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Florida Environmentalist Wants More Gas

Florida Environmentalist Wants More Gas

While Coastal Corp. and Williams-Transco compete to build a Trans-Gulf of Mexico pipeline from Alabama to Florida, they may be able to count on little opposition from environmentalists. However, they should at least expect them to kibitz.

Gloria Rains, chairman of Florida environmental health organization Manasota-88, said she is all in favor of bringing more gas to Florida, particularly if it means gas-fired power generation will supplant dirty coal- and oil-burning plants. While confessing she has little familiarity with Coastal's project and is largely unfamiliar with that proposed by Williams, Rains said environmentalists will be watching closely plans for siting of the projects. "Environmentalists would welcome natural gas coming into the Tampa Bay area because TECO [Tampa Electric Co.] and Florida Power and Light need to convert to natural gas."

However, project backers should be aware construction that requires excessive dredging, in their view, particularly across Tampa Bay, will be met with opposition. "I think they're going to run into difficulties with their permitting if they propose to go that route."

In the meantime, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David Struhs, who once was a utility consultant, has met with Coastal and Williams lobbyists and offered up the department's best staffers to work on the project, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "I personally believe Florida would benefit both economically and environmentally (i.e., cleaner fuel) from such a project and that they can be built to avoid any serious environmental harm," Struhs wrote in a memo to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Both Williams' Buccaneer pipeline and Coastal's Gulfstream would extend from Mobile Bay offshore Alabama to Florida's Gulf Coast and would then traverse the Florida peninsula to the Atlantic Coast.

The big attraction for a Gulf-crossing pipeline in Florida is the state's serious power generation growth. Florida is expected to need more than 10,000 MW of additional power generation by 2007, according to the Florida Reliability Council. Florida pipeline monopoly Florida Gas Transmission, a Citrus Corp. subsidiary, already has filed an application with FERC to expand its system. In December, FGT applied with the FERC for its Phase IV expansion, which would add 225,000 Dth/d of capacity for multiple shippers, but primarily Florida Power & Light.

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