Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

January 2017 Prez Sez

Sabal Trail Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been in the news a lot lately, mostly because of the Native American protests against the potential threat to their drinking water if the pipeline under the Missouri River breaks, releasing Bakken Shale fracked oil. Work on the that pipeline has been on and off depending on the status of the permits with all the litigation.

Not so here with the $3.2-billion, 515-mile Sabal Trail Pipeline, which is planned to deliver 1 billion cubic feet of fracked natural gas a day from the Marcellus Shale to Florida energy companies.

Because it has been kept beneath the radar, the project has been winding its way through the regulatory process unnoticed for three years, and few people knew where it was going and just how much potential effect it could have on our rivers and springs. In fact, local governments seem to have been ignored or shut out of the regulatory process. Hamilton County Commission wrote a letter objecting to the project and even Suwannee County and Marion County officials said they had concerns, too. The Army Corps ignored a request by Madison County commissioners to further review the pipeline's potential environmental impacts.

On December 12th, The Tallahassee Democrat ran an article entitled “Sabal Trail Pipeline Cuts Through Heart of Springs Country” by Jeffrey Schweers, bringing much of this to light.   

According to the article, “The Sabal Trail pipeline is a joint project of Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light. Since November it's been clearing a right of way that is at least 50 feet wide through the heart of Florida springs territory, tunneling under the Withlacoochee, Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers and plowing through dozens of spring sheds — underground sources that feed the many natural springs in the region.

Most of the topography is karst, the crumbly crust of the Floridan aquifer that supplies drinking water to 20 million people in Florida and Georgia and is known for its caverns and sinkholes. A small sinkhole has already opened under State Road 129 in Suwannee County where the pipeline will cross.

Spectra Energy, the company responsible for overseeing the project, has begun pushing pipe under the Santa Fe and began drilling under the Suwannee this week.”

The article further states: “The project managers say the pipeline is needed to meet the needs of 20 million energy-hungry Floridians. And they say it's part of the plan to get off dirty oil and into cleaner natural gas.” However, they continue: “Florida Power & Light says it doesn't need the extra energy resources until 2024, according to its 10-year site plan.”

"They are out there digging in the dirt trying to lay down pipe as fast as they can because the public is now getting wind of it," she said. "They know we are going to be demonstrating and protesting and rallying and writing letters to Congress.”

If you would like to see more on the pipeline, check out the pipeline website, where you can see their  story as well as maps of the pipeline by county including the paths of other pipelines.  The Sabal Trail underground natural gas pipeline project originates in Alabama, stretches through Georgia and terminates in Florida ending at a compressor station north of Loughman in Osceola County, where it will connect with a second pipeline being constructed to Martin County.

Roughly 268 miles of this pipeline are located in Florida affecting 12 counties.

There is no end to the greed pf people who would put our most precious resources at risk for their personal gain.  The will not be 20 million people in Florida if there is no clean water either for consumption or recreation.