Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline

For the latest WWALS blog posts on this topic, see the WWALS blog Pipeline category. For where Sabal Trail gouged its 100-foot-wide path, see Sabal Trail maps digitized.

WWALS has been fighting the unnecessary and hazardous Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle since it was announced in 2013.

WWALS caused a four-month legal case in Florida, and a three-day October 2015 legal hearing for WWALS v. Sabal Trail & FL-DEP (2015).

Three independent geologists warned FERC, the Corps, DEP, and everyone else for more than two years in three separate geological reports about what’s happening now: frac-outs under the rivers and sinkholes in the roads.

Many more people and organizations have joined the opposition recently, protecting the waters of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. See for example the SpectraBusters Allies page and the Protect Florida Against Sabal Trail facebook page, which collects recent and upcoming events.

Report a potential violation

See a problem? No silt fence, no endangered wildlife signs, no permit, water withdrawal, water dumping? Sabal Trail, FSC, Transco are running hell for leather trying to finish by May 2017 and Sabal Trail have already slipped to June 2017. They’re probably making mistakes. Here are some addresses to report to, plus a petition to sign and other actions you can take.

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Spot Sabal Trail violations from the air: Indiegogo crowdfunding

Why there is no need for Sabal Trail

Recent updates to this page

For the latest WWALS blog posts on this topic, see the WWALS blog Pipeline category.

Update 2018-02-01: Sabal Trail loses a customer, its gas, and a court case

Update 2018-01-10: Zero, low, high, and less than zero gas

Update 2017-05-26:

  • 2017-05-26: WWALS asks FERC to deny Sabal Trail’s in-service request and to revoke its permit,

    Hahira, GA, May 26, 2017 — WWALS Watershed Coalition today asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to “stay, stop, or deny all requests to place any project facilities into service” for the Southeast Markets Pipeline Project (SMPP) including Sabal Trail. Further “WWALS as an intervenor formally requests FERC to revoke its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for SMPP.”

    In its thirteen-page filing (available online and in PDF), WWALS listed six reasons, each with its own attachment of details:

Update 2017-04-18:

Update 2017-04-08:

Update 2017-02-08:

Update 2016-12-26:

Update 2016-12-18:

Update 2016-12-11:

  • 2016-12-11: Sabal Trail violations FDEP assured us would not happen are happening

    Already under the Withlacoochee River in Georgia there’s been a frac-out and a sinkhole at a drilling site, upstream from the Suwannee River in Florida, under which FDEP told us it couldn’t happen:

    Lisa Prather, sole FDEP witnessWell, the Suwannee River crossing doesn’t, in fact, have any impacts to an outstanding Florida water….”

    “Well, any work within, or could have adverse effects on OFW, is considered. In this case, we determine that there would be no impacts to the OFW.

    Apparently not only FDEP’s sole witness Lisa Prather believed Sabal Trail….

  • Calypso Court sinkhole 2000 feet from Sabal Trail pipeline 2016-12-09: Calypso Court sinkhole 2000 feet from Sabal Trail pipeline

    A major sinkhole developed today within about 2000 feet of Sabal Trail’s path in Osceola County, Florida. Rather like what we warned them about last year in WWALS v Sabal Trail & FDEP.

  • 2016-12-06: Sabal Trail at Okapilco Creek 2016-12-06
    We didn’t see any silt fences where Sabal Trail has red pipe laid out across Okapilco Creek and Little Creek, north of Coffee Road, west of GA 333 in Brooks County, Georgia, between Barwick and Barney.
  • 2016-12-06: College mutual fund VA529 owns Sabal Trail stranded assets,

    Do the parents and grandparents who bought Virginia529 funds as safe investments for future college know VA529 is the biggest mutual fund investor in risky investments Spectra Energy of Sabal Trail and Enbridge of the Dakota Access Pipeline? Maybe you’d like to point that out to Mary G. Morris, the Chief Executive Officer of Virginia529 College Savings Plan, the biggest mutual fund investor in both Spectra Energy and in Enbridge, which is buying Spectra.

  • Anne Schindler, WTLV, 5 December 2016: “Sinkhole raises collapse concerns at pipeline drilling site”,

    The company says the sinkhole, which appeared Nov. 5, has nothing to do with the Nov. 17 incident, in which drilling mud penetrated the Withlacoohee River from operations below.

