By Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog:
Upon his election in 2010, Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company’s plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades.
“The proposed project will need state regulatory and governmental agencies to understand and support this project,” said the proposal submitted by FPL vice president Sam Forrest.
Gov. Scott understood. In May and June 2013, he signed into law two bills designed to speed up permitting for what came to be known as the Sabal Trail Transmission — a controversial, 474-mile natural gas pipeline that’s to run from Alabama and Georgia to a hub in Central Florida, south of Orlando.
Five months later, the Florida Public Service Commission, whose five members were appointed by Gov. Scott, unanimously approved construction of Sabal Trail as the state’s third major natural gas pipeline. More approvals are needed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which the governor oversees.
What wasn’t publicly known in 2013, however, was that the governor owned a stake in Spectra Energy, the Houston company chosen by Florida Power & Light that July to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline. Sabal Trail Transmission LLC is a joint venture of Spectra Energy and FPL’s parent, NextEra Energy.
Before the story, here's the governor's whole statement:
"Neuberger Berman, and therefore Spectra, became an investment after the Governor’s blind trust was created in 2011. Therefore, he had no knowledge of the investment because the decision to invest was made by a trustee of the blind trust. Immediately upon disclosing his assets to the public, Governor Scott placed all of his assets back into a blind trust to ensure that there would not be the possibility of any conflict of interest. As a result, Governor Scott has no knowledge of the current contents of the blind trust. Governor Scott went above and beyond to provide Floridians with transparency by disclosing his assets and releasing tax returns for both himself and the First Lady. Charlie Crist is still refusing to follow suit by releasing his wife’s tax returns, which only makes us wonder what he’s hiding."