Gas pipeline route called ‘insanity’ –Jasper News 2015-10-08

No minced words on the front page of Hamilton County, Florida’s daily newspaper: “Insanity”! Front page The online title was more sedate, but the story accurately recorded some of the polite outrage of the citizens who spoke to FERC against the invading Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline. Among them were at least five WWALS members and many members of Our Santa Fe River.

Amber Vann, Suwannee Democrat, 7 October 2015, Locals speak out against gas pipeline,

One man, Rocky Stewart, explained he owned property near the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch but lives in Texas where he works in the oil and energy business as a drilling fluids engineer.

“I’m sure some people here regard me as the enemy, but I am in total opposition to what you all have planned,” Stewart said, addressing FERC reps. “What you all have proposed is total insanity.”

See also the video and transcript by Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE) of what Rocky Stewart said.

Back to Amber Vann:

Karst cannot be mitigated --Chris Mericle
Chris Mericle of Hamilton County says damage to karst terrain cannot be mitigated and a pipeline poses significant sinkhole threats. -Photo: Amber Vann

Hamilton County residents Chris and Deanna Mericle stressed the dangerous impacts to karst terrain that drilling could create, like sinkhole induction. Deanna stated the SMP serves no benefit to local citizens but they will ultimately be the ones to bear the consequences of it.

The DEIS has stated that “Sabal Trail will not significantly impact karst terrain, springs or the Floridian aquifer with its construction or operations.” FERC, in the DEIS, has found Sabal’s construction techniques and operation plans in karst areas to be acceptable.

The paper newspaper caption of a front page picture of Chris Mericle says he noted that karst cannot be mitigated, which was also Rocky Stewart’s point.

WWALS Watershed Coalition President John Quarterman asked the crowd if they felt insignificant, citing the DEIS’ findings that the SMP’s environmental impacts would be “less than significant”. Quarterman, as well as several other speakers, advocated for the move towards solar energy in Florida, the “Sunshine State”.

“In less than 10 years when most of the power, if not all, in the U.S.’s electrical grid is coming from sun, wind and water, the companies still pushing fossil fuels in the year 2015 and those who aid and abet them will be seen like the tobacco company executives still pushing cigarettes to children when they know full well they cause cancer,” Quarterman said. “FERC’s process is completely broken. I say to the FERC commissioners—if you don’t want to be remembered on the wrong side of history, do the right thing and deny this pipeline.”

Former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff was right: U.S. solar power is more than doubling every two years, which means within less than a decade since he made his prediction in 2013, more U.S. electrical power will come from solar power than from any other power source. See As predicted U.S. solar capacity grew more than 400% in 4 years. Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson and his colleagues have shown it won’t stop there: by 2050 we can convert everything to sun, wind, and water power, with massive savings in money, lives, health, and also maybe Miami won’t be under the sea. See 100% renewable energy for U.S. by 2050.

Quarterman and WWALS are behind a hearing filed against Sabal Trail planned for Oct. 19-22 in Jasper or Live Oak, which could potentially halt the project if WWALS is favored, Quarterman said.

The hearing for WWALS v. Sabal Trail & DEP will start Monday October 19th, 2015 and run through Thursday October 22nd, 207 NE First Street Jasper, Florida 32052. For much more on that hearing, see the WWALS web page about Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline.

And if you want to help with expenses, please contribute to the IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.

Suwannee County resident Debra Johnson mentioned numerous health risks associated with living near a natural gas compressor station.

“Scientific studies have recently shown that people that live within one mile of a small compressor station have experienced asthma, nose bleeds, headaches, rashes, elevated levels of formaldehyde (which is a carcinogen), increased mortality for people over 65, and double the risk of autism in expectant mothers in the third trimester,” Johnson stated.

David Shields, a man who raises livestock organically in the O’Brien area of Suwannee County, said the proposed compressor location is downwind of his home, less than 2,000 feet from his front door. He has six children, and within his neighborhood there are 23 children altogether, he said. Shields said he will be the face of the people in this high-risk area, stating an incident at the station could very well kill his family.

“This is just silly—the risk that we have to the aquifer, the risk to our water, the direct risk I’m going to have to take when I breathe everyday,” Shields said.

Videos of all the speakers by Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE) are on the web.


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