WALB did what the Lowndes County Commission did not after Spectra’s sales talk this morning: let local citizens speak.
Robert Hydrick on WALB today, Sabal Trail gives information on pipeline project, quoted Spectra rep. Brian Fahrenthold (one of five Spectra sent) about Spectra’s feint of a former route through Valdosta, now aimed through rural Lowndes and Brooks Counties instead:
“The first route was 31.3 miles and the [new route] is 15.6. That’s a fifty percent reduction in our proposed route,” said Fahrenthold.
Well, no, it’s a shift in Spectra’s proposed route for their Sabal Trail Pipeline to go farther west, past Clyattville and through Brooks, Colquitt, Mitchell, and Dougherty Counties. How does it feel to be expendable, rural landowners?
Fahrenthold also emphasized that construction on the pipeline has not yet begun, despite some residents’ concerns that it had. Fahrenthold said officials are still in the process of surveying the land where the pipeline would be placed, adding that the survey process would have to be completed before any construction could begin.
Curious how Spectra having a high-powered Atlanta lawyer send threats of imminent domain and “Sabal Trail intends to enter upon your property” might have resulted in landowners fearing imminent construction.
“In Lowndes County,” Fahrenthold said, “we’ve had ninety percent permission for survey.”
The ten percent of residents that have denied Sabal Trail permission to survey their land have done so for a variety of reasons.
Starting with many of them probably didn’t know they had any recourse.
Chief among their concerns is the safety hazards that the pipeline poses and the pipeline’s potentially negative affects on the value of their land.
“A huge impact on land values,” said Rodgers. “Not to mention the safety factor, but I’m told that this could affect the land value of my property up to fifty percent.”
Rodgers originally gave surveyors permission to survey his land, but says he denied them any such permission in the future after the surveyors left water bottles and trash on his land after completing the survey.
WALB quotes Spectra rep. Andrea Grover with squishy words about safety that guarantee nothing “safety is another item that is top of mind”. When I asked her afterwards on WALB camera about the PHMSA fines against Spectra delivered to her CEO last December, she said she wasn’t familiar with that. When I asked her about the record $15 million EPA fine against Spectra for spilling PCBs as 89 locations, she said she wasn’t familiar with that, either, but she claimed after PCBs were made illegal int he 70s Spectra stopped using them. I noted that fine was well after the 70s (1989).
No matter how well-intentioned the hearings are, Rodgers said he, like many of the concerned citizens, feel that Sabal trail isn’t be entirely honest.
“I’m not sure they’re providing all the information to the property owners,” Rodgers said.
You can try asking Spectra questions at the FERC-required Open House 5-7:30 PM Monday 16 December 2013 at Clyattville Elementary School, or at any other in that series.
Or do the one thing Spectra claimed would get them to actually answer questions: file a comment with FERC. Not that I’ve seen much evidence of them answering those, either, but at least that gets your concerns in the federal public record where nobody can deny the questions exist.
Plus tomorrow evening (Tuesday 5:30 PM 10 December 2013) at Citizens Wishing to Be Heard at the Lowndes County Commission Regular Session is an opportunity to be heard by the County Commission, and perhaps by the news media.