Proposed Pipeline will Disrupt south Georgia, but for What Gain?

| October 27, 2014
WALB Photo

WALB Photo

S.E. (Chip) Harp, Valdosta Today Editor:

SASSER —  The proposed (and likely) Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline will impact most residents in south Georgia, bringing additional natural gas supplies to Florida “while increasing the diversity and reliability of the region’s energy-delivery system and positively impacting the economy in the Southeast, specifically Alabama, Georgia and Florida”, per Sabal Trail reports.

However, as has been seen already, it will also have a negative impact on many area businesses, landowners and residents, especially agricultural-based businesses.  One of those affected is produce and ag-tourism business Mark’s Melon Patch in Sasser, northwest of Albany.

Mark Daniel of Marks Melon Patch, courtesy WALB

Mark Daniel of Marks Melon Patch, courtesy WALB

Terrell County resident and native Mark Daniel has been operating this produce and ag-tourism business for over 33 years.  His stand and business has grown to be a fixture off busy US Highway 82 over the decades.  His business not only offers fresh local produce for sale, but other family-based activities which he says would be disrupted by the proposed pipeline.  The proposed route would be built along his property, where he had hopes of expanding his business.

“It’s something that’s very near and dear to me. And the threat of a pipeline coming through here and messing that dream of mine up is heartbreaking to me,”  Daniel told WALB in an interview.

Should the project be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC], construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2016, with an in-service date of May 2017. Currently, various re-routes are being evaluated, including those suggested by individual landowners, homeowners associations, and other interested parties that participated in the FERC Scoping Meetings, as well as right-of-way agents, environmental team members and engineering design and construction team members.

Therefore, the question remains, is the sacrifice being made by local businesses and land owners like Daniel worthwhile?

According to those involved in the development of the pipeline, the economic benefit in lower energy prices through this clean-burning source will benefit the area as a whole.

Natural gas, the cleanest of all conventional fuels, will be more accessible to the Southeast region as a result of this pipeline, according to Sabal Trail sources. Natural gas produces 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than fuel oil. As a result, it is increasingly being used more for electrical generation and other uses. Using natural gas to replace coal and fuel oil will reduce the carbon dioxide in our air by 6 million tons a year — the equivalent of taking more than a million cars off the road annually.

It seems to be another case of the collective good superseding the individual’s needs. That’s why the Federal Government has overarching authority to make these decisions through FERC.

Regardless, in tough economic times, it is always difficult to see the livelihood of long-standing businessmen (and their families) disrupted by “progress”.  Let’s hope these promises hold true, especially in consideration for area businesses and families like Daniel’s.


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