Front page today in the newspaper of record in the largest city in the Suwannee River Basin: the WWALS protest against DAPL and Sabal Trail at the US 84 Withlacoochee River bridge last Saturday, between Quitman and Valdosta, GA.
Desiree Carver, Valdosta Daily Times, Friday, September 23, 2016, front page, Sabal protests continue,
The WWALS Watershed Coalition stood on the bridge between Brooks and Lowndes County Saturday to show solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline opponents in Dakota and to continue its battle against the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline.
That’s the US 84 bridge over the Withlacoochee River, on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. The place where Sabal Trail wants to bore under the Withlacoochee is within sight from the bridge. Despite a historic 128 to 34 vote to deny river-drilling easements by the Georgia House of Representatives in March, Sabal Trail sued in Lowndes County Superior Court, the state declined to defend, and and a judge on July 29th 2016 gave Sabal Trail an easement under the Withlacoochee River. Despite much un-evaluated evidence and an outstanding lawsuit by Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper, Greenlaw, and other parties, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on August 25th 2016 gave permission for Sabal Trail to commence drilling under Georgia rivers.
According to a release from WWALS, the stance was to “help demand the Army Corps reevaluate its permit for Sabal Trail just like its permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
The story notes WWALS has opposed Sabal Trail “since it was announced in 2013.” It adds that the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline would run from Alabama through Georgia and Florida, including Lowndes County. The story also says through Valdosta, but actually not quite, although the Valdosta City Council did approve an excellent resolution against that pipeline. So did Moultrie, Colquitt County, Brooks County, and others, including the Lowndes County Commission. Unfortunately the Lowndes County Commission a year later took money from Sabal Trail for an easement through the closed county landfill.
Continuing with the VDT story:
Group members held signs at the county line as part of #NoDAPL Solidarity Weeks of Action, bringing attention to concerns over both Sabal Trail and Dakota Access Pipelines.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172 mile pipeline that would transport do mestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, according to Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company
This pipeline has caught national attention as the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is near the pipeline’s proposed route, expressed concerns over potential leaks or spills.
According to a press release on the tribe’s website. “sacred places containing ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts were destroyed by Energy Transfer Partners.”
We have similar problems with Sabal Trail, which has already bulldozed a site in Florida where the landowner spread her grandmother’s ashes, and they’re aimed at another Florida site that has graves close to the pipeline path.
As of Sept. 6, Enbridge Inc., one of the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, merged with Spectra Energy. the company behind the Sabal Trail pipeline, according to the Spectra Energy website.
Actually, that Spectra announcement says Spectra Energy Corp and Enbridge Inc. will combine to create North America’s largest energy infrastructure company. Unless SEC or FTC or DoJ or somebody blocks it, or one of the companies pulls out, that merger will probably happen, making the result the largest pipeline company in North America. That’s just counting the two companies’ existing pipelines, as shown on the map they distributed, which doesn’t show the ones they are building, such as DAPL and Sabal Trail.
Last year, the other company behind DAPL, Energy Transfer, announced it was buying Williams Company, the owner of Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company (Transco), from which Sabal Trail plans to get its gas. Which would be both of the DAPL pipeline companies (Energy Transfer and Enbridge) owning both of the pipeline companies behind Sabal Trail (Transco and Spectra).
However, that merger of Energy Transfer and Williams failed. Alison Sider, Wall Street Journal, 29 June 2016, Energy Transfer Equity Calls Off Williams Merger: ETE allowed to walk away after lawyers say they wouldn’t be able to deliver tax opinion. Fortune and Reuters, 1 July 2016, Almost Half of Williams Directors Quit a Day After Energy Transfer Merger Fails,
…Williams on Wednesday said it would seek damages against Energy Transfer, believing the company had no right to end the deal. It previously said that damages could be as much as $10 billion….
ETE Chief Executive Kelcy Warren, a Dallas billionaire, set his sights on Williams last year to transform his company into one of the world’s biggest pipeline networks. He made an unsolicited bid last June and reached a deal in late September that was then worth $33 billion.
But oil and gas prices dropped significantly after the merger was announced. The companies’ shares fell sharply, and investors started to worry that the $6 billion cash portion of the deal would saddle ETE with too much debt.
Maybe the source of the $3 billion for the Sabal Trail boondoggle, Florida Power and Light (FPL), should worry about the debt it’s probably stacking up to borrow in advance against its ratepayer charges, now that FPL has admitted in its 2016 Ten Year Plan, in boldface in the Executive Summary:
“Difference: FPL does not project a significant long-term additional resource need until the years 2024 and 2025.”
That FPL 2016 Ten Year Plan also contradicts the other two FPL 2016 excuses for Sabal Trail, leaving only FERC’s excuse that Sabal Trail has customers, namely FPL and Duke Energy in Florida. But wait a minute: if Florida needs no new electricity, where is that profit? Maybe FPL’s CEO Eric Silagy should listen to Energy Transfer CEO Kelcy Warren about projects now unprofitable due to price drops.
While the pipeline companies gobble each other up and fight among each other:
“We stand with the opponents up there (in North Dakota).” said John Quarterman of the WWALS Watershed Coalition.