    “The two items you referenced are unrelated,” spokesperson Andrea Grover said in a written statement. “The sinkhole is in an upland and approximately 1,400 feet from the previously reported inadvertent release.”

    Doesn’t Sabal Trail’s $3 billion dollar pipeline connect those two items?

  • Karen Edelstein, FracTracker, 29 November 2016, The Sabal Trail Pipeline: A Sinking Feeling,

    Even in the phases of construction, environmentalists in Georgia discovered that the Sabal Trail pipeline had started leaking drilling mud from a pilot hole into the Withlacooche River in late October, and continued to ooze turbid mud for at least three weeks. Environmental advocates from the WWALS … Watershed Coalition raised concerns that if a pilot hole could cause such a leakage, what could happen once full-scale directional drilling was occurring?

  • Michael D. Bates, Citrus County Chronicle, November 26, 2016, “In the pipeline,”

    “the project is proceeding as scheduled” and “We are on target for an end-of-June in-service date…”

    Hm, that’s a month after their previous May 2017 in-service date.

Update 2016-12-05:

Update 2016-12-04:

Update 2016-11-30:

Update 2016-11-18:

  • Derrek Vaughn, Valdosta Daily Times, 17 November 2016, WWALS Watershed Coalition hold demonstration (WWALS blog post),
    VDT front page

    “Demonstrators gathered to protest the Sabal Trail pipeline and participate in the “Dirty Dozen” waterways conference call.”

    WWALS Watershed Coalition sponsored the demonstration.

    Members and demonstrators met in the median of Highway 84 at the Withlacoochee River Bridge to listen to the Georgia Water Coalition’s “Dirty Dozen 2016” conference call.

Update 2016-11-17:

  • Georgia Water Coalition, Waterkeeper Alliance, 17 November 2016, “Dirty Dozen” Calls Out Most Threatened Waters in Georgia,

    Written by Georgia Water Coalition, a group of more than 230 organizations including Altamaha Riverkeeper, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Chattachoochee Riverkeeper, Flint Riverkeeper, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Satilla Riverkeeper, Savannah Riverkeeper, St. Marys Riverkeeper, and WWALS Watershed Coaltion, a Waterkeeper Affiliate.

    Georgia’s leading water coalition named its “Dirty Dozen” for 2016, highlighting 12 of the worst offenses to Georgia’s waters. The annual Dirty Dozen shines a spotlight on threats to Georgia’s water resources. It also highlights the polluters and state policies or failures that threaten the health and safety of Georgia’s waters. Nine Riverkeepers and Affiliates are members of the Georgia Water Coalition.

    “This year’s report highlights the real, human costs of dirty energy production in Georgia’s communities,” said Joe Cook, Advocacy and Communication Coordinator for Coosa River Basin Initiative. “Toxic chemicals from coal plants are showing up in groundwater wells and in our rivers while risky proposals for transporting and extracting gas and oil threaten water supplies, wildlife and property rights.”

  • Bruce Ritchie, Politico, 17 November 2016, Sabal Trail spill, protests across U.S. spur debate over natural gas pipeline in Florida,

    TALLAHASSEE — Environmentalists are raising concerns over a drilling mud discharge last month from a natural gas pipeline being dug under the Withlacoochee River in Georgia that could damage the river and downstream springs in Florida.

    The criticisms come as Native Americans have drawn national attention to their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and 14 people protesting the pipeline in Florida were arrested Saturday in Gilchrist County of disorderly conduct and other charges.

    Sabal Trail Tranmission company officials said the discharge in the Withlacoochee River was cleaned up as they installed a floating yellow turbidity curtain, similar to an oil spill boom, to prevent the spread of two gallons of drilling mud. The river flows into Florida 15 miles downstream and eventually into the Suwannee River.

    The Georgia Water Coalition on Wednesday listed the Sabal Trail pipeline on its annual “dirty dozen” list of threats to rivers in the state. Several of those rivers, including the Chattahoochee, Flint and Withlacoochee rivers, eventually flow into Florida.

    John Quarterman of the WWALS Watershed Coalition environmental group in Georgia said the public was told such accidents were not possible.

