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

Gloria Rains, chairman of Florida environmental healthorganization Manasota-88, said she is all in favor of bringing moregas to Florida, particularly if it means gas-fired power generationwill supplant dirty coal- and oil-burning plants. While confessingshe has little familiarity with Coastal’s project and is largelyunfamiliar with that proposed by Williams, Rains saidenvironmentalists will be watching closely plans for siting of theprojects. “Environmentalists would welcome natural gas coming intothe Tampa Bay area because TECO [Tampa Electric Co.] and FloridaPower and Light need to convert to natural gas.”

However, project backers should be aware construction thatrequires excessive dredging, in their view, particularly acrossTampa Bay, will be met with opposition. “I think they’re going torun into difficulties with their permitting if they propose to gothat route.”

In the meantime, Florida Department of Environmental ProtectionSecretary David Struhs, who once was a utility consultant, has metwith Coastal and Williams lobbyists and offered up the department’sbest staffers to work on the project, according to the St.Petersburg Times. “I personally believe Florida would benefit botheconomically and environmentally (i.e., cleaner fuel) from such aproject and that they can be built to avoid any seriousenvironmental harm,” Struhs wrote in a memo to Florida Gov. JebBush.

Both Williams’ Buccaneer pipeline and Coastal’s Gulfstream wouldextend from Mobile Bay offshore Alabama to Florida’s Gulf Coast andwould then traverse the Florida peninsula to the Atlantic Coast.

The big attraction for a Gulf-crossing pipeline in Florida isthe state’s serious power generation growth. Florida is expected toneed more than 10,000 MW of additional power generation by 2007,according to the Florida Reliability Council. Florida pipelinemonopoly Florida Gas Transmission, a Citrus Corp. subsidiary,already has filed an application with FERC to expand its system. InDecember, 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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