Tag Archives: lawsuit

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

Open manhole lawsuits

The City of Valdosta is lucky nobody fell into that open manhole it says is part of manhole rehabilitation. That manhole is next to the Azalea Trail where whole families with small children walk, and on Valdosta State University property next to the VSU Recreation Center.

[Manhole dug down]
Manhole dug down

Mario Cattabiani, RossFellerCasey, 20 March 2014, $85 Million Verdict For Student Who Fell Into Open Manhole,

Founding partner Matt Casey argued in court that defendant Trigen-Philadelphia Energy Corp. failed to properly secure the manhole, which had been removed by a homeless man shortly before Gustafsson happened by that fateful day. The trial lasted three weeks, featured thousands of documents and a closing scene that played out as if written in a Hollywood script. As the jury was set to return a verdict, at literally the last minute, the insurer offered to settle the case for $10 million—a sum Casey, in consultation with his client, rejected. Just moments later, the jury awarded the former promising medical student $85 million.

McAleer Law Firm, 21 April 2020, A Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Burden in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits against the Government

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an appeal from a judgment in favor of a plaintiff in her lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. The woman filed a lawsuit to recover for damages she incurred after driving into an open manhole. The woman contended that the government should be liable for her injuries because the manhole was a public nuisance. The city appealed a jury finding in favor of the woman, arguing that the woman did not meet her evidentiary burden.

Under Georgia law, a municipality “may be held liable for damages it causes to a third party from the operation or maintenance of a nuisance, irrespective of whether it is exercising a governmental or municipal function.” To recover for damages plaintiffs must present evidence that: Continue reading

Madison County fed up with contaminated water –WCTV 2020-02-26

Update 2020-02-29: Avoid Withlacoochee River Knights Ferry to Suwannee River Dowling Park 2020-02-27

See below for the rest of the story around yesterday’s TV report. You can help.

Amber Spradley, WCTV, 26 February 2020 (Posted: Thu 5:06 AM, Feb 27, 2020 | Updated: Thu 5:55 PM, Feb 27, 2020), Madison community fed up with contaminated water,

MADISON, Fla. (WCTV) — Madison County Board of Commissioners held a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the county’s high levels of E. coli and other contaminants in the Withlacoochee River and wells.

[Fallout continues]
Fallout continues
Still from video of Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman testing the Withlacoochee at Troupville Boat Ramp, taken by Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 15 January 2020, Withlacoochee River tested ahead of Mayor’s Paddle.

Board members say it’s fallout from multiple sewage spills happening in south Georgia, particularly the sewage spill in Valdosta last December.

It resulted in more than seven million gallons of sewage leaking into the Withlacoochee River.

[Still advised not to drink]
Still advised not to drink

Since then, Continue reading

U.S. EPA still says mine would have substantial and unacceptable impact –Suwannee Riverkeeper 2019-12-31

In the Charlton County Herald, December 31, 2019:


Dear Editor,

The burden of proof is still on the miners to show their mine would not damage the Swamp or the Rivers, and they have not met that burden.

U.S. EPA still finds that “the proposed project will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance.”

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Anonymous drone aerial of heavy equipment on the mining site 2019-11-23.
River Styx is in the background, Okefenokee Swamp is on the horizon.
St. Marys River flows out top left horizon. Suwannee River flows out far side of Swamp.

That’s about “the permit application submitted by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC” for a titanium strip mine. “The proposed 2,414-acre mine area lies in proximity to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and the potential secondary effects of the mine on the NWR have not been demonstrated by the permit applicant.”

This is the second letter EPA has sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the mining application is deficient. We obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The entire letter is here: http://wwals.net/?p=50931.

You, too, can still comment to the USACE, and all comments they receive before the Corps announces a decision can be used in any potential lawsuits. The addresses are: Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill 2019-12-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, December 19, 2019 — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting ten enforcment actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD). WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, summed it up: “As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel shat upon by Valdosta over and over. I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily. But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”

The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a Consent Order. WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.

[2019-12-17--WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001]
2019-12-17–WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001

“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Today we’re forwarding the letter to Continue reading

Jesup deja vu times two: DuPont, Chemours, Twin Pines, titanium mining, Folkston, Starke

Does this sound familiar? “DuPont planned to separate the mineral sands from the rest and then truck that to its facility in Starke for final processing.”

