Protesters Gather to Try and Block Sabal Trail Pipeline Project

Drill site on the Santa Fe near the 129 bridge. Photo by Andrew Caplan

The Santa Fe River is under siege, as a three-foot diameter pipe is being placed in a bore hole under it, through sink hole-laden karst where a leak will ruin our sole source aquifer.  In spite of the efforts of many environmental groups which pointed out the unnecessary dangers and risks associated with this private for-profit enterprise, our environmental protective agencies all gave their blessings to complete the project.

Drilling, digging, tree clearing, tortoise cleansing, burrowing owl taking (i.e. killing,) pipe laying are all taking place as we write, across Georgia and Florida so that SpectraEnergy may grow richer.

This