Lowndes vs. Florida Pipeline

The VDT got some good quotes from Spectra and from landowners, and even from a Lowndes County Commissioners at the Spectra dog and pony at Wiregrass Tech last week. Not the whole story, though; this one has legs.

Matthew Woody wrote for the VDT today, Lowndes residents oppose Fla. pipeline,

Andrea Grover (Spectra), Matthew Woody (VDT) Sabal Trail Transmission held an open house at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College last week to explain the Florida natural gas pipeline expected to run through South Georgia.

Sabal Trail had bulletin boards depicting aerial photos with the proposed 600-foot corridor mapped out with two red dotted lines running parallel to one another. In the center of these dotted lines, there was a brown line which highlighted an existing pipeline.

He got a bit more detail from Spectra rep Andrea Grover about Option A (the current proposed pipeline path) vs. Option B:

Sabal Trail initially proposed two routes called “Option A,” and “Option B.” Option B was a worst-case scenario route for Lowndes County because it split the county straight down the center. Sabal Trail has chosen to pursue the Option A route, which only intersects Lowndes on the lower westside of the county.

Andrea Grover, Spectra Energy public affairs representative, said that the pipeline has shifted more west to parallel an existing natural gas pipeline.

“Originally ‘Option A’ followed an existing overhead utility right-of-way, but now it has shifted more westward to follow an existing pipeline corridor.

Perhaps Andrea Grover neglected to mention what she told me in Moultrie, which was that Option B is the alternate route Sabal Trail plans to submit to FERC. So Valdosta doesn’t know the pipeline isn’t coming through the city: FERC could pick the alternate route.

We wanted to move away from Valdosta city limits, now we’re over 80 percent along an existing pipeline,” Grover said.

Although “along”, according to nearby landowners, means Spectra wants their new pipeline with its hundred-foot right of way to be nearby, not on, the narrower right of way of the previous pipeline.

Property owners are concerned they will have two natural gas pipelines on their properties, as opposed to one.

One property owner was concerned because his 20-acre plot of land was in the middle of the corridor. During the meeting, he said, “I’m not too keen on sitting on top of another gas line; we already have one there.”

And this:

Philip and Carol Singletary (landowners), Andrea Grover (Spectra)

Another property owner was accompanied by her husband and her son-in-law, and she said that she felt as if she were being intimidated by the company.

She said, “It feels like they’re telling us, ‘either you accept this offer, or you’ll get what you get,’ and I don’t appreciate that.”

That was Carol Singletary. I know this because I heard her say it, and I asked her this morning if she did, and she said yes, and I could use her name. That’s her on the right in the yellow in the picture, with her husband Philip to the left, and her son-in-law Tim on the far left.

Sabal Trail will have to be granted easement of the land to obtain a right-of-way before they can begin construction; they will have the right to use the land until they have finished installing the pipe and restoring the land. Then the land reverts back to its original landowner.

That’s not entirely accurate. I have two natural gas pipelines on my property, and indeed I own the land, but they still have easements decades after the pipelines were built. How could they not? They have to be able to get to their pipelines for maintenance such as mowing and (I hope never needed) repairs.

The VDT story ends with a statement from County Commissioner Demarcus Marshall, the only Commissioner who showd up at that meeting:

Matthew Woody (VDT), Demarcus Marshall (LCC), Brian Fahrenthold (Spectra) “The county took a stance that they will not be endorsing any of that company’s actions. Myself, as well as other commissioners, are under the impression that it is up to the property owners to offer their property for the pipeline to come through. I haven’t seen the letter yet, but I am hearing from some citizens that the letter is implying a threat, and that doesn’t sit right with me,” Marshall said.

And how does it sit with John Page and Crawford Powell, the two Commissioners whose districts Spectra wants to plow through with this pipeline? Maybe somebody might want to ask them, maybe at tomorrow morning’s Work Session or Tuesday evening’s Citizens Wishing To Be Heard.