The world’s largest pipeline company ran away from a hint of public scrutiny, like FERC changed its commission meeting date to try to avoid protesters. Maybe… public opinion matters?
The pipeline companies are watching all the opposition. And the opposition is shadowing all the pipeline companies. Score one for the opposition! Plus plenty of opportunities coming up for more concerted opposition against any new fossil fuel tentacles through our countryside or under our rivers.
Mary Landers, Savannah Morning News, 16 September 2015, Kinder Morgan cancels ‘spotlight’ on Elba operations,
Kinder Morgan officials backed out of a scheduled public presentation Wednesday at a local emergency planning meeting.
Carla Roark, a compliance and safety specialist at the Kinder Morgan-owned LNG facility on Elba Island, had been scheduled to give the Chatham Emergency Planning Committee an overview of the plant’s operations in a brief “agency spotlight” at the end of the hourlong meeting at the Civic Center.
Instead, Chatham Emergency Management Agency interim director Dennis Jones opened the meeting by announcing that Kinder Morgan had opted out of the presentation. Jones said Kinder Morgan’s planned presentation had been inaccurately presented on social media and elsewhere as an opportunity to learn about the company’s disaster plan for the proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal at Elba Island.
As a result, the company’s corporate office in Houston pulled the plug on the presentation.
What was this horrible social media? Well, I blogged on SpectraBusters a facebook post from the Coastal Group of the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club. Kinder Morgan replied in a comment on the SpectraBusters post:
The information in your post above is not accurate. Kinder Morgan will not be presenting at this meeting.
Verified, by the way: that comment really was by Kinder Morgan’s corporate office in Houston.
To which I responded in a comment:
Thanks for your attention, but I don’t see anywhere the post above says Kinder Morgan will be presenting at this meeting.
I imagine people would be happy to ask you questions if you appear at that meeting, however.
Well apparently KMI wasn’t happy to be asked questions, because KMI “opted out of the presentation”.
Wait a minute: if KMI cancelled, then KMI was scheduled to present! So who’s being inaccurate? The Coastal Group and SpectraBusters social media that never actually said KMI was going to be there, or the KMI comment saying “Kinder Morgan will not be presenting at this meeting.”?
Maybe the pipeline companies don’t like it that people are piecing together the tentacles of the pipeline squid that’s trying to gouge its way throughout our countryside and under our rivers.
As KC Allan from Savannah puts it:
They’re perpetrating a massive clandestine transference of American commodity wealth from public land into private pockets just like Russia when wall came down. Only they have to sneak it through citizens’ backyards to get to market. Very messy and inconvenient for them. BUT, they have this defunct model of public utility legislation to pervert….
FERC is about as “Federal” as the Federal Reserve, since FERC is 100% funded by the same industries it “regulates”. Which could explain why FERC was so scared of protesters it moved its May 2015 Commission meeting a week earlier to try to avoid them. Didn’t work. Protesters, especially Beyond Extreme Energy, showed up anyway, both inside and out. FERC massively over-reacted, banning recording devices despite FERC’s own rule saying recording is permitted, and five were detailed and three arrested. And that really blew up in FERC’s face, when three months later a judge acquitted one of the arrested. BXE reported:
In acquitting Laura Gubisch, a resident of the District, Judge McCabe chastised the government for how it handled the situation of people wanting to access the main room where commissioners meet, which in the past has been the site of verbal disruptions by members of BXE opposed to FERC’s approval of virtually every gas infrastructure project that comes before it, including interstate pipelines, compressor stations and LNG facilities.
And now FERC has many of those same BXE protesters camped out 24×7 in front of FERC’s offices fasting, already for a week now, until the Pope arrives. Literally, until Pope Francis arrives in DC.
The same pope who used the words of St. Francis of Assisi in June:
This sister [earth] now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
Well, we the sons and daughters of the earth cry out for the earth: enough! No more fossil fuel fracking, pipelines, or LNG export!
Meanwhile, the Kinder Morgan that ran away from presenting in Savannah is the same KMI that has applied to FERC to build a natural gas pipeline across north Florida from Suwannee County to Jacksonville, which is gearing up for LNG export. And that KMI FERC application explicitly says Sabal Trail can connect if it wants to. So there’s a KMI tentacle entwined with the Spectra Energy Sabal Trail tentacle all the way to Jaxport LNG export.
It’s the same KMI that paid a Pennsylvania Police Department to ‘Deter Protests’.
It’s not just a local police department that’s a fossil fuel industry lapdog. The FBI Houston Division violated its own rules in spying on Keystone XL opponents, saying:
“Many of these extremists believe the debates over pollution, protection of wildlife, safety, and property rights have been overshadowed by the promise of jobs and cheaper oil prices. These extremists include those who oppose federal, state, and local governments’ interaction or legal interference in matters of domestic oil and natural gas production.
Well, no, Houston FBI, protecting our own land, water, and air from invaders from Houston is not extremism: it’s the kind of real conservatism and conservation this country was founded on!
