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Change Sabal Trail Route to Avoid Low-Income Community, Lawmakers Say

Four U.S. congressmen from Georgia have written to FERC challenging the route and compressor station siting of the proposed Sabal Trail Pipeline in southwestern portion of their state. Their chief concern is the facilities' impact on low-income residents, but sinkholes in the region also are a worry.

"The population of Dougherty County and the city of Albany [GA] is approximately 72% African-American," the lawmakers said in their letter. “The median household income is only $28,871 for a family of four. Approximately 32% of the population lives below the poverty line. The unemployment rate also is higher than the state average."

Signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Sanford Bishop Jr., Henry "Hank" Johnson Jr., John Lewis and David Scott, all Democrats.

The Sabal Trail Project [CP15-17] calls for constructing 515.5 miles of pipeline in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, including a 480.9-mile, 36-inch diameter mainline traversing all three states. It also calls for building two pipelines in Florida: a 21.5-mile, 24-inch diameter pipeline called the Citrus County Line, and a 13.1-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline dubbed the Hunters Creek Line (see Daily GPISept. 4Nov. 21, 2014).

The southern portion of Dougherty County is "overburdened by pollution," they said, with numerous pollution sources and hazardous waste facilities. "Sabal Trail's proposed pipeline and compressor station will further burden an already overburdened and disadvantaged African-American community in this area," the congressmen wrote.

The pipeline's proposed route "...will go through Albany and Dougherty County and will run through low-income African-American neighborhoods. The proposed industrial compressor station facility would sit right in the middle of an African-American residential neighborhood comprised of two large subdivisions, a mobile home park, schools, recreational facilities, and the 5,000-plus member Mount Zion Baptist Church..."

This area constitutes an "environmental justice community," the lawmakers said. A statement in FERC's draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for Sabal Trail that compressor facilities would not be sited in such a community is not correct, they said.

The lawmakers' three-page letter also says the pipeline and compressor station would lie in a limestone karst-laden area that is "highly prone to the development of sinkholes -- a fact highlighted in the DEIS."

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