Last month, Phil Oxendine volunteered that he and the county attorney were looking into passing a resoulution against the Sabal Trail pipeline like other counties were doing. Yet at this months meeting of the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners he denied he even said that, after Florida Power and Light (FPL) showed up.
Amber Vann wrote for the Suwannee Democrat 19 September 2014, Gas pipeline concerns continue,
At the Sept. 2 BOCC meeting, Patricia Tayman urged the Suwannee BOCC to “join Hamilton County in their efforts to become proactive and informed before making decisions about the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline.”
Chairman Phil Oxendine stated the following in response during the Board members’ opportunity for comment on Sept. 2:
“I have talked to the attorney [Jimmy Prevatt] and I have talked to Mr. [Randy] Harris, to date, about looking into that and checking on what we need to do to perhaps do the same thing that the other counties are doing. So we’re not just sitting down.”
Here’s a picture of him when he said that, taken from Suwanne County’s own video of that meeting, and you can hear and see for yourself as already reported by Debra Johnson and LAKE 16 September 2014:
Also at the Sept. 2 meeting, County Administrator Randy Harris stated that he had a copy of Hamilton County’s resolution along with their supporting materials, and would be willing to share that with the board should they desire to do something similar.
At the Sept. 16 meeting of the BOCC, citizens questioned the status of a possible resolution for Suwannee County. Debra Johnson, a Suwannee County resident, brought up an e-mail that she had sent out to county and state officials, including the commissioners. She reminded the board of the possible negative consequences of the pipeline outlined in the e-mail.
“Sabal Trail has proposed four different new routes, all of which come through Suwannee County,” Johnson said. “This pipeline holds no economic benefits for the county, only costs in the event that an accident occurs during construction or operation. We should be looking into alternative sources of energy, like solar, instead.”
Actually, at least seven (7) proposed Sabal Trail routes would cross the Suwannee River into Suwannee County, Florida.
When Johnson questioned Oxendine about a resolution for Suwannee County, Oxendine denied his prior statements. Johnson said that there is evidence of his statements in the video recording that is done at every meeting, and Oxendine said that he has since changed his mind about the resolution.
The evidence being multiple eye-witnesses plus Suwannee County’s own video of that previous meeting; see above.
Lori McCraney, another citizen of the county, stood before the BOCC to voice her thoughts on the possible economic and environmental impacts of Sabal Trail.
“The pipeline is unnecessary to meet the needs of Florida,” McCraney said. “The two pre-existing pipelines in Florida already meet our needs. The gas in the Sabal Trail pipeline is supposed to be used by FPL to power utilities. If FPL doesn’t use it, they have the right to sell it. If they export that gas, domestic gas prices will increase. This will slow down manufacturing in the U.S., which will decrease American jobs and have an overall negative economic impact on the country. We have to look at the bigger picture.”
“There’s also plans to build a compressor station for the pipeline here in Suwannee County,” McCraney continued. “The station will need to be cooled with water, and that puts a huge strain on our aquifer systems. Further, the pipelines will need to be cleaned periodically and aquifer water will be used to flush them out, straining and possibly contaminating the aquifers. The aquifers are Florida’s source of drinking water; we have to protect them.”
That’s Hildreth Compressor Station. It’s proposed to be much like the Spectra compressor station in Searsmont, Maine, where residents said they’d been lied to after they were promised 24/7 monitoring and instead they had when it leaked in January 2014 and
“I thought it was an earthquake. Then it sounded like a jet was above my house. I looked outside. I thought there was a fire.”
Dave Kyle, an external manager for FPL from their Lake City offices, spoke up in favor of Sabal Trail.
“There is an economic benefit to the pipelines,” Kyle said. “The tax base will increase. Most importantly, there is an actual need for the pipeline. FPL is growing and our power needs call for additional generating capacity. The pipeline is a more reliable source of natural gas. It is coming from an interior location, unlike the other Florida pipelines which pass through the ocean and are subject to hurricane damage. FPL is also the lowest cost electric company in Florida, and the Sabal Trail pipeline will help us keep it that way.”
FPL’s own ten-year projection to FL-PSC only estimates 13% increase in electricity demand: how does that add up to adding a third yard-wide fracked methane pipeline, or a 50% increase? As for “an interior location”, he neglected to mention FPL is buying an Oklahoma fracking operation its parent NextEra bought into in 2010. David Kyle didn’t do any better at answering Lori McCraney than his FPL CEO did when he failed to answer Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson in the Gainesville Sun.
He neglected to mention that Florida already has plenty of capacity for that. As for “FPL does use some solar power”, comparing FPL’s 2011 and 2014 projections to FL-PSC shows FPL has added zero solar capacity in that time. While Germany, with far less sun and far colder winters, is the world leader in solar power. FPL’s excuses leave the Sunshine State in the dark.
“As for the solar energy suggestion, FPL does use some solar power,” Kyle continued. “However, our studies have found that the greatest energy needs are at 6 p.m. in the summer, after the sun has set, and at 6 a.m. in the winter, before the sun has risen. So solar energy, when energy needs are at maximum capacity, is only available 25 percent of the time; gas, at capacity, is available 95 percent of the time.”
She doesn’t sound happy about Oxendine’s flip-flop or FPL’s half-truths. Are you happy? Or are you going to do something about it?
The last speaker of the evening on the subject of the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline was Tayman, who addressed Oxendine’s change of mind since the last time she spoke at the Sept. 2 meeting.
“Do not ever say something for appeasement again,” Tayman said. “You said you would act to protect the land, and that was apparently said to placate me. I don’t think that the board gets the pulse of the people. When it comes down to it, we have to think about our water and our aquifers.”