The evitability of Andrea Grover’s fracked methane pipeline

If they can’t even survey for it, they can’t build it, which may be why Andrea Grover just chanted desperately in three newspapers “the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline is moving forward.” Nevermind almost everyone who has spoken up about it is against it. She didn’t say anything about taking your land for for profit for her company in Houston and for LNG export that would raise U.S. natural gas prices. But one thing she did say is why that can happen with no further permits if this pipeline should go forward.

Almost everybody opposed the pipeline at the “more than 50 open houses and public meetings” Ms. Grover bragged about in the Orlando Sentinel, in the Suwannee Democrat, and in the Moultrie Observer. She didn’t mention that opposition, but you can see it for yourself in these videos of the FERC Scoping Meeting in Moultrie, GA 5 March 2014. You can see Ms. Grover chewing it all over in the background, so it’s not like she doesn’t know about all the opposition.

Ms. Grover in the newspapers mentioned in passing that it’s supposed to be an “open-access natural gas pipeline”, but didn’t say what that means. It means fracked methane from Pennsylvania or Texas can be shipped through that pipeline for LNG export from Florida without any further permits.

See FERC Order 436 “Open Access Blueprint” of 1985 and FERC Order 636 “Restructuring of Pipeline Services” of 1992. As Order 636 puts it:

Order No. 436 instituted open-access, non-discriminatory transportation to permit downstream gas users such as LDCs and industrials to buy gas directly from gas merchants in the production area and to ship that gas via the interstate pipelines.

So those three already-authorized LNG export operations at the Florida end of the Transco -> Sabal -> FSC triple pipeline can buy gas from whatever fracking field they want, have it shipped through the pipeline, and export it. That’s what FERC’s John Peconom was referring to in Moultrie when he said LNG export was the end user’s decision.

As near as I can tell FERC 436 open-access does not mean that anybody along the pipeline can tap into it; only at the end points. That’s why Mindy Bland pointed out to the Lowndes County Commission that Sabal Trail can’t use Georgia eminent domain. As attorney Bill Langdale spelled out in response to a claim of Georgia eminent domain by Sabal Trail’s attorney, “Any unauthorized entry by Sabal Trail will be treated as trespass by our client.” And a landowner’s attorney used the same argument in Leesburg, GA last week, with no rebuttal from a Sabal Trail attorney.

This FERC 436 open-access feature isn’t optional for Sabal Trail. As the U.S. Energy Information Administration explains about FERC Order 436:

New facilities would be considered in the public interest if the pipeline company assumed the risk for the project.

Remember, “public interest” is what FERC is required to balance against any downsides of a pipeline.

So “open-access” helps explain Ms. Grover’s air of inevitability.

Yet it ain’t necessarily so. Sure, FERC is a rubberstamp machine funded by the same companies it permits. But even FERC has denied at least two pipeline permits. Ms. Grover didn’t mention any of that, either. Her proposed pipeline is quite evitable, no matter how much she chants. And the longer it takes, the more likely it won’t ever happen.

Her Orlando Sentinel puff piece makes a lot of promises about safety, yet again without mentioning Spectra’s many safety violations. Spectra reps have long been unfamiliar with Spectra’s safety record.

Here’s her best line:

Not only is safety of the utmost importance to Sabal Trail, but we are looking forward to bringing natural gas, the cleanest of all conventional fuels, to the Southeast region.

See what she did there? She said “of all conventional fuels”. Nevermind that by Sabal Trail’s own numbers solar panels would take only half the acreage of their proposed pipeline to produce just as much energy. And solar energy requires no fuel, so no fracking, no export, no air or water pollution, and no eminent domain and no trees or wetlands gouged or rivers dug under because solar panels go on rooftops and on land that the landowners want to use for solar power. Plus solar produces jobs and lower electric bills right where they’re needed. In months, not years.

Maybe you’d like to comment on one of those newspaper stories and mention some things yourself.

When Ms. Grover led her posse of seven Spectra specialists to Leesburg, Georgia, last week, the judge didn’t much cotton to her lawyer’s air of inevitability. Ms. Grover got almost nothing of what she moseyed down to Leesburg for. And Spectra will have to haunt Lee County, Georgia again for a jury trial about trespass by some of Spectra’s pipeline hands.

That may go about like when Beth Gordon asked Andrea Grover a question that wasn’t on her script. Nope; she wasn’t answering that. And stonewalling may not look good to a jury.

How does it look to you, the landowner, or the local citizen whose taxes will end up paying for any accidents if this pipeline is built?

-jsq