VALDOSTA — A representative with the Sabal Trail Pipeline discussed the proposed pipeline this week and refuted allegations from protestors.
Andrea Grover, director of stakeholder outreach for Sabal Trail, said allegations from homeowners that surveyors threatened eminent domain on their properties was “hard to believe.”
“I would really disagree with any of those accusations,” Grover said. “We do a lot of training with our entire staff to ensure that we treat landowners with respect, that we provide as much information and want to have an open dialogue with those landowners.”
Grover said that Sabal Trail only works on properties that they are allowed to work on.
“We are only on those properties that we have permission to be there, or have agreements in place to be there,” Grover said. “These are things that we instill in our workforce.”
Grover also said that those living along the pipeline’s route will be able to get natural gas.
“The community can benefit from taking natural gas for their community use when the pipelines are put in service,” Grover said. “We would put the local communities and municipalities in contact with our business development group and they can look for locations that are best for gas to come off, what the structure would look like, and timing and all of that, and work to get some agreements in place.”
Those against the pipeline have said that it would provide no benefit whatsoever to locals, and that the gas transported by the pipeline would only be for exporting.
Grover said that the pipeline will be looking for locals to work on the pipeline in the near future, and that Valdosta will be the site of a Sabal-run job fair sometime in 2015.
“We’ll have job fairs in the first quarter and first half of next year, and likely Valdosta will be a location of one of those job fairs,” Grover said. “Our construction contractor will be available and looking for the variety of different things that come with construction, whether there’s grading, equipment, welding, inspectors, landscapers, a lot of those different things, and definitely looking for local workforce in those roles.”
Grover also said that there would be a tax benefit for locals due to the pipeline being in their land.
“There’s significant taxes that come with the pipeline in the area,” Grover said. “Those are based on the final pipeline route. We are in the throes of finalizing an economic benefit study.”
Landowners that would give up land will be able to negotiate with Sabal Trail to get a fair price for the easement that the pipeline would go under.
“We go through phases of the project, and what we do there is once the routing is final, that location determined, our right-of-way teams would negotiate with the landowners,” Grover said. “All of that is based on the acrage that is affected by the pipeline and what the market studies indicate the value of the property is. They go into negotiation to land on a fair price for everybody. The land use still reverts to the landowner.”
Grover said that once the pipeline was constructed and the land on the easement was replaced, landowners could do whatever they wanted with the land, including farming of the land.
For safety reasons, the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee requires three feet of cover for the pipeline, and Grover said that they would negotiate with landowners for different allowances, such as if they needed the pipeline to run deeper than the minimum 36 inch allowance.