Matthew Woody wrote across the top of the front page of the Valdosta Daily Times today, Sabal Trail presents at County Commission work session,
Protesters stood outside of the Lowndes County Judicial and Administrative Complex at 8:30 a.m. in opposition to the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline project as representatives from the company made a presentation at the Commission Work Session.
That’s Matthew Woody across the street taking that picture, and here are more pictures of the protesters.
“We strive everyday for zero incidences,” Fahrenthold said “All of our meetings, company wide, starts with a safety update.”
Really? So why afterwards did both Brian Fahrenthold and Andra Grover claim to be unfamiliar with fines by PHMSA and EPA against Spectra about safety violations?
During a work session meeting, the community does not get a chance to speak, so commissioners requested that residents send them questions so that the company could address resident’s concerns by way of the commissioners.
Commissioner John Page asked Fahrenthold, “How will this pipeline cross the Withlacoochee River?” Fahrenthold deferred the question to John Zimmer, Senior Project Manager for TRC Engineering Services. Zimmer explained the logistical process of boring a hole 50-100 ft. underneath the riverbed, then dragging the pipe through the hole.
“The pipe is well beneath the riverbed. We don’t just lay the pipe in the river,” Zimmer said.
No, Spectra proposes to stick the pipe down into the porous karst limestone beneath the river; the same limestone that contains our Floridan aquifer, our drinking water source. The Withlacoochee River already seeps underground into the aquifer north of Valdosta and we have numerous sinkholes around the county, including one that ate Snake Nation Road and the county spent more than $600,000 routing around. Don’t we have enough problems already with sinkholes and subsidence?
Commissioner Demarcus Marshall, concerned about surveyor’s safety, wanted clarification regarding an incident when surveyors went too far onto a resident’s property line.
“We live an an area that when people say no, they mean no,” Marshall said.
Roger Dice is a Right of Way consultant for Sabal Trail, and addressed the incident Marshall referred to, saying some surveyors were in a field, and due to a miscalculation, they went about 120 ft. onto private property.
Fahrenthold interjected and said, “We respect property rights, and I made a lot of phone calls because of that incident, and I hope we reconciled it.”
Catch that? He didn’t say they did reconcile it, merely that “I hope we reconciled it”. Kind of like Andrea Grover told me a month ago (in front of VDT reporter Matthew Woody) that after she talked to residents in Pennsylvania about a compressor leak there everybody was happy. Some people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere beg to differ.
Commissioner Richard Raines asked if Sabal Trail has the right to use eminent domain on a state or a federal level.
Fahrenthold answered that under the Natural Gas Act, passed by Congress, Sabal Trail has the right to use eminent domain, but he assured the commission that it is only used as a last resort.
So what is Spectra already for some time now having a high-powered Atlanta lawyer send landowners letters threatening eminent domain?
After the presentation, area residents Timothy Bland and Philip Singletary said they were not impressed. Singletary described the presentation and the question and answer portion as “a dog and pony show.”
“I was outraged because some of the questions we submitted to the commissioners were not even asked,” Singletary said.
Although failing to ease some resident’s concerns, this presentation proved fruitful for Chairman Bill Slaughter.
“I felt like it was a good work session, and I felt like Sabal Trail’s representative, Mr. Fahrenthold, made a good presentation. The Commissioners had the opportunity to ask some questions, and express some concerns,” Slaughter said. “I wanted to make sure that Lowndes County citizens are being treated with respect, and I appreciate Sabal Trail’s transparency.”
Before the special presentation, the Lowndes County Commission breezed through their work session with few concerns.
The VDT has the full names of the applicants for the VLMPO Citizens Advisory Committee because the Commission does at least let the newspaper of record see that much.
You can see it all for yourself in the LAKE videos.