    “So what else can happen that they said couldn’t happen?” Quarterman asked. “And why should we take that risk or any risk for this pipeline that has never been of any benefit to the state?”

  • Ashlyn Becton, WALB, 16 November 2016, Environmentalist raise awareness about Sabal Trail Pipeline (WWALS blog post),

    Folks from North Florida and South Georgia held a protest at the Withlacoochee River Wednesday and listened to a news conference announcing the Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen.

    The report highlights the worst offenses and greatest threats to Georgia’s bodies of water.

    The 3.2-billion dollar Sabal Trial pipeline will pass through nine south Georgia counties, and water coalition members are not happy about it.

    “There is no excuse for this pipeline and it is massively destructive,” said John Quarterman.

    Quarterman is the president of the WWALS Watershed Coalition out of Hahira.

    That group has fought the pipeline since it was announced in 2013, including a 4-month legal challenge.

    “Sabal Trail told us in a legal case in Florida that we would never, it couldn’t happen that drilling would cause things to bubble up in the area. It happened right over there just 2,000 feet up stream,” said Quarterman.

  • Nick Evans, WUSF, 14 November 2016, Drilling Mud Leak In South Georgia Raises New Sabal Trail Pipeline Concerns (WWALS blog post)

    Water activists are raising the alarm over a South Georgia drilling leak in the Withlacoochee River. Sabal Trail is drilling beneath the river to build a more than 500-mile natural gas pipeline stretching from Alabama to Florida.

    WWALS Watershed Coalition works to protect….

  • Steve Patterson,, 14 November 2016, Gas pipeline project headed to Suwannee River leaks into Georgia waterway; sparks environmental worries (WWALS PR),

    Turbidity curtains with human for scale (Chris Mericle)
    WWALS member Chris Mericle inspecting the leak site.

    A leak in the shaft for a natural gas pipeline beneath a Georgia river has reinforced environmental worries at Florida’s Suwannee River and other waterways in the pipeline’s path.

    The leak into the Withlacoochee River near Valdosta, Ga. underscored earlier concerns about twin hazards from the Sabal Trail pipeline: that pipeline shafts could leak contaminants into rivers, and let river water escape through cracks in the area’s sinkhole-riddled bedrock.

    “What they said couldn’t happen did happen,” said John Quarterman, president of the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., a group fighting work on the 515-mile pipeline planned to cross three states.

Update 2016-11-15:

Update 2016-11-13:

Update 2016-11-09:

Update 2016-11-08:

Update 2016-12-04:

Update 2016-10-30:

Update 2016-10-23:

  • US 129 HDD Santa Fe River Sabal Trail 2016-10-22
  • From the air: US 84 HDD Withlacoochee River Sabal Trail 2016-10-22,

    Closeup yellow in Withlacoochee River, 30.7958970, -83.4530590 What is that yellow thing in the river, Sabal Trail? Is that a sinkhole you’ve marked at the Lowndes County HDD site? And does blue pipe mean thinner for rural areas like your executive from Houston told us in WWALS v Sabal Trail & FDEP?

    FERC gave you permission to drill under, not on top of, the Withlacoochee River. Drilling at all there is risky, because of sinkholes. Thinner pipe farther along is still in sinkhole-prone karst terrain.

  • Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, 22 October 2016, Sabal Trail Under Construction,

    John Quarterman of WWALS organized and executed today Oct. 22, 2016 a flight along the Sabal Trail construction zone along the Suwannee basin. Flight covered was from the Santa Fe River crossing south of Branford to Moultrie, Georgia. Corridor covered from Suwannee, Hamilton in Florida to Lowndes, Brooks and Colquitt Counties in Georgia.

    Hats off to John Quarterman for the organizing, research and execution, and also to Roy Zimmerman, volunteer pilot from Deland who gave his time, use of aircraft and aviation gas. Additional crew was Dominic Gheesling, professional photographer and your historian from OSFR. Look for the well-researched, heavily-documented, link-laden WWALS post soon to come out. Thank you John, for this opportunity.

