Proposed Pipeline Draws Concern from EPA and Georgia Congressmen

The Environmental Protection Agency released a letter last month questioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s handling of the proposed Sabal Trail Pipeline, a pipeline that would carry some 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily from Alabama through Southwest Georgia to Northern Florida.

The EPA notes concerns that construction of the pipeline could violate the Clean Water Act and jeopardize surface and groundwater resources, threatening the safety of drinking water in the region.  The agency also worries that the pipeline could damage conservation areas and says that the FERC’s suggestion for mitigating those risks aren’t reassuring.

In the letter, the EPA also criticizes the FERC for apparently ignoring climate change impacts the pipeline could have.

The EPA suggests that the FERC has acted to protect earlier contractual obligations entered into by the pipeline developer at the expense of other issues, including important enviromental justice principles.

The current proposal for the pipeline includes a compressor station that would be built in a predominently African American community.

Several Georgia Congressmen drafted a letter to the FERC highlighting these environmental justice concerns.  The letter, signed by US Representatives Sanford Bishop, John Lewis, Hank Johnson, and David Scott, highlights the fact that the pipeline would extend through predominently African American communities that already suffer from high rates of poverty, cancer, and other diseases.  The Congressmen also note that the region is burdened by hundreds of hazardous waste facilities and a multitude of industrial polluters.

The Congressmen fault the FERC for not adequately adressing environmental justice concerns in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline, and they especially take issue with the proposed location for the compressor station.

In the letter, the Congressmen explain that the compressor station will be located in a residential area in Albany, Georgia and will emit dangerous pollutants that could threaten the health  of nearby residents and would keep the Albany area in non-attainmemt status under the Clean Air Act.  The station will stand six stories tall and will also contribute constant noise and light pollution to the area.

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