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Democracy Trailblazers ignite enthusiasm among teen voters; CA monster blizzard batters Tahoe, Mammoth, Sierra amid avalanche warnings; MN transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard; IN teachers 'stunned' by lawmakers' bid to bypass collective bargaining.

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Nikki Haley says she may not endorse the GOP nominee, President Biden says the U-S will continue air-dropping aid into Gaza and more states look at ditching the electoral college for a national popular vote.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Groups File Suit to Block Fracked Gas Line through Florida

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Friday, August 19, 2016   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A controversial plan to build a $3 billion gas pipeline through the heart of Florida has hit a snag, as three groups have filed a petition in court to block its construction.

The Southeast Market Pipelines Project would transport fracked natural gas across close to 700 lakes, rivers and streams, and potentially impact nearly 2,000 wetland systems in three states.

Raleigh Hoke, campaign manager for the Gulf Restoration Network - one of the groups filing the lawsuit in federal court - explained people along the proposed route have been speaking out against it for years.

"The public has continually been left out of the decision-making process for this project, and that's just not acceptable," Hoke insisted. "Our water and our communities are too important to risk for the benefit of this out-of-state, fracked-gas company."

If built, the pipeline would extend through Florida and southern Georgia, over an area that provides drinking water for about 10 million people.

The groups Flint Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club also are parties to the lawsuit, which alleges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to properly notify the public or allow for input, and that the plans don't do enough to mitigate environmental impacts.

Hoke maintained it isn't only the communities the pipeline would pass through that would be affected. The plan allows for the companies building the pipeline to discharge dredged and fill material into water bodies, such as wetlands, during construction.

"You're also talking about this pipeline going through some of the most beautiful and pristine springs - not just in Florida, but in the world," he said. "And it's incredibly important that we're protecting this resource that is part of the natural heritage of Florida residents, but also this big driver of the economy when it comes to tourism."

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave final approval for construction to begin on the southernmost portion of the pipeline, stretching 126 miles from Central Florida to Martin County. The northern portion, known as the Sabal Trail, hasn't yet been green-lighted.



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