Especially since the Army Corps issued its permit for Sabal Trail last summer,
Florida is swarming against that fossil fuel invader like an ant bed stirred by
a 600-mile-long pipeline stick. That’s great! However, there’s a lot of duplication of effort. And Florida is not the only place Spectra Energy is gouging its pipes: Georgia and Alabama, too, with implications far beyond.
Here is the detailed story and videos of what Ted Yoho FL-03 and others, saw, heard and said on the hike where Sabal Trail proposes to drill under the Suwannee River as well as a new development. Rep. Sanford Bishop GA-02, has sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers asking for a SEIS without even attending this hike or witnessing the sinkholes and other karst topology ‘omitted’ by Sabal Trail’s EIS which was used to receive a FERC and FDEP permit. Rep. Bishop obviously has the common sense to realize that a 36″ high pressure fracked gas line to export natural gas to other countries for the profit of Big Oil, through one of the world’s largest karst (sinkhole) prone areas, which also happens to be THE major recharge/discharge zone for the Floridan Aquifer is a very bad idea. Especially since the Sabal Trail Pipeline (subsidiary LLC of Spectra Energy) is crossing Florida’s sole source of water for millions of citizens in Florida and Georgia, is unnecessary and very dangerous.
We’re still waiting for Congressman Ted Yoho of FLA district 03, to make this a bi-partisan bi-state coalition, as he promised, by asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), BEFORE Spectra Energy’s lobbyist, Steve Tillman, met with our Congressman representing us in Washington.
Please click here for contact info by state for you to contact the Army Corps of Engineers and request for a SEIS on the Sabal Trail Pipeline to be initiated and sign a quick and easy petition asking Congress for the same by Gulf Restoration Network.
The Hike At Suwannee River State Park Proposed Pipeline Crossing
On May 15, 2016, representatives of nine environmental groups, some from as far away as Washington, DC, geologist Dennis Price, Suwannee County BOCC member Clyde Fleming, and other officials as well as concerned citizens from Florida and Georgia met with elected officials, including US Congressman Ted Yoho at Suwannee River State Park to discuss the omissions and discrepancies, discovered by Chris Mericle of WWALS, in Sabal Trail Transmission LLC’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Chris Mericle and geologist Dennis Price led the hike of the pipeline route on the Hamilton County side of the Suwannee to allow these officials and others to see for themselves the numerous sinkholes in and around the pipeline route as well as answer questions from Congressman Ted Yoho (see his videoed response later in this article) as well as other officials and concerned individuals.
Falmouth’s Cathedral Cave System & It’s Endangerment
One other very important discrepancy was the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System which Sabal Trail claims is 100′ underground, a trip to Falmouth springs will show you that is more like 30′. Dye tests put in at Falmouth have shown this cave system is a network of underground caves that are connected to Lime Run Spring and other springs at the Suwannee River State Park. This cave system will be crossed at Hwy 90 just 100 or less feet from Pilgrim’s Pride and about 1/4 mile or so from Falmouth Springs. Sabal Trail plans on jacking up the highway and boring their pipeline underneath atop the Falmouth Cathedral Cave system which is part of our aquifer. See this picture to the right here which shows a sinkhole right off highway 90 that is 50 to 75′ across and at least 30 feet deep. To the left of this pictured sinkhole is another in the making which is holding some water but the clay plug could go at anytime.
As John Quarterman, President of WWALS the nominal host for this event stated before
the hike to Congressman Yoho our main objective is:
“What we’re hoping for is a bipartisan bi-state coalition to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to open a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) …. A lot of it has been ignored by Sabal Trail, rejected by FERC, or not even listened to by FERC.”
“Rep. Bishop GA-02 did write a letter to the Corps asking for a SEIS. We’re still hoping for letters from Ted Yoho FL-03, Austin Scott GA-08, and others.” – jsq
Governor Scott’s self appointed Florida DEP administrators signed off on the Sabal Trail Pipeline based on Sabal Trail’s EIS that got them the Florida permit and FDEP admitted they have never visited the river crossing in Administrative Court by these same administrators. In other words FDEP signed off on Sabal Trail Pipeline’s own Environmental Study without ever doing their job which is to protect Florida’s environment. Why? Well it appears Governor Rick Scott is invested in Spectra Energy and thus this pipeline as was reported in The Florida Bulldog (formerly The Broward Bulldog). Story found here:
When is a supplement – SEIS – to the EIS required?
