Environmentalists against FERC decision on Sabal Trail gas pipeline


US environmental protection agency Sierra Club has expressed its dissatisfaction with a decision made by the US federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to have the Sabal Trail gas pipeline to continue operating.

The Sabal Trail gas pipeline transports 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas over 685.5 miles to consumers in Florida and the Southeast region.

The pipeline transports to four power plants owned by Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light (FPL)

FPL has subscribed to 600,000 dekatherms per day and Duke Energy Florida has subscribed to 400,000 dekatherms per day.

Kelly Martin, Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign Director at Sierra Club, said: “Today’s decision shows that the majority of the federal commission tasked with protecting Americans from the dangers of fracked gas pipelines is nothing but a rubber stamp for polluting corporations.

“We agree with Commissioner Glick’s dissent when he said, ‘the void in evaluating indirect environmental impacts from GHG emission while simultaneously concluding there is no significant impact means the Commission remains in the unstable position of granting certificates of public convenience and necessity without fully considering the public interest.’ These dirty, dangerous pipelines threaten our health, climate, and communities, and it’s irresponsible to build them at a time when clean, renewable energy is abundant and affordable.”

The environmental protection organisation had filed a petition requesting FERC’s Environmental Impact Statement to revisit analysing downstream effects of the gas transported by the pipeline.

The petition followed the EIS ruling that gas transported by the pipeline had little or no effects to the environment.

FERC’s recent order reinstating certificate authorisation for the pipeline follows a 3 versus 2 Commissioner vote in favour of the operations of the pipeline.

Commissioner Richard Glick, in calling for closure of the pipelines during the FERC meeting, said: “Willful ignorance of readily available analytical tools to support an enhanced qualitative assessment for the single largest environmental threat in our lifetime will undermine informed public comments and informed decision making…”

The news comes growing uncertainity in the US regarding which sources of energy should utilities adopt clean or conventional.

The US under the Obama administration had over the past decade shifting to clean and renewable energy resources.

However, the Trump administration is calling for the energy industry to regain the position of conventional energy generation in the country’s total energy mix.

Some states are going ahead with their renewable energy plans despite calls being made by the new government whilst some are following suite with the Trump administration.