VDT starts to catch up about pipeline

Spectra used Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle’s question in answer the Valdosta Daily Times about that natural gas pipeline from Alabama to Florida. And notice how they’re saying Tallapoosa County, Alabama now, and not mentioning PCB-polluted Anniston, Alabama as the source of the pipeline? The VDT map conveniently clips Alabama completely out of the picture. How about we clip Georgia out of the pipeline and install solar power instead?

Matthew Woody wrote on the front page of the VDT today, Pipeline intersects area: Sabal Trail project runs from Alabama to Florida,

Andrea Grover, Public Affairs Representative from Spectra Energy, said that initially the pipe was going to be a closed system, but Spectra Energy decided to turn the pipe into an “open access pipe,” meaning that any area along the pipe could potentially tap into the system to either receive gas from or supply gas to the pipeline. Describing the pipeline as a highway, Grover said it will have on-ramps and off-ramps. They provide the transportation of the gas, and once the pipe is in service, communities are encouraged to work with Sabal.

Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle suggested letting locals tap it less than a week ago.

Note that weasel word: “potentially”. I could “potentially” tap into the two (2) pipelines that cross my property, but decades they’ve been there and that’s never happened.

When asked about the benefits of the pipe, Grover stated, “The economic benefits are critical.”

The company will pay taxes, provide both permanent and temporary jobs, and natural gas to the cities it travels through (if the cities choose to tap into the pipeline).

So is it the cities’ choice or the pipeline company’s choice? And so much for anybody smaller than that along the route tapping into it.

Pipeline points with streets The VDT noticed the Option B LAKE already documented on 5 August:

The pipe’s route has an “Option A” and an “Option B.” Option A is shifted more west which minimizes the impact on the residents of Lowndes County. Option B would bypass Brooks County, but split Lowndes straight down the middle. To minimize the impact of the pipe, most of the pipe will be buried at a minimum of three feet.

Only three feet? The two pipelines through my property are at four feet. Yet they still take up a forty foot right of way, and this proposed pipeline RoW would be even wider.

Landowners will be able to resume normal activity on their property, except no permanent structures can be built over the pipeline because they would impede with the maintenance of the pipe. If the land above the pipe was used for agricultural use, then that land will still be able to be used in that manner.

Well, I guess growing trees is not agriculture, because you sure can’t grow trees on a pipeline right of way. And the RoW provides a path for trespassers, so you’ll end up building fences, at your expense.

Meanwhile in Dougherty County, there’s already been a public hearing, but around here we get this promise:

Grover also said that Spectra Energy has been in contact with people along the proposed route since June, and will begin to hold meetings in the affected communities beginning in October.

After two weeks of citizen concerns heard by the Dougherty County Commission and a public hearing with more scheduled, what has the Lowndes County Commission done?

Sabal Trail has already been in contact with Lowndes County government as well, said Grover. Speaking with Page Dukes, Lowndes County Clerk, Dukes said that the county is being treated like any other land owner along the route. The county will not have an opportunity to approve or deny the passage of the pipeline through Lowndes County. Also, when asked if Lowndes County has considered tapping into the pipeline, Dukes said, “That offer has not been made to the county.”

The county does have an opportunity to hold public hearings and for Commissioners to express opinions, which Spectra has demonstrated it does listen to. Instead, the Lowndes County government takes no responsibility and write no letters that we’ve seen. No Lowndes County Commissioners are even quoted in the VDT story; just the County Clerk repeating what the County Chairman said more than a month ago.

Meanwhile, watch out:

If your property is chosen by Spectra Energy for the pipeline, your property will be appraised by an independent real estate appraiser provided by Spectra Energy, and “based upon the appraiser’s market evaluation as well as other factors, Spectra Energy determines the fair market value to be used for negotiations,” said Grover.

Spectra Energy goes into every easement negotiation expecting that an agreement will be reached. However, in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, they can obtain the rights to easement by eminent domain through the Federal Natural Gas Act. Eminent domain will not be used as a negotiating tool, but “only as a means of last resort,” she said.

If eminent domain is used, then the court will “determine the appropriate compensation in the valuation proceeding.” Then the landowner would be able to present to the court the compensation they deem appropriate for the land.

I can tell you by experience that’s not the whole story.

Meanwhile, it’s time to start contacting FERC and GA PSC about this $3 billion boondoggle of no benefit to Georgians.