A supplement to a draft or final EIS (is required when any of the following occurs:
An agency makes substantial changes to the proposed action that are relevant to its environmental concerns.
There are significant new circumstances or information relevant to the environmental effects that have bearing on the proposed action or its impacts.
If an agency decides to supplement its EIS, it prepares, circulates and files the supplemental EIS in the same fashion as a draft or final EIS.
It is obvious that there are significant new circumstances or information relevant to the environmental effects that have bearing on the proposed action or its impacts concerning the Sabal Trail Pipeline.
A Simplified Explanation of a SEIS
“Think of our regulatory agencies (yes all of them, including the EPA, Army Corps and FERC) as the DMV. It is always up to the person who wants the license or the “permit” to bring the documents needed to get their license, in this case Sabal Trail’s. The DMV just tells Sabal Trail what documents they have to provide & then reviews them.
Now if your insurance company (aka Gulf Restoration Network or whomever) tells the DMV, hey- this person is a risk and we can prove in these documents provided by our experts that what they are telling you is not true” the DMV reviews the two parties documents and decides who is right. In this way the burden for providing evidence is always placed on the person asking for the permit, or those who don’t want them to have it. The burden is never on the DMV to do a 3rd “independent study” separately to show that the driver is safe, or that the insurance company is right for one drivers license request. They just look at the documents in front of them.
With a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study we have the opportunity to be the insurance company to Sabal Trail, and tell the Army Corps that they are too big of a risk to be given a license. AND if the Army Corps (aka the DMV) gives them the permit anyway, we can sue because we put it on the record that they knew about our concerns and didn’t make the right decision.” — Thank you to Johanna deGraffenreid of Gulf Restoration Network for this easy to understand explanation.
Geologist Dennis Price and another private geologist have done independent geological surveys of the pipeline route, to be bored 675′ off bank under the Suwannee River as has the individual who owns the property across the river where the pipeline will exit from underneath the river onto his property. Their reports as well as what can be seen with the naked eye onsite contradict what Sabal Trail has submitted to FERC and FDEP to receive their permits, that the closest sinkholes to the pipeline are 750′ away. They also omitted the fact there are karst fractures — future sinkholes. You do not have to be a geologist to know that sinkholes are prevalent in Florida and especially in the Suwannee River area, as is flooding in Suwannee and all of the counties this pipeline and related compressor stations will be located. In fact the Sabal Trail pipeline follows the USGS Map of Karst (sinkhole prone land in Florida) to the tee.
The Compressor Station in O’Brien Florida
Concerning the compressor stations — this one in O’Brein (not in Hildreth as Sabal claims). Read this comment on the compressor station and pipeline by organic farm owner and IT professional David Shields: “I moved here with my family from Jacksonville. Moved here to do organic farming…. Unfortunately perhaps going to be neighbors to a time bomb, or what they call a compressor station, built by Sabal Trail, so we’re obviously in opposition to that. We have quite a few children and being a quarter mile a way is not not exactly something we like to do, or anybody.” Note that emissions from compressor stations have been shown to cause nosebleeds (caused by formaldehyde) which elevates blood pressure and a myriad of additional health effects — especially with children.
The Sabal Trail “Hildreth” compressor station is actually located in O’Brien 1/4 mile from residential communities. Compressor stations not only emit dangerous chemicals into the air ( benzene, formaldehyde) they also pollute the soil (thus groundwater) with methane and the toxic chemicals used to clean them. The pipeline and compressor station will use millions of gallons of water to maintain and clean them both. This is done on a regular basis. Suwannee County cannot afford such high uses of valuable groundwater .
If this compressor station was to blow up, and Spectra Energy has had them do that, it would wipe out everything within at least a half mile of it’s location. Thus the Shields and all other residents in the area are in constant danger not only from the compressor station but also pipeline ruptures which with a pipeline that size – 36″ – that Sabal Trail proposes is catastrophic. Everything within at least a mile of the pipeline would be destroyed as has been seen in recent pipeline ruptures which do not always include explosions but can hurl pipe from the pipeline at a great distance at times leaving craters the size of large meteorite activity.
