Suwannee BOCC votes 4:1 to ask Army Corps of Engineers to investigate Sabal Trail 2016-04-05

Other counties in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama can follow this example from Hamilton County, now emulated by Suwannee County. Coming on the heels of the historic 34 aye to 128 nay defeat of Sabal Trail river easements in the Georgia legislature, this invading Spectra Energy pipeline has run into some hard shoals, with sinkholes ahead.

Commissioner Wesley Wainwright proposed to send the letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commissioner Wainwright proposes to send the letter asking them to come see for themselves and do an indepedent report, pointedly adding he still supports the pipeline, but he thinks the discrepencies revealed by the gelogical report by local Practicing Geologist Dennis Price were worth asking the Corps to investigate. Wainwright was the only Suwannee County Commissioner who did not go on the 18 Febuary 2016 hike led by Chris Mericle. Nonetheless he reiterated in the meeting, as he had told the Suwannee Democrat, that through his own investigations he had also determined there were sinkholes far closer to Sabal Trail’s proposed pipeline path than Sabal Trail had said.

Wainwright asked for only Commissioners to speak, saying he didn’t want to get into another session like the previous extensive citizen discussion, apparently referring to the December Commission meeting in which the future of energy was discussed.

Speakers Chris Mericle, Jim Tatum, Debra Johnson, Wayne Ellison

Yet Florida law requires citizens to be able to speak, and local landowner Wayne Ellison was first to the podium, saying he most definitely was still opposed to the pipeline, since Sabal Trail wants to run it through his cow pasture full of sinkholes, and what would become of his cows?

Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, 5 April 2016, Suwannee Co. BOCC Votes to Send Letter to Army Corps of E. noting Sabal Discrepencies,

Tonight, April 5, 2016, the Suwannee County board of commissioners voted to send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers expressing their concerns regarding the study for the proposed Sabal Trail pipeline. As outlined in our post “Has Sabal Trail Withheld Vital Information?,” another geological study done by someone not paid by Sabal returned very different conclusions.

Also speaking were Debra Johnson of Suwannee County and SpectraBusters, Jim Tatum for Our Santa Fe River, Chris Mericle of Hamilton County and a WWALS board member, and John S. Quarterman, WWALS president. All five speakers are WWALS members. Suwannee County takes its own video, so in a few days you will be able to see everything we said.

The Commissioners never read to the public the brief Hamilton County letter to the Corps, even though after some discussion they decided to send it verbatim, transplanted onto Suwanneee County letterhead. This lack of text led another Suwannee County resident afterwards to ask whether the letter refers to Falmouth spring. They said it did. Well, not exactly, but it does refer to “other features of the aquifer and cave systems”. Here’s the Hamilton County letter.

Voting for the motion were Commissioners Wesley Wainwright, Clyde Fleming, Larry Sessions, and even formerly recalcitrant Ricky Gamble. Only Chairman Jason Bashaw voted against.

Bashaw noted after the vote that this action weakened the Commission’s formerly-stated resolve to be neutral about Sabal Trail. Yes, Chairman Bashaw, it does. And that’s a good thing.

Thank you to the rest of the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners for standing up for your citizens. And thanks to Chairman Bashaw for running an open meeting; I said this to him in the meeting, as well, in which I recommended he and the other Commissioners look into the numerous other things Sabal Trail and FPL didn’t tell them described in the letter WWALS had just sent to the Corps that I had forwarded to SBOCC.

Debra Johnson, SpectraBusters, 5 April 2016, Suwannee County Votes to Send Letter to Army Corps Of Engineers Asking for Independent Geological Study,

Tuesday April 5th Suwannee County voted 4 to 1 , with chairman Bashaw dissenting, to send a letter requesting that the Corps perform an independent environmental study concerning the geological omissions Sabal Trail withheld from their Environmental Study submitted to FERC to receive a permit to bore under the Suwannee River.

After comparing Sabal Trail’s EIS with that of local geologist Dennis Price, Chris Mericle discovered omissions and discrepancies in this report endangering the Floridan Aquifer which supplies 60% of Florida’s water supply as well as endangering millions of citizens and hundreds, if not thousand, of springs.

Sabal Trail submitted information for the pipeline permit to FERC stating the closest sinkhole to the pipeline route boring under the Suwannee River would be 750 ² from the pipeline which is not true. Commissioner Wainwright and other BOCC officials discovered one active sinkhole 75 ² from the 36 ³ fracked gas pipeline. In fact there is a sinkhole smack in the middle of the pipeline route with sinkholes covering the entire area.

SBOCC discovered this after attending a hike of the pipeline route and Falmouth Springs, which is part of a interconnected cave system that extends to the Suwannee River crossing at Suwannee River State Park which Sabal Trail claims is 100 ² underground, when in fact one can see the springs practically at ground level and is part of this connected cave system and caverns named the Falmouth Cathedral Cave System. There are in fact many of these cave systems all connected within the pipeline route and throughout Florida.

Thank you SBOCC and all who assisted in this effort.

All counties in North Florida and central Florida should follow suite.

Perhaps a RICO investigation by the US Attorney General of Spectra Energy/Sabal Trail and the oil industry funded pipeline government agency, FERC, as well as invested Florida governor Scott is in order.

I do believe the time has come to stop this dangerous gas pipeline to export the natural gas that fracking invested FPL, Duke Energy and NextEra wish to export to other countries with zero benefit to the citizens of Florida.


It’s not just Florida counties that should follow suit: Georgia counties and cities should also ask the Corps to investigate Sabal Trail. And a RICO investigation is not a bad idea, either.


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