National coverage of Sabal Trail as Florida’s DAPL: #NoDAPL, #NoSabalTrail, #WaterIsLife

Some national coverage! Now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has backed off letting the Dakota Access Pipeline drill under the Missouri River in North Dakota because of concerns of local water users, the Corps, FERC, and FDEP should do the same: stop Sabal Trail from drilling under the Suwannee River.

Larry Buhl, DeSmogBlog, 4 December 2016, Critics Call $3 Billion Sabal Trail Pipeline Florida’s Dakota Access Pipeline,

As opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline swells at home and abroad, another pipeline project at the other end of the U.S. is quietly being installed as fast as possible, critics say, displacing residents, threatening water supplies, and racking up alleged construction violations.

And most people in the region — even those in the pipeline’s path — haven’t even heard about it.

Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, known as Sabal Trail, is using $3 billion of Florida Power and Light (FPL) ratepayer money to build a 515-mile pipeline to transport natural gas obtained via fracking from eastern Alabama to central Florida.

Activists Document Construction Violations

Opponents of Sabal Trail say that pipeline construction alone poses a threat to local water resources by releasing hazardous materials and drilling mud into waterways, and they say that several incidents of negligence have intensified those concerns.

In November drilling mud from the Sabal Trail pipeline leaked into south Georgia’s Withlacoochee River, a tributary to the Suwannee River.

John Quarterman, president of the Wwals Watershed Coalition, one of the groups opposing Sabal Trail, tells DeSmog that the incident would never have been reported if he hadn’t seen it while flying over the area on a routine survey.

“I noticed this yellow thing across the river where they were doing horizontal directional drilling. The permitting agency admitted it was a turbidity curtain to contain drilling mud, but they weren’t telling me where the mud was coming from,” said Quarterman.

Sabal Trail worker pumps water from a river.
A Sabal Trail pipeline worker in central Florida. The pipeline will run through conservation areas, under rivers and near springs. Credit: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

Quarterman told DeSmog such spills could affect the Floridan Aquifer, and that he wonders whether other discharges are not being reported publicly and whether the drilling could cause central Florida’s fragile underground cave system to collapse.

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, an organizer with the Sierra Club in Florida, told DeSmog that activists have documented multiple construction violations in the last six weeks, from plowing down homeowners’ fences to creating sinkholes.

One activist, Ronald Reedy, told DeSmog he observed an enormous piece of equipment, a track hoe, stuck in a wetland area in central Florida on two different days.

“The track hoe was tilting at a 45-degree angle and leaking diesel fuel. You could see the rainbow reflecting from the fuel slick. They’re not supposed to drive these things into the wetlands,” said Reedy.

“When they tried to remove it the next day, they had a man standing between two huge machines with no protection, an accident waiting to happen.”

Quarterman told DeSmog that activists are doing more oversight of construction than the permitting agencies.

Malwitz-Jipson and Quarterman believe that many violations and non-compliance issues are due to the speed of construction to keep the pipeline on track. Construction began in June to meet a May 2017 deadline, which has now been pushed to June 2017.

“They’re slamming this pipe into the ground, under water, as fast as they can and they’re careless,” said Reedy.

Malwitz-Jipson told DeSmog she hopes that enough violations will be documented that the U.S. Congress will step in.

If you’re in Georgia, you can sign the petition asking Georgia legislators to Protect Private Property Rights and Water from Gas Pipelines. Anywhere you are, you can contact your member of Congress and ask them to rein in the rogue agency FERC that rubberstamped this unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous fracked methane pipeline boondoggle.

Especially since one of the two DAPL pipeline companies, Enbridge, is buying Spectra Energy, the Sabal Trail pipeline company, it’s no longer just the same industry as in North Dakota: it’s the same pipeline company in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

You can contact FERC, the Corps, GA-EPD, FDEP, etc. Demand a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Demand work be stopped on Sabal Trail until that SEIS is complete. Demand real consultation with all of us who live here before the SEIS can be completed.


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