Additionally this compressor station is not a small unit, it is a large compressor station that uses two large turbine units and is set for expansion to double it’s capacity by 2021.
The EIS performed by Sabal Trail was used by the Federal Energy Commission (FERC), which is funded by the oil and gas pipeline industry, and Florida Department of Environment (FDEP) to issue a permit for the Sabal Trail fracked liquid gas transmission pipeline to carry this gas to a new Central Florida Hub south of Orlando, Fla., where it will interconnect with the two existing natural gas pipelines that currently serve central and southern Florida and have NOT met capacity. – From FPL’s Website
“Sabal Trail Transmission: Sabal Trail Transmission, a joint venture of Spectra Energy Corp. and NextEra Energy, Inc., will include approximately 465 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline that will originate in southwestern Alabama and transport natural gas to Georgia and Florida. It will terminate at a new Central Florida Hub south of Orlando, Fla., where it will interconnect with the two existing natural gas pipelines that currently serve central and southern Florida. The Sabal Trail pipeline will be capable of transporting more than 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to serve local distribution companies, industrial users and natural gas-fired power generators in the Southeast.”
“Florida Southeast Connection: Florida Southeast Connection, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy. To connect with FPL’s operations, Florida Southeast Connection will construct a separate, 126-mile pipeline from Sabal Trail’s Central Florida Hub to FPL’s Martin Clean Energy Center in Indiantown, Fla.
The two projects are expected to be completed and begin delivering natural gas to FPL’s system in May 2017. FPL will purchase approximately 400 million cubic feet per day beginning in 2017, and will increase to about 600 million cubic feet per day in 2020.
Central Florida Hub south of Orlando, Fla., where it will interconnect with the two existing natural gas pipelines that currently serve central and southern Florida. The Sabal Trail pipeline will be capable of transporting more than 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to serve local distribution companies, industrial users and natural gas-fired power generators in the Southeast.”
Now do you really think that the liquid natural gas difference between 600 million cubic feet and the 1 billion cubic feet per day is needed by south Florida industries? Perhaps these distribution centers FPL mentions on it’s website are actually the export terminals that are already permitted to export natural gas to other countries such as South America, The Bahamas, etc. at five facilities including Jaxport. In fact in recent responses from Sabal Trail they have admitted the exporting of this fracked gas. See Sabal Trail’s recent response to Rep. Bishop, WWALS, GRN, individuals and more here (click PDF file).
Sabal Trail Transmission LLC is owned by Spectra Energy. NextEra (owner of FPL) and Duke Energy are also owners of Sabal Trail Transmission LLC which has no active board and one active corporate owner who is an employee of Spectra Energy. Sabal Trail Transmission LLC will be defunct as a company when the pipeline is finished with Spectra Energy taking over as operator of this pipeline. Spectra Claims they monitor their pipelines 24/7, yet they did not detect their pipeline rupture in May of 2015 under the Arkansas River. It was not reported until a tugboat operator reported damage to his boat to the coast guard over 24 hours later. His tugboat was damaged by a pipeline casing that contained evidence of charred cement indicating an explosion.
Spectra Energy has one of the worst EPA violation records in history including spills of PCBS and other deadly toxins. Spectra Energy has been fined by the pipeline regulatory agency PHMSA for poor or no maintenance practices involving ruptures under the Arkansas River – imagine that happening under the Suwannee River – and elsewhere. Spectra’s safety record is alarming to say the least AND they carry no insurance for accidents , leaks, ruptures, damages , lives — no insurance at all. If this pipeline is installed we are on our own — period.
Ted Yoho Comments Before the Hike
An excerpt from the transcript of a video taken before the hike by John Quarterman of WWALS:
“You know, you guys have been great advocates against the trail coming through here, and I understand that and I hear you. I represent you guys. I don’t represent Spectra. And if your concerns and my concerns to are, when you drill under a river bed, even though they can tell me, it’s not going to cause a problem, I don’t know what’s under there. And my concern is like yours, if you drill under there, if you hit a karst, or you hit [a conduit] or close to one of those shoots going down in the limerock, what happens if you hit the wrong one. That’s my concern as yours is. Yes, I want the energy, but is there a better way to bring it in….
The thing is, we’re setting, this generation here, is setting, or making decisions that will affect Florida for 50, 60, 100 years. Let’s get it right, and I’ll work with you.”
Video of Ted Yoho After Suwannee River Crossing Hike With Transcript
Transcript of Ted Yoho Video
“Rep. Ted Yoho FL-03 turned to Chris Mericle and said:
And I want to thank you. You’ve been diligent, ever since I got into office, bringing this to our attention. And to see the discrepancies between what was reported and what we see first hand, I mean these are questions that have to be answered. And so we’ll fight to get those answers before it goes anywhere else. You have my commitment on that.
And, uh, we have to have that balance. Because I know not everybody thinks like I do, and I know people will say “thank God” [laughs]. But not everybody thinks the way you do. But in between we have to put that common goal. And it’s hard to find that common goal. It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it’s an American issue. And it’s a Florida issue, and we have to make sure, like you said [gesturing at jsq], generations from now they’ll look back at us. And I want them to say, “you know what? those guys were smart; they did a good thing”.
I think that’s all of our goals, and so you have my commitment to make sure. And we’ll weigh in with you guys to let you know which way it’s going.
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson spoke up:
One more thing on that, we hope that you will take those letters that have already been written to the Army Corps of Engineers, that’s their next line. All we want are true environmental impact studies done, not the one…
Rep. Yoho interjected:
No, they need to be, though. Because I mean, that’s not a problem. We’ve got a great relationship with them and I’ll ask them. They were just up in our office and we’ll say we need to revisit this before we go any further.
I’m real concerned about that.
John S. Quarterman added:
We have a letter drafted for you and Congressmen Scott and Bishop to consider.
Is it in the package you gave me?
It’s in the bus, I’ll get it for you, and I’ll send you the PDF.
Yeah, make sure we get it. We have a great team of people that work with us up there, and and we’ll make sure we weigh in on it properly.”
Ted Yoho Meets With Spectra Energy Lobbyist & Does a 360 – His press Release on May 18, 2016
Yoho Statement on Proposed Sabal Trail Pipeline
May 18, 2016 Press Release
Washington D.C. – Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL-03) released the following statement on the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline:
“After reviewing the multiple studies performed by the geological engineers and reading the reports and opinions of the many agencies involved in the permitting of the Sabal Trail pipeline, I believe the questions and concerns involving the pipeline have been answered satisfactorily.
“When infrastructure projects are proposed, much anxiety develops. To give the appropriate authorities the opportunity to put these fears to easy, projects like this take a long time to get approval.
“After the required hearings, studies, engineering testing, and comment periods, multiple agencies (such as EPA, Federal EPA, State EPA, FERC, NEPA, Army Corp and a host of other agencies) can weigh in and approve the project. This process should give all concerned a certain level of comfort and trust. After all, these agencies provide the most stringent reviewers of any project.
“I believe the Sabal Trail organization has met these criteria. It has already under gone Administrative court reviews and has satisfied these reviews. Therefore, we should feel more than confident that this pipeline has met the highest standards.
“Once completed, this project will help fulfill the future requirements of Florida’s growing energy needs for years to come while protecting our sensitive environment.”
Now all was not lost at this meeting and on this hike despite Congressman Yoho reversing his stance after meeting with Spectra Energy International’s Lobbyist, we experienced a well organized and beautiful meeting and hike with a group of other officials including Marihelen Wheeler Gainesville candidate for Florida House District 21, Jerry Bullard of Jasper Hamilton County candidate for Florida House District 10, Mary Louise Hester regional director in Tallahassee for Senator Bill Nelson, Noah Valenstein Director of SRWMD, Clyde Fleming Suwannee County Commissioner, Beth Burnham Hamilton County Commissioner and 40 or so like minded people who all care about Florida’s present resources and the state of those resources we leave for the next seven generations. Thank you to all of you who took the time on a Sunday
morning, especially Suwannee BOCC official Clyde Fleming, to let our voices be heard and show what SBOCC, Hamilton County BOCC have already seen the ‘omissions’ and ‘discrepancies’ on this pipeline route. Both counties have written letters to the Army Corps Of Engineers asking for a SEIS before this pipeline is allowed to proceed. Marion County also has requested a SEIS due to ‘omissions’ and ‘discrepancies’ in Sabal Trail’s EIS concerning the Marion County area.
