A crowd of around 50 people turned out at Lake City High School Thursday evening to request that representatives of FERC accept opinion and testimony regarding the imminent Sabal Trail pipeline. About 16 people voiced strong opposition, some more than once, while two union representatives extolled the job opportunities it might bring.
Heart-rending testimony from affected landowners was expressed, and oil worker Rocky Stewart of Corpus Christi delivered dire warnings of the high risk involved when placing dangerous explosive substances in sinkhole-laden karst.
Risk of safety was emphasized by several speakers, as well as the fact that the pipeline was unnecessary and unwanted and would serve only to garner profits for its owners. Nearly every speaker mentioned sinkholes, karst terrain and our vulnerable Floridan aquifer.
Among the most impressive testimony was a father who spoke of three families with 28 children residing within one half mile of the Hildreth Compressor Station, fearful of the air quality and disaster potential of the nearby explosive gas.
OSFR was well represented and several members spoke against the pipeline, including President Pam Smith, Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Historian Jim Tatum, and members Sue Karcher, Laura Dailey, Harry Patterson, Billie Joe Benedict and Marihelen Wheeler.
Other speakers were John Quarterman and Deanna and Chris Mericle of WWALS, Debra Johnson of Spectrabusters and Vicki Machado, very active in the Floridians Against Fracking Coalition and formerly of Food and Water Watch. WWALS has successfully challenged the Florida DEP for a hearing which is slated to take place soon.