Chris Mericle, local host for the September WWALS Outing, spoke to the Hamilton County Commission last Tuesday about the same section of the Withlacoochee River, where the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline is proposed to cross. You can come float past it yourself Sunday 21 September, and see many local springs, sinkholes and shoals that need to be protected from that pipeline, continuing on to where the pipeline would cross the Suwannee River.
Joyce Marie Taylor wrote for the Suwannee Democrat 25 August 2014, Hamilton fights back against Sabal Trail pipeline,
The proposed Spectra Energy/Sabal Trail natural gas transmission pipeline that would pass through the Withlacoochee River in Hamilton County has local residents up in arms and vowing to fight.
Spokesperson Chris Mericle, who brought several other citizens with him, addressed the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners at their Aug. 19 meeting. Mericle asked for the board’s support in informing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other interested parties about the potential risks to the public’s health, safety and welfare, and to help protect water resources and the natural environment.
Also in attendance at the meeting was Senator Bill Montford’s (D-Inverness) legislative assistant Marcia Mathis, who promised to do whatever possible to support the citizens of Hamilton County.
“We have 198 concerned citizens on this petition asking that the pipeline be moved to a more environmentally responsible route,” Mericle said, as he held up a manila folder. “The petition has also been uploaded to the FERC website. All these people and agencies have asked FERC and Sabal to abandon this river crossing, but Sabal is proceeding to move forward through this special aquatic site.”
Local governments can regulate pipelines through their land-use zoning authority, either by enforcing their current ordinances, or by passing new ones. A couple of counties to the west of Hamilton, Jefferson County used that power to prohibit mighty Nestlé, far bigger than Spectra Energy, FPL’s parent NextEra Energy, and Williams Company combined, from attempting to come back in and suck up water. Hamilton County, Florida could do the same to stop the Sabal Trail pipeline.
He said he was trying not to get emotional:
“But it is emotional,” said Mericle. “My daughters are six-generation Floridians. They grew up in that river and swimming in those springs, and I know you all have got similar experiences. I’d like to see future generations of our kids be able to enjoy what we have. If we’re not going to protect these springs and this river, who is?” he asked.
The Hamilton County Commission listened enough to do this:
A special meeting was called for Friday, Aug. 22, so the board could vote on passing a resolution on the matter. A meeting with all involved parties, including state officials, will also be set up soon to discuss the matter.
I haven’t seen any report on that meeting yet. But you can come see what he’s trying to protect, Sunday 21 September 2014.