Thank you to Thomas Lynn reporter for the Suwannee Democrat and Jake Galvin reporter for the Florida Bulldog for attending and reporting on this event
Jake stayed with us all day accompanying us on a trip to Falmouth to discuss the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System which extends to Suwannee River State Park and to the site by Pilgrims Pride site where the Sabal Trail pipeline (pictured above) will be bored under HWY 90 just around 70 feet from a 50′ wide and at least 30′ deep active sinkhole.
Here are very inspiring videos of that day on the beautiful Suwannee River:
Bobby C. Billie, spiritual and family leader of the Independent Miccosukee Simanolee Nation, A Beautiful Prayer in His Native Tongue
Wise and Noteworthy Comments by Jennifer Rubiello, Dennis Price & John Quarterman
Florida’s Economy Will be Impacted By Sabal Trail & Other Pipelines As Property Values Will Decrease & Florida’s Resources
This battle to protect our water, resources and very lives is not over. Suwannee, Hamilton, and Marion counties have sent letters to Army Corps of Engineers to ask for a SEIS rather than have an industry company, Sabal Trail, do it’s own study. That is like the fox watching the hen house. With FERC funded by the same industry it regulates as well as our own Governor Scott being personally invested in the Sabal Trail pipeline AND the man who is responsible for hiring the people at FDEP as well as all Florida agencies — you can bet our safety and well being have not even been considered. This project will bring zero long term jobs with very few low paying jobs, as Spectra and Sabal Trail will bring their own crews out of Texas to lay the pipeline. Local jobs will be limited to food service, some paving, rock hauling etc. and will only last about 60 days, if that, before the crews move on and temporary local jobs end. Again our governor attempts to line his pockets — his wealth has skyrocketed ever since he took office — all on the backs of people desperate for work who only seem to get minimum wage jobs with no health insurance.
Florida is an unique and ecologically sensitive state whose economy depends upon mostly tourism and ecotourism. For instance Suwannee River State Park where Sabal Trail proposes to bore under the Suwannee River putting the prings there as well as all outdoor activities at risk. The report Outdoor Recreation and Trails states, according to the Florida Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, consumers spent $38.3 Billion last year, creating nearly 330,000 jobs, generated more than $2.5 Billion in State and local taxes as well as $10.7 billion in wages. The Sabal Trail Pipeline will not even touch these figures in jobs, taxes or consumer spending. In fact if this pipeline is allowed to be installed, there are more pipelines already planned throughout the state, including a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline to run from Tampa area carrying Sabal Trail Fracked gas to export out of Jacksonville which is crossing near the Ichetucknee and Sante Fe Rivers in Gilchrist, Suwannee and Columbia counties. This is not taking into account the fracking that the oil industry is pushing with the blessings of our oil/gas invested Governor and his self appointed agencies.
Let us not let Florida become like Pennsylvania and the other beautiful states ruined by the unnecessary fracking and pipeline industries. Our mainstay for our economy, tourism, will see a drop, there has already has seen a drop last year as natural resources such as springs, beaches, and other one of a kind natural resources are ruined beyond repair by the oil and gas industry (BP Oil Spill) and lack of adequate protections by our state government. Imagine Florida crisscrossed with gas /oil pipelines, roads with bomb trucks and train bombs on both coasts and it’s ports filled with dangerous gas export terminals …. or imagine an economy based on natural wonders seen nowhere else. An economy that is safe for the people and the environment as our natural treasures – springs, rivers, waterways and Floridan Aquifer are protected not exploited. Let us not sit back and watch as oil companies come for our resources much like carpetbaggers for THEIR profit alone leaving our one of a kind state in ruins.
What can YOU Do?
