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Florida Pipeline Protests Grow as Construction Continues

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Opponents of the Sabal Trail Pipeline say it will damage environmentally sensitive areas of Florida and put drinking water at risk. (WWALS Watershed Coalition)
Opponents of the Sabal Trail Pipeline say it will damage environmentally sensitive areas of Florida and put drinking water at risk. (WWALS Watershed Coalition)
February 2, 2017

LIVE OAK, Fla. – As a small group holds vigil near the Suwannee River in north Florida, a growing chorus of voices across the state and online is speaking out against the proposed Sabal Trail Pipeline.

Plans call for the 515-mile natural gas pipeline to tunnel under forests, wetlands, ranches, and several bodies of water.

It would also sit above the Floridan Aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for millions of people.

The energy companies behind the project say it will bring affordable natural gas and jobs to the area.

But John Quarterman, president of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Suwannee Riverkeeper, one of the groups opposing the pipeline, maintains there is a much better option.

"Solar power is now cheaper than any other source of power, does not require eminent domain, taking people's land,” he states. “Does not require any water for testing, cooling or anything like that. "

The consortium behind the project insists safety measures are in place, but Quarterman says his group and others have turned up numerous locations where drilling has already resulted in sinkholes.

Earlier this month, eight pipeline protesters were arrested near Live Oak, and the #StopSabalTrail began trending on social media.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, citing in part their economic impact.

But Quarterman argues there's much more job-creating potential in clean energy, particularly for states like Florida.

"Any president who's concerned about energy independence or the economy of this country ought to get off of pipelines and get us on to solar power and wind power, as quickly as possible," he stresses.

Work on the Sabal Trail Pipeline began last year and is expected to wrap up this summer, despite numerous legal attempts to block it.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL