FERC gets an earful in Florida

FERC’s John Peconom admitted FERC staff had never recommended denying a pipeline permit, and again admitted that the Commission had only ever denied two. He got an earful from local citizens in Marion County, Florida last night. The last FERC Scoping Meeting is tonight at the Citrus Tower in Clermont, Lake County, Florida.

Bill Thompson wrote for the Ocala StarBanner yesterday, Regulators get an earful over planned gas pipeline,

DUNNELLON — The last time an energy company installed its lines across Frank Atkins’ family’s property, grave markers in a family-owned cemetery were displaced.

The 85-year-old said that after Florida Power Corp. came through in the 1960s, he could not find the burial plot holding his mother, who died giving birth to him.

Now that a natural gas pipeline is slated to pass through his Citrus County land, Atkins said he’s concerned the one-acre cemetery, where more family members are buried, might be affected again.

“I know there are other ways they can go without coming through there, because I’ve been there all my life,” Atkins told federal energy regulators Wednesday night.

“I don’t want that through there. Enough’s in there by having the electrical line, and now they coming with a gas line. Our property won’t be no value at all.”

Atkins was one of about two dozen people on Wednesday who urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to reject the proposed route for the 36-inch-wide pipeline planned by Sabal Trail Transmission LLC.

There’s much more in the article, which sounds like most of the other FERC Scoping Meetings, with John Peconom saying it’s early in the process, FERC is just gathering information, etc., with almost all speakers strongly opposing a pipeline:

The crowd gave Peconom’s team an earful.

Accidents, environmental wreckage, the potential of a ruined water supply, global warming and contributing to hydraulic fracturing dominated the list of concerns expressed by pipeline opponents.

For example, Harry Patterson, treasurer of the Green Party in Florida, called the continued burning of fossil fuels “caveman technology in the digital age.”

“In view of the looming climatic catastrophe we’re facing, the proposed pipeline isn’t just a move in the wrong direction. It’s running at full speed in the wrong direction,” he said.

“The environment in this area — the springs, the state park, the Withlacoochee River, Lake Rosseau — this is lifeblood of our town,” said Gordon Hart.

That’s Central Florida’s Withlacoochee River, but the same applies to the south Georgia and north Florida Withlacoochee River, which the proposed pipeline would cross twice. The WWALS Watershed Coalition has filed as an intervenor with FERC. Formally that doesn’t happen until Sabal Trail enters the permit process, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, in Dunnellon:

Other critics drew applause by questioning whether property for the pipeline would be taken under eminent domain, only to have the product shooting through Sabal Trail’s pipes to be sold overseas.

Peconom did little to assuage the fears when he confirmed, in response to critics’ questions, his agency track record on such projects.

The commission itself had rejected few projects, he said, and FERC staff had never recommended denial of one.

Here are details on those two denials, both of which were for LNG projects with associated pipelines. So FERC has never denied a standalone pipeline project like this one.

Does that seem right to you?


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