randy Dowdy. It gets hardcore about eminent domain. There are even a couple of items that, if law, would have been very useful in the recent and upcoming Sabal Trail eminent domain jury trials.

It has some very good solar energy policies, and it is for renewable energy, including incentives; even an electric car policy.

Not all is good. Farm Bureau is for “clean coal”, fracking, nuclear power, and oil and gas exploration everywhere. It never mentions wind power without mixing it with dirtier energy sources.

Title, Policy Book

This is all from FARM BUREAU® POLICIES FOR 2018: Resolutions on National Issues Adopted by the Voting Delegates of the Member State Farm Bureaus to the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation®, Nashville, TN, January 2018.

Some of the policies are weirdly categorized: Continue reading

Deadline for FERC rulemaking comments 2018-07-25

In addition to probably signing onto comments by a larger entity, WWALS is preparing comments for FERC in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities”. FERC’s current deadline is this Wednesday, 25 July 2018. Please send any suggestions you may have to wwalswatershed@gmail.com. Or file your own comments. Apologies for the late request.

Here’s what FERC has asked for:

In the NOI, the Commission sought input on whether, and if so how, the Commission should adjust: (1) its methodology for determining whether there is a need for a proposed project, including the Commission’s consideration of precedent agreements and contracts for service as evidence of such need; (2) its consideration of the potential exercise of eminent domain and of landowner interests related to a proposed project; and (3) its evaluation of the environmental impact of a proposed project. The Commission also sought input on whether there are specific changes the Commission could consider implementing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its certificate processes including pre-filing, post-filing, and post-order issuance.

South Georgia and north Florida
Sabal Trail through south Georgia and north Florida.
Map by Geology Prof. Can Denizman for WWALS.net, 17 September 2016, as part of Sabal Trail maps digitized.

Here are some relevant documents, starting with a how-to in case you want to file your own comments directly with FERC: Continue reading

WCTV: Celebrating victory against Sabal Trail

Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 27 June 2018, Landowners, environmentalists celebrate ‘small victory’ over Sabal Trail,

The Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline was granted eminent domain in order to run through some of the private properties along its path. In doing so it was required to offer what the defense calls ‘just compensation.’

Eminent domain

One Moultrie land owner was offered around $20,000 for an easement on his property. This week a jury, siding with the land owner, decided that was not enough.

Sabal Trail is now ordered to pay five times that amount, more than Continue reading

Sabal Trail loses jury trial in Valdosta, GA 2018-06-26

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2018, Valdosta, GA — The jury deliberated a bit less than an hour two hours, delivering a verdict just before 7PM tonight: $103,385 for easement and $4,531.50 for timber. The figures offered by Sabal Trail were $19,979 for easement and $4,117 for timber. Assuming these numbers transcribed from various speakers are correct, the jury awarded five times what Sabal Trail offered for the pipeline easement and somewhat more than their offer for timber.

“When Sabal Trail goes to jury trial, it loses,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Here are the winners, waiting in the hall before the jury came back:

Fred Jones, Lynn Lasseter, Jonathan Waters, Reese Waters
The winners: Fred Jones, Lynn Lasseter (Defendant), Jonathan Waters (attorney), Reese Waters (attorney’s assistant)

This jury verdict from the U.S. Court, Middle District of Georgia, is very similar to Continue reading

Sabal Trail Jury Selection 2018-06-25

When I started out the day, I wasn’t planning on spending the morning watching jury selection but I did. Honestly, everyone should go observe court our government in action now and then. Voir dire!
I knew that electronic devices weren’t allowed so I left my phone in the car. I couldn’t find any paper so I used Moonwalking with Einstein to remember things.

Electronic devices shall not be utilized

I arrived at the Federal Building about 9:15AM and noticed the changes since the post office moved out. The only thing you can do is go into the elevator. I took the elevator to the second floor to the security screening but had to go back to the car to get ID. I successfully negotiated security by 9:30AM.

When I actually arrived, jury selection was Continue reading

Sabal Trail Jury Trial in Valdosta, GA 2018-06-25

Update 2018-06-26: Cross examination starts at 9AM today in the Sabal Trail Jury Trial in Valdosta. John S. Quarterman went to the oral arguments yesterday afternoon.

Update 2018-06-25: Oral arguments start 1PM today in the Sabal Trail Jury Trial in Valdosta. Gretchen went to jury selection this morning, which wrapped up rapidly.

PDF flyer.

Maybe this will end up like the last jury trial, which didn’t go so well for Sabal Trail. Come see!

Photo by Mjrmtg on Wikimedia Commons of Federal Building, Valdosta, GA, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. The date, case number, judge, and defendant, are from Attorney Jonathan P. Waters. Anything additional I have dug up.

When: 1PM, Monday, June 23, 2018, and may run all week.

Where: Continue reading

Senators from Rhode Island and Colorado show how FERC can use social cost of carbon

Senators from two states far away just did what none of the senators from Alabama, Georgia, or Florida have done: called out FERC on its failure to do what the judges ordered about the social cost of carbon for the fracked methane pipelines Sabal Trail, Transco, and Florida Southeast Connection.

Sheldon Whitehouse Michael Bennet

FERC Accession Number 20171114-0043, “Comments of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse et al re the Southeast Market Pipelines Project under CP14-554 et al.” FERC’s generated PDF is not very legible, so the text below is from Sheldon Whitehouse, Press Releases, 8 November 2017, WHITEHOUSE, BENNET CALL ON FERC TO USE SOCIAL COST OF CARBON IN REVIEW OF PIPELINES, which also has linked to it a legible PDF. Continue reading

FERC alleged SEIS for Sabal Trail and Sierra Club Petition

The agency most responsible for pushing new greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is “not aware of” and “could not find a suitable method to attribute discrete environmental effects to GHG emissions.” That epitomizes the lack of seriousness of the five-page Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) FERC issued last month for Sabal Trail and the rest of the Southeast Market Pipelines (SMP) Project. If “the ability to determine localized or regional impacts from GHGs by use of these models is not possible at this time,” FERC should take Sabal Trail out of service and stop approving any more pipelines until such models are possible.

Maybe the agency pushing the most GHG should create such a model if it does not exist.

Maybe it could at last get the history straight about which coal plants FPL claimed Sabal Trail was needed to “modernize”.

Until then, this alleged SEIS is junk and Sabal Trail should be shut down.

You can sign Sierra Club’s petition against this fake SEIS, even though FERC can’t be bothered to hold public hearings. If you need reasons, read on below.


Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post, 1 April 2014, FPL’s Riviera Beach plant goes online Tuesday.
It’s already built, even though in 2013 FPL said Sabal Trail was needed to do that.
Now FERC’s SEIS names different plants as excuses.

Fracked methane emissions divided by Solar Power zero emissions

The SEIS explicitly mentions solar power: Continue reading