The Deal campaign not only accepted Spectra’s PAC money, but then tried to claim (incorrectly) that Michelle Nunn’s campaign for U.S. Senate also accepted Spectra PAC money: so Deal’s campaign took Spectra’s money and then told an untruth about who else might have. The best Spectra’s Andrea Grover could come up with was “economic development”; nevermind Sabal Trail would use out-of-state crews to install its fracked methane pipeline, it would bring almost no jobs to Georgia, and it isn’t even selling gas to Georgia. Neither even tried to implicate Jason Carter’s campaign for governor, because Carter’s campaign finance filings show zero contributions from Spectra’s PAC. The incumbent governors of Alabama and Tennessee, however, did take money from Spectra’s PAC.
As a growing number of concerned Southwest Georgians await federal and state rulings on a proposed 465-mile, $3 billion natural gas pipeline that would run through nine Georgia counties, including Dougherty, Georgia’s governor has accepted a sizeable campaign contribution from the Houston-based energy company that wants to build the pipeline.
Spectra Energy, which will soon complete the pre-application process that will lead to a formal application to build the Alabama-to-Florida — through Georgia — pipeline, has donated $10,000 to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election campaign.
A spokeswoman for the Deal campaign downplayed the significance of the Spectra contribution.
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues all permits and licenses for intrastate pipelines,” Deal for Governor Communications Director Jen Talaber said in an email to The Herald. “However, the governor has instructed EPD Director Jud Turner, an Albany-area native, to closely monitor the situation and keep him informed of all concerns and debate surrounding Sabal Trail. The governor is committed to ensuring that the federal government and permittee protects Georgia residents, businesses and our natural resources as they continue with their licensing and regulatory process.”
In other words, Gov. Deal expects FERC to license the pipeline. Well, that’s one way to protect the citizens of Georgia, I suppose, by rolling over for a company from Houston. Not surprising from the same governor who pushed to abolish a sales tax on natural gas.
The Albany Herald story didn’t mention that Deal’s campaign also accepted campaign contributions from at least three other pipeline companies (Sempra, AECOM, and Consolidated Pipe & Supply Company) for a total of at least $21,300 from such companies, including Spectra.
It did mention the Florida Gov. Rick Scott Spectra stock ownership scandal, and then:
Spectra Energy’s political action committee also donated $10,000 to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s re-election campaign, part of more than $1 million in contributions the energy giant has made to candidates during the 2014 election cycle. Spectra’s donations include $142,181 to Democratic candidates and $742,339 to Republicans.
And $10,000 to Tennessee governor Bill Haslam’s re-election campaign, where where Spectra wants to start its same-size Renaissance Pipeline to run through northeast Alabama and north Georgia past Atlanta. Ben Benton wrote for timefreepress.com of Chattanooga 20 August 2014, Proposed tri-state natural gas pipeline taking shape, and quoted Ms. Grover:
“From a project kickoff standpoint, we continue to reach out to federal, state and local public officials informing them of the project.”
Well, that’s one way to inform state officials: donate to their campaigns.
Bot don’t worry, she also said:
“We’ll send letters and start contacting landowners along our proposed study corridor pending further market feedback.”
Consider yourself warned, north Georgia, AL, and TN landowners: you, too, can get threatening letters from Spectra! While your governor watches and does nothing.
Back to the Albany story:
Some Dougherty County citizens involved in efforts to force Spectra to change the pathway of the pipeline and the location of a compressor station planned just off Newton Road in the southwest quadrant of the county said they’re not surprised by the disclosure of the Spectra contributions.
“It absolutely concerns me,” said Jon Gosa, who listed Beacon Baptist Church members’ concerns about the location of the pipeline and compressor station at a community forum held Monday at Albany’s downtown Government Center. “I think the biggest concern is whether these politicians will be influenced to put profits over people.
“You and I both know that the money contributed by Spectra is a drop in the bucket, but it does seem that the company is busy greasing the wheels for regulatory approval.”
Gosa said Beacon Baptist, at 5818 Newton Road, is located directly across from the proposed site of the compressor station. The pipeline, he noted, would run right up to the church’s property line under the proposed route.
“We’re concerned, frankly, about this company’s track record,” Gosa said. “Our church has been at its current location for 51 years, and we think this project could be detrimental to the health of our members, and especially to our pastor (Reagan Marsh), who lives on church property. We’re concerned about the environment, about the degradation of air quality, the noise pollution. There are just so many issues.”
Oh, and $10,000 is ten times the typical individual campaign contribution, so I wouldn’t call it a drop in the bucket, especially when augmented with more than twice that much from other pipeline companies. Companies that apparently never contributed to any of Nathan Deal’s campaigns (or Haslam’s or Bentley’s) before Spectra wanted to gouge a couple of 100-foot-wide paths for its yard-wide fracked methane pipelines through Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia.