OSFR President Smith Quoted in Gainesville Sun

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OSFR President Pam Smith Speaks to FERC Representatives

The Gainesville Sun published an article on October 2, 2015 outlining the meeting in Lake City with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission representatives and citizens concerned about the Sabal Trail pipeline about to be approved by the federal agency.

OSFR president Pam Smith is quoted in the article by Christopher Curry:

“It has taken a billion years to develop the aquifer to its perfection…to add an additional risk factor to this amazing natural resource is just an abomination,” said Pamela Smith, president of the environmental group Our Santa Fe River.


Read more of the article here,  but go to this link to see the entire piece by Christopher Curry.  This article was also published this same day in the Ocala Star Banner.


Small crowd, big opposition to natural gas pipeline

FERC Representative John Peconom

By Christopher Curry
Staff writer

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 10:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 10:46 p.m.

A small, but vocal crowd turned out in Lake City Thursday evening to loudly oppose the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline that is moving toward state and federal approval.

About 30 people attended a meeting at the Columbia County High School auditorium to provide public comment on the Federal Energy Regulatory draft report on the projected environmental impact of the $3.2 billion, 515-mile, 3-foot-wide pipeline.

The pipeline will carry up to 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day from Alabama through south Georgia and a dozen Florida counties, including including Alachua, Gilchrist, Suwannee, Levy and Marion, to a connector pipeline in Osceola County, where the line would end.

From the start of Thursday’s meeting, one point of contention for the crowd was the location of the meeting itself. The pipeline is not planned to run through Columbia County and speakers opposed to the project said the meeting should have been in Hamilton or Suwannee counties, where the pipeline route is planned and affected property owners live.

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission representative said they selected the location because they did not feel there were facilities in Suwannee or Hamilton that could accommodate the expected crowd.

Speakers also opposed the pipeline over concerns about potential environmental harm to rivers, springs, the aquifer, groundwater, wetlands and wildlife habitat and the potential for sinkholes.

“It has taken a billion years to develop the aquifer to its perfection…to add an additional risk factor to this amazing natural resource is just an abomination,” said Pamela Smith, president of the environmental group Our Santa Fe River.

The federal environmental report on the planned pipeline construction route through south Georgia and north Florida identified potential environmental damage because of the region’s karst geology, with its underground caves, underground stream systems and vulnerability to sinkholes; the potential impact on groundwater quality and quantity and springs.

In their analysis, FERC staff said pipeline construction along most of the route would only have impacts 6 to 8 feet below the surface and “groundwater and cave systems are generally found at greater depths.”

Deeper underground drilling would occur at two spots in Georgia and three in Florida, federal regulators wrote, including the locations where the pipeline would cross under the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers.

The pipeline is a joint venture between FPL parent company NextEra, Duke and Spectra Energy, the company that wants to design, build and operate the pipeline.

Their application says the pipeline will provide natural gas for Florida Power & Light electric generation and a Duke Energy plant in Citrus County.

But the bulk of the potential environmental impacts are in rural north Florida.

“The citizens in the counties this pipeline will go through will get no benefit from this pipeline,” said Deanna Mericle, a Hamilton County resident and member of the the environmental group WWALS Watershed Coalition.

This group has an active legal challenge to a pending Florida department of Environmental Protection approval of the project. It’s scheduled to go to an administrative law judge this month.

Pipeline opponents also pointed to safety issues in Spectra’s past that most recently included the rupture of a pipeline under the Arkansas River over the summer.

Spectra Energy did not have a spokesperson at Thursday’s meeting and issued a statement beforehand that noted, in part, that an environmental impact statement said while construction will temporarily affect the environment, the project would not result in significant environmental impact.

The company’s statement also suggested the project would not significantly impact karst terrain, springs or the Floridan aquifer and that they had consulted with area experts to ensure that.

Another public input meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at Bell High School, 930 S Main St. in Bell.

Public comments on the federal government’s draft environmental report are being accepted until Oct. 26 and may be submitted online at www.FERC.gov.


  1. nancyOctober 25, 2012I know about the crystalline pturiy of limestone filtered Florida springs we lived there in the late 70s outside Tampa and loved the springs there was one we used to go to that had a place where the water bubbled up through the sand at the bottom and it was like floating in a champagne glass. Loved it thanks for the happy memories and your photos and stories are wonderfullove youn

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