Sabal Trail and FSC want FERC to avoid considering fracking

Of course FPL and Spectra don’t want FERC to look at fracking, but nothing in FERC’s own rules says it can’t, and a recent court case might be a precedent to get it to do so. Maybe Audubon Florida is discovering trying to tinker with pipeline routes is like signing up for the 1885 Berlin Conference that divided Africa by drawing lines on a map. Sierra Club Florida, Georgia, and Alabama already understand the only appropriate route for that fracked methane boondoggle is no route, with new power from the sun.

I’ve added a few links to these quotes from what Susan Salisbury wrote for the Palm Beach Post 5 May 2014, Fracking not an issue with pipeline for FPL’s plants, firms say,

Federal regulators charged with permitting a $3.5 billion 591-mile natural gas pipeline that would extend from Alabama to Martin County don’t have to consider the environmental impact of fracking, the companies that want to build the pipeline say.

In documents filed Friday and Monday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, officials for both Southeast Connection and Sabal Trail said the impacts of natural gas production, such as exploration, drilling and processing are not generally considered by FERC. The pipeline will use both “fracked” gas from shale as well as offshore sources.

“Not generally considered” is not the same as can’t consider.

FERC guidelines state it will approve a project “where the public benefits outweigh the project’s adverse impacts.”

That’s the big question, isn’t it? What are these alleged public benefits, and do they outweigh the adverse effects? When will FERC start actually requiring FPL and Spectra and Williams to demonstrate the public benefits, as FERC’s own certificate requirements say FERC must do? And there’s nothing in those certificate requirements that says FERC cannot consider fracking among the adverse effects, along with the numerous other adverse effects.

Those who oppose the project, including SpectraBusters, which represents thousands of people in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, say the pipeline will increase the amount of fracked gas coming into Florida and say the pipeline is not necessary….

John Quarterman, a SpectraBusters board member, said Monday “FPL knows fracking is a big issue and wants to avoid it.”

How could FPL not know?

Opponents have also raised the issue greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas.

Marian Ryan, the Sierra Club of Florida’s conservation chair, said, “Our three state chapters are adamantly opposed to it. We need to move away from petroleum and gas. Fossil fuels are finite. We have got to move forward with alternative energy.”

Here’s the joint statement by the Florida, Georgia, and Alabama Sierra Club chapters, which begins:

The Georgia, Florida, and Alabama Chapters of the Sierra Club oppose the 650 mile Sabal Trail Transmission natural gas pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas extracted from Pennsylvania and Texas through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

Further statements, articles, and FERC ecomments by each of those three Sierra Club chapters are linked on the Allies page.

Back to the Palm Beach Post article:

Charles Lee, Audubon Florida’s advocacy director, said Audubon’s focus has been on the proposed route which cuts across important tracts of conservation lands such as the Green Swamp area in Sumter, Polk and Lake counties.

“The pipeline appears that some engineer in a dark room somewhere got out a bunch of maps and drew a pencil line in a diagonal across the land without taking a particular look at what that pencil line is crossing,” Lee said.

Charles Lee is beginning to sound like James Ryder: “It seems that they just draw lines at random”. Maybe if Audubon Florida had looked at existing pipeline maps they would have known this before they decided to support this unnecessary and environmentally damaging boondoogle.

Instead, they’ve signed up for the 1885 Berlin Conference in which European colonial powers divided Africa by drawing lines on a map without regard for rivers, wetlands, or local cultures. Now it’s fossil fuel companies drawing lines through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida (and Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts…).

However, Audubon has generally been sympathetic to natural gas as the cleanest possible fossil fuel, much preferred over coal and oil, Lee said.

As all three Sierra Club chapters keep pointing out, solar power is far cleaner than any fossil fuel, uses no water, and threatens no wetlands. Maybe Audubon Florida will look up and see the sun. And maybe that sun will bring to light the lack of public benefits of this very adverse pipeline project.

FPL has entered into binding contracts with Florida Southeast Connection and Sabal Trail.

So what? As Florida Sierra Club pointed out to FERC 21 April 2014, Florida and the public have a fee interest in these lands. Landowners’ titles to their land and Florida’s responsibility for public lands, waters, air, and resources should outweigh FPL’s contracts, which no doubt have termination clauses anyway.

In October the Florida Public Service Commission determined there is a need for the proposed pipeline, which would be the state’s third major pipeline.

The commenters are asking that the commission “second guess” the PSC, [FSC attorney William] Lavarco said.

Exactly! Since the Florida Public Service Commission (FL PSC) refused to entertain Beth Gordon’s petition to FL PSC against the pipeline (they said she didn’t have standing because she wasn’t an FPL customer, even though the pipeline route was through her land), somebody needs to second-guess FL PSC’s purely economic decision that never mentioned the words water or environment or solar even once. FERC is an obvious choice, as even FL PSC noted in its decision: “FPL is not obligated by law to obtain our approval to enter into a long-term gas transportation contracts for the projects, as both contracts are governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).” And if FERC won’t do it, somebody needs to second-guess FERC.

Friday’s FERC slapdown by the DC Circuit Court for segmenting pipeline project reviews avoided mentioning fracking, but still set a precedent that FERC has to include meaningful analysis of cumulative effects instead of just approving pipeline company lines on a map of Florida like the colonial powers in Berlin drew on Africa in 1885.


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