East Alabama’s controversial Sabal Trail pipeline on target for June operation

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A 515-mile-long natural gas pipeline, which includes 86.4-miles in east Alabama, is on target to begin operation in June.

Sabal Trail Pipeline

Map of the entire Sabal Trail pipeline. [Photo Credit: Sabal Trail Transmission]

The Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline is a joint project by three energy companies —Spectra Energy Corp., NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy — and will transport natural gas from the Transco pipeline north of Alexander City, Ala., extend through the southwest corner of Georgia and end in central Florida near Orlando. The three-state pipeline is currently “about 85 percent complete with overall construction,” Andrea Grover, Director or Stakeholder Outreach for the Sabal Trail Transmission told Alabama Today.

With construction underway in Tallapoosa, Chambers, Lee and Russell Counties, the pipeline is roughly 70% complete in Alabama, Grover added. Expected to provide a significant economic benefit to the Yellowhammer State, the pipeline creates both short-term and long-term jobs and adds capital investment and tax base to the state’s economy.

During the current construction phase, the economic benefits include:

  • 1,112 construction jobs available
  • $37,240,486 funds from jobs being created
  • $49,685,416 additional funds contributed by non-directly related construction activity
  • $140,412,196 amount generated for the state after construction is completed
Sabal Trail Project

Map of the Sabal Trail pipeline in Alabama. [Photo Credit: Sabal Trail Transmission]

In addition, the permanent economic impact and operations in Alabama will include:

  • 94 permanent jobs after construction is completed
  • $2,953,302 funds from jobs being created
  • $4,907,082 additional funds contributed by non-directly related construction activity
  • $10,757,812 amount generated for the state after construction is completed

Despite the anticipated economic gains, environmental groups oppose the trail’s construction, saying it could threaten people’s health and access to clean water.

On its face, this pipeline should be rejected for the threat it poses not only to our climate, but to the public health of communities it would affect,” said Lena Moffitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “Rather than doubling down on outdated, dirty fuels, we should complete our transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”

However, the Transmission contends they’ve taken comprehensive steps to address environmental groups’ concerns.

“Regarding potential impacts on water supplies: Natural gas is lighter than air, meaning in the unlikely event it escapes from the pipeline, the gas can only travel up through the soil into the atmosphere and dissipate,” Grover explained in a column last month. “It cannot travel down through soils to water supplies. No toxins are released that would affect water quality.”

She continued, “The project has been evaluated publicly over the past three years to ensure environmental permitting agencies, all levels of local, state and federal government, communities and landowners’ questions were addressed and impacts along the pipeline route were minimized. Sabal Trail hosted more than 50 open houses and public meetings and underwent a well-documented, comprehensive review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).”

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