You know what’s extreme? This that you said, Houston FBI:
“The Keystone pipeline, as part of the oil and natural gas industry, is vital to the security and economy of the United States.”
No, the fossil fuel industry is not vital to anything any longer but the profits of a few industry executives and investors, and their paid lapdogs in law enforcement and “regulatory” agencies. Solar power is already cheaper, faster, and far cleaner and safer, with wind power to back it up.
You want to investigate some extremists, FBI? How about start by investigating FERC!
Maybe the fossil fuel industry doesn’t want people to realize it is pillaging the planet for a few final bucks before the world turns completely to sun, wind, and water power.
Even the financial industry is losing patience with the fossil fuel industry, pointing out that falling oil and gas prices are going to bankrupt a bunch of fracking companies. And without fracking, no new pipelines and no LNG export.
Maybe if we stop a few pipelines the sun will rise faster as more investors pull out of the pipeline boondoggle.
This is still America, where, despite all the fossil fuel influence on the political system from top to bottom, the First Amendment still applies:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The fossil fuel industry doesn’t like that. Diane Leopold, president of Dominion Energy, pushing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina (the same one Spectra Energy ran away from after numerous local resolutions against it) said in May:
“We need more than good laws and regulations if important infrastructure projects are to get built,” said Leopold, who added she was speaking out to “give voice to an industry.”
“We in the natural gas industry need to speak clearly, speak effectively and — when necessary — speak loudly,” she added. “We need to make all stakeholders aware of how critical it is to our society that we move forward with growing and improving our natural gas infrastructure.”
Well, no, we don’t want the fossil fuel industry to have dominion to take over and pollute our lands, waters, and air!
And sometimes state agencies listen. Houston, Houston, do you read? The Georgia Department of Transportation denied a permit for KMI’s Palmetto Pipeline, after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle publicly opposed that pipeline, espie Kinder Morgan campaign contributions to both of them.
Now it’s time for Gov. Deal to oppose Sabal Trail the same way.
We are the people of America and the world. We want clean air and water and our own property rights. And we’re not going to let the last greedy grasp of the 20th century fossil fuel industry stop us. We’re going to get clean, renewable, 21st century sun, wind, and water power.
A bunch of opportunities to exercise the First Amendment are coming up:
- A string of FERC hearings starting in Albany, GA September 28th.
- A GA-EPD public hearing on an air quality permit for the proposed Albany compressor station, some time in October.
- One, two, or four public hearings on water issues can be called for by the Army Corps of Engineers and GA-EDP.
- And don’t forget the legal hearing now being scheduled for WWALS Watershed Coalition vs. Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC.
As we just demonstrated, the pipeline companies are watching all the opposition. The opposition needs to shadow all the pipeline companies. Like we just did. And we won!
The people are waking up and coordinating from sea to shining sea, from the mountains of British Columbia to the flatlands of Florida. As an Oregonian put it:
“I guess we could stand having a 232-mile IED in our backyard if it is really benefits the public. But who, exactly, is the public here?”
We are the public.
Activists in Brownsville, Texas asked SpectraBusters to help fight five LNG export projects. And lookey here, one Texas LNG operation is cancelled already! No, I’m not taking credit. But the fossil fuel industry can’t tell how much effect the continent-wide opposition had on that cancellation, can it?
Meanwhile, back in Savannah Mary Landers continued:
The emergency planning committee exists to “promote and facilitate the safety of all persons in Chatham County with respect to the potential exposure and or threat of major emergencies and disasters both natural and man-made,” according to its website. Its functions and duties are authorized by the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, in accordance with federal emergency planning and “Right-to-Know” law.
A handful of people who had come to the meeting specifically to address Kinder Morgan challenged Jones, suggesting that safety at the LNG facility is a community concern. Kinder Morgan is planning to convert Elba to an export facility capable of processing 2.5 million tons of LNG per year. The Coastal Group of the Georgia Sierra Club posted on its Facebook page that “a worst-case event would be extremely destructive to lives, property, and the environment.”
“We live here and so do you,” said downtown resident Simona Perry, who is conversant with natural gas issues through her position as vice president/assistant executive director with the nonprofit Pipeline Safety Coalition.
“If Kinder Morgan doesn’t want to talk, does that mean they don’t talk?” asked Steve Willis, of the Coastal Group of the Georgia Sierra Club. “I just don’t think Kinder Morgan should be in charge of the Chatham County government.”
Jones said there had already been public meetings about the facility’s plans and that there would be more, including one he would try to make happen.
“I just said I’ll contact them and see if we can get a community meeting together,” Jones told Willis.
At the meeting’s conclusion a CEMA representative collected names and contact information for those interested in any future community meeting.
No, pipeline companies, frackers, LNG exporters: you can’t have our lands and waters. And if you want them, as the Spartans said to the Persians, Molon Labe! As the Georgians translated for the British: Come and Take It!