First please contact your Army Corps of Engineers in your state to request that a Supplemental Environmental Study be performed before they issue a permit for the pipeline and then please sign the petition linked below to contact Congress to ask them for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study.
Florida ACE office contact:
Jacksonville District Reg. Div.
Jacksonville Permits Section
Attn: Mr. Mark R. Evans
P.O. Box 4970
Jacksonville, FL 32232
Georgia ACE contact:
Attn: Mr. Terry C. Kobs
1104 N. Westover Boulevard, Unit 9
Albany, GA 31707
Alabama ACE Contact:
Mobile District Reg. Div.
Montgomery Field Office
Attn: Mr. James S. Cherry II
605 Maple Street
Building 1429 Room 105
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6017
Link to online petition by GRN to Congress asking for a SEIS:
Note US congress is responsible for disbursing oil/ gas industry funds to FERC
Get involved and educate yourself. Contact your legislators especially here in Florida and let them know that you oppose the Sabal Trail pipeline, any other pipeline or other activity such as fracking, that would disturb Florida’s limestone based land and connected aquifer. The Floridan Aquifer of which 97% of it’s recharge/discharge zone is located in Suwannee County Fla. A county that Sabal Trail/Spectra Energy has included in all 12 of it’s pipeline route plans.
Ask questions, visit http://spectrabusters.org and read the history of this pipeline saga. We are available to answer your questions, please send email to the SpectraBusters contact address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida — The Sunshine State — is one of only four states that does not allow Solar Power freedom to it’s citizens. If you have read this far then you know why. Be sure and vote NO on amendment one — the fake solar amendment put on the Aug 30 ballot by Florida’s monopoly utility companies and the Koch Brother’s – and YES on amendment 4, written by the Florida legislator to remove tax barriers for those who wish to install Solar power. Let us take Florida out of the dark ages and into the light as our neighboring state Georgia has — they are #1 in solar power growth.
Also support Floridians for Solar Choice by gathering petitions to put an amendment on the 2018 ballot for the right to decide where you buy your power from. Energy freedom and Energy Democracy for Florida’s citizens.
Remember the legacy we leave our children, their children and so forth is for at least seven generations. Let us have them say we did the right thing by them.
All the companies behind the Southeast Market Pipelines Project have representatives
sitting in those back rooms voting on draft bills on an equal basis with state legislators, according to the latest information publicly availlable.
Back in the news a year after an Atlanta TV station reported on an ALEC meeting in Savannah, ALEC is not just for Georgia, every state has legislators
in that super-lobbying group, including Florida and Albama, taking those draft bills back to their legislatures and often getting them passed.
Now you know why the same bad bills to ban home rule on fracking, to block renwable energy portfolios, to impose a solar tax, and of course to promote fracked methane pipelines, show up at the same times in states all across the country.
The Georgia House on March 22 voted by a historic 34 ayes to 128 nays
to deny river-drilling easements for Sabal Trail, led among others by
Rep. Winfred Dukes of Albany, where Sabal Trail wants to drill under the
Flint River and build a compressor station in an environmental justice community.
Eminent domain is a tough pill to swallow for Americans who take their property rights very seriously, and the aggressive moves by Sabal Trail to seize property for a natural gas pipeline running through three southern states is turning into a drama of immense proportions.
The pipeline company insists that it already has federal and court
authority to seize the property under the Natural Gas Act. Sabal
claims its project must be under construction by June 21 and in
service, by May 1, 2017.
Sabal Trail pipeline
According to maps provided by the utilities, the Sabal pipeline
would come through the Four Corners area of northwestern Osceola
County, dip south of Walt Disney World property, cross Interstate 4
near Celebration and connect with a hub of pipelines just west of
Reunion Resort Golf Course.
The pipeline companies want rehearings, apparently because they don’t like the restrictions the
FERC order put on them, so maybe we’ll actually see a rehearing.
The other four rehearing requests all don’t like what FERC certified Sabal Trail to do,
and some have new reasons beyond what was in the FEIS or the docket beforehand.
Poor FERC! Nobody likes your Order!
How about stop permitting new fossil fuel projects and promote renewable sun and wind power instead?