[Chemours haul from Jesup to Starke]
Chemours plans to haul the extracted ore from a mine near Jesup, in Wayne County, to a Chemours facility near Starke, Fla. The material could be hauled by truck or by CSX Corp., which provides service between the two cities, according to the company’s map. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered, Saporta Report

Multiple organizations also said Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) told them TPM planned to haul ore to Starke to process from TPM’s proposed mine in Charlton County, Georgia, but this was DuPont, in 2014, in Wayne County. And Chemours, starting about 2016, also in Wayne County.

Dupont Jesup Mine

Terry Dickson, Jacksonville.com, 27 August 2014, DuPont withdraws application for permit to mine more than 2,200 acres in Wayne County, Continue reading

Valdosta December 2018 sewage and Hamilton County, FL legislative delegation 2019-01-16

Water quality testing of drinking wells and rivers is needed, and not just when there is a spill. Maybe the state of Florida will help fund it. Or maybe Valdosta should. It doesn’t seem right that Hamilton County should have to pay for it.

Valdosta, Tifton, Quitman, and Lowndes County, December 2018, Table
For the WWALS automated updates on GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, see wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills/.

The main newspaper of Suwannee and Hamilton Counties, Florida, is getting into the act, but seems to only know part of the picture. Editorial: It’s time for support with sewage spills, The Suwannee Democrat, Jan 24, 2019, Continue reading

LNG export through Tampa from Strom in Crystal River

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Crystal River, Florida, October 18, 2018 — Strom, Inc. now proposes exporting liquid natural gas (LNG) by tanker ship through the port of Tampa. That explosive cargo would get there by land from Crystal River through densely populated areas. LNG tanker ships would go out right by downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg, and under the I-275 bridge. Strom has always said some of this fracked methane would likely come from the Sabal Trail pipeline. Getting on with solar power for the Sunshine state makes a lot more sense than shipping gas under our rivers, through private property, and by major cities for corporate export profit. Clean energy for Florida and beyond is an issue in this election year.

Strom Inc. export through Tampa, Map
Map: by WWALS, from federal and state filings of LNG export operations.

Strom “may elect to file an amendment to our application to allow transportation of LNG by LNG tanker,” according to its latest semi-annual report to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) (see http://wwals.net/?p=46497), According to Strom’s website it means LNG tanker ships, like this one: Continue reading

Strom, Inc. LNG export quarterly report to DOE FE 2018-10-01

What’s this about LNG tanker, in Strom, Inc’s latest LNG export planning report?

Strom has insisted on liquid natural gas (LNG) in shipping containers since 2014, back when it tried to get FERC to state it wasn’t overseeing small-export LNG. Strom still aims to export through the Port of Tampa, and maybe other ports.

“As a direct result of recent Offtake and LNG supply requests, Strom may elect to file an amendment to our application to allow transportation of LNG by LNG tanker.”

Does that mean LNG tanker truck, such as I photographed rolling down I-75, and turning onto I-10 for Jacksonville, probably from Pivotal LNG in Georgia?

1 Mile, I-75 Exit 435 for I-10 Jacksonville Tallahassee

Or does it mean LNG tanker ship, like this one? Continue reading

Madison County meeting about Valdosta sewage, plus Tom Potter of WWALS 2018-08-21

Valdosta sewage discussed yesterday morning in Madison, and in the evening on TV and in the WWALS Water Quality Testing Committee meeting in Valdosta, and again this evening at the Madison BOCC. Emma Wheeler, WCTV Eyewitness News, 21 August 2018, Sewage spills prompt concern over Withlacoochee River safety,

Sewage spills in Valdosta polluting the Withlacoochee River, Screenshots

MADISON, Fla. (WCTV) — A North Florida community is fighting for cleaner water.

Community members in Madison are pushing for safer waterways. It stems from concerns over sewage spills at Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Treatment Plant. The most recent of the spills happened in June.

Many of those concerned said their goal is to have no sewage spill into the river.

“These are public resources, they belong to us,” said Thomas Potter with the WWALS Watershed Coalition. “It’s our duty and our responsibility to make sure that they remain clean.”…

Emma Wheeler shot some footage Continue reading