It is well established that natural gas transmission pipelines are the safest method of transporting energy products, and at Spectra Energy Partners, Safety is our number one priority. Our dedication to continuously improve our operational safety practices stems from our relentless focus on protecting the people within the communities where we operate, our employees and the environment. While we already have a strong safety record, our goal is zero incidents, as no incident is acceptable. When issues are identified, we work hard to quickly, safely and properly remedy the situation, as well as learn from them in order to continuously improve.
Sabal Trail will meet or exceed all U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) requirements and will maintain stringent operations and maintenance through a 24/7, 365-day-a-year monitoring program. There is more than 300,000 miles of natural gas pipeline in the U.S. in communities large and small, rural and urban. Pipelines are America’s lifelines, and they operate safely every day across the country.
Sabal Trail’s pipeline will not contaminate drinking water or aquifers. The pipeline is made of high-strength steel with epoxy coating, and the natural gas is transported in a gaseous state. Natural gas is lighter than air, which means in the highly unlikely event that natural gas escapes from the pipeline, the gas can only travel up through the soil into the atmosphere where it dissipates. Additionally, no toxins are released during the construction or operation of the Sabal Trail facilities that would affect water quality.
Sabal Trail’s compressor stations will be designed with the best available state-of-the-art low emission turbine technology fueled by clean natural gas in strict compliance with federal and state regulations. In fact, the new turbines will achieve an emission rate lower than what is required by federal and state regulations. Additionally, Sabal Trail will be equipping the turbine with an exhaust catalyst system, which is designed to significantly reduce other air emissions, even though it is not required by federal or state regulations. It is expected that regulators will classify Sabal Trail’s compressor stations as only minor sources of emissions.
Solar Power for Compressor Stations
There have been some suggestions that Sabal Trail should use on-site solar power to run its compressor stations. Unfortunately, this is not feasible for a variety of reasons. Primarily, solar power would be only available during ideal, sunny daylight hours and not during the night or on days with heavy cloud cover. Also, the minimum amount of land required to harness enough solar energy for the compressor station, under ideal conditions, ranges from 200 to 250 acres of land, while a typical compressor station only occupies a site of approximately 40 to 50 acres. However, Sabal Trail will utilize solar energy for some lighting and other mechanical devices at the compressor station.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), the lead federal agency on the construction of pipelines, regulates noise associated with pipelines and compressor stations. FERC requires that the station’s noise levels do not exceed an average day-night sound level of 55 decibels at the nearest receptors. Research has concluded the Sabal Trail compressor stations will operate at less than 55 decibels and; therefore, will not be a significant source of noise. For comparison, a normal conversation is 55 decibels and an automobile at 50 feet can be as much as 90 decibels.
Global Warming & Climate Change
On September 2, 2014, Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Gina McCarthy asked the energy business community to spend their dollars on building more natural gas pipelines across the country. In her speech to the investors, she stated, “This is really about building a healthy industry, a healthy investment market, and lowering carbon pollution.” President Barack Obama has also expressed his support for expanding the use of natural gas to lower carbon pollution.
Natural gas systems have a relatively small carbon footprint compared to overall emissions due to their small size and the low carbon content of natural gas. In fact, due to its low carbon content, natural gas can play a significant role in helping to reduce emissions when used in place of other fossil fuels in end-use applications, such as power generation, commercial or industrial applications. Natural gas is recognized as a very clean energy source and its use is rapidly expanding.
Jobs & Tax Dollars
Every county along the pipeline will benefit from the initial development and construction of the pipeline, as well as from the new taxes the pipeline will generate every year as long as it operates. In this respect, it is no different from any new business moving into a community. Additionally, businesses along the pipeline route, such as bulk fuel, equipment rentals, gravel and paving, fencing, landscaping, welding shops, restaurants and retail businesses, will all have the opportunity to do business with Sabal Trail, and we conducted contractor job and vendor fairs along the project to explain business and job opportunities..
Insurance for Properties with Pipelines
While some people have raised concerns about property values and insurance rates, we want to assure you there is no evidence – even with more than 300,000 existing miles of pipelines in the U.S. – demonstrating that natural gas pipelines affect home loans, property values or insurance costs.
FERC has researched this issue in-depth and reported the results in a previous Environmental Impact Statement issued in March 2012 (FERC Docket CP11-56-000, FEIS, pages 4-181, 4-183). FERC also interviewed bank, mortgage and insurance company officials and determined there are no pipeline-related impacts.
A natural gas pipeline impact study was also conducted at the request of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation (“INGAA Foundation”). Its purpose was to determine the impact of natural gas pipelines on real estate. The study examined data from many different perspectives to identify possible price and non-price impacts to locations along a natural gas pipeline route. The study determined there is not a significant impact on the sales price of properties located along natural gas pipelines, and the pipeline size and product do not make a difference. It also concluded there is not an apparent impact on the marketability of properties located along a natural gas pipeline’s path, and a pipeline does not impede development of the surrounding properties. Additionally, the study concluded the results and conclusions of the study are very likely transferable to situations involving natural gas pipelines in other regions of the country.
Sabal Trail Transportation Contracts are for Domestic Use
Once completed, the Sabal Trail pipeline will deliver domestic natural gas supplies to Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida for their electric generation needs. Their intended use is domestic. In fact, the exportation of natural gas is an entirely separate permitting process required by the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”), and Sabal Trail is not seeking any such approval. Additionally, Sabal Trail representatives are continuing to seek commercial opportunities with additional potential customers at other locations along the pipeline route. There is plenty of need for clean burning natural gas in the Southeast, and Sabal Trail will be an integral element in the delivery of that natural gas.
We Intend to be Good Neighbors
We appreciate your concerns and interest in the Sabal Trail project. We are working hard every day to earn your understanding and confidence.