Update 2016-10-19:

Update 2016-10-13:

Update 2016-10-10:

Update 2016-10-07:

Update 2016-09-23:

Update 2016-09-22:

  • South Georgia and north Florida 2016-09-22: Sabal Trail maps digitized
  • 2016-09-22: Sierra Club, Flint Riverkeeper and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of the massive Southeast Market Pipeline project, which involves 685.5 miles of natural gas pipeline for approximately 1.1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to markets in Florida and the southeast United States. The groups contend the FERC failed to analyze the climate impacts of the project and the power-plants it would serve and also failed to adequately analyze alternate routes that would have less impacts on the environment and communities of color.

  • 2016-09-21: WWALS and 182 Organizations from 35 States Call for Congressional Review of FERC

    Hundreds of Nonprofit Organizations Join to Demand Reform of Rogue Agency

    Washington, DC, September 21, 2016 — More than 180 organizations representing communities across America called on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extensive history of bias and abuse. The groups are also requesting reform of the Natural Gas Act, which the groups say, gives too much power to FERC and too little to state and local officials.

    “The time has now come for Congress to investigate how FERC is using its authority and to recognize that major changes are in fact necessary in order to protect people, including future generations, from the ramifications of FERC’s misuse of its power and implementation of the Natural Gas Act,” says Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a primary organizer of the effort.

    “A prime example of FERC’s dereliction of duty to the public benefit is the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline Spectra Energy is drilling through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida and under our Withlacoochee River in Georgia and our Suwannee River in Florida,” says John S. Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), the Waterkeeper® Affiliate for the upper Suwannee River.

Update 2016-09-15:

Update 2016-09-12:

Update 2016-09-01:

Update 2016-08-28: FERC Authorization for Sabal Trail to Commence Drilling under Georgia Rivers 2016-08-25

Update 2016-08-16: Federal permits inflame opposition to Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle WWALS PR 2016-08-16

Update 2016-08-10: Suwannee River Water Management District

Update 2016-07-01: Geological reports:

Three independent geologists warned FERC, the Corps, DEP, and everyone else for more than two years about what’s happening now: frac-outs under the rivers and sinkholes in the roads.

Update 2016-04-10: More things you can do:

Update 2016-02-03: At What Cost? Pipelines, Pollution and Eminent Domain in the Rural South –Movie in Live Oak, FL 2016-02-12

Update 2016-02-03: FERC has issued its permits, but the fight is not over

Update 2016-02-02: Petition to federal officials/.

Legal hearing for WWALS v. Sabal Trail & FL-DEP (2015)

Before an Administrative Law Judge, in Jasper, Florida, to stop FL-DEP from issuing a permit for Sabal Trail to use Florida wetlands and to drill under the Suwannee River through the center of the most vulnerable area of the Floridan Aquifer (ironically according to FL-DEP), right in the Florida Springs Heartland. You can contribute to the legal fund, you can join WWALS or contribute to the general fund, or you can help in other ways.

Proposed Recommended Orders.

Videos of Suwannee County residents or landowners testifying at the hearing, many of whom are also expected to speak at the Suwannee County Commission meeting 17 November 2015 about a proposed resolution against Sabal Trail. (They did, as you can see in SBOCC’s own video, and SBOCC passed a resolution.)

On the WWALS dropbox:

When: the hearing is complete, and we await the judge’s order within 30 days on or before 6 December 2015. That order will be is an actual decision (not a recommendation to DEP), because this was a summary hearing.

Notice of any appeal must be filed within 30 days. If WWALS wins as our PRO says we should, it’s very likely Sabal Trail will appeal. If the respondents win, WWALS may appeal. For either type of appeal, our counsel are quite professional, which includes they do charge money, so keep those contributions coming in to the IndieGoGo campaign, or become a WWALS member, or you can send a check.

Where: Hamilton County Board of Commissioners Chambers,
207 NE First Street
Jasper, Florida 32052

WWALS invites you to the hearing.

WWALS has opposed the unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous Sabal Trail “natural” gas pipeline since at least November 2013. Here’s WWALS at the proposed Sabal Trail crossing of the Suwannee River August 15th 2015. The latest posts on this subject are in the Pipeline category.

Some important documents related to the current Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) Case No. 15-4975, WWALS Watershed Coalition Inc. vs. Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC and Department of Environmental Protection:

Here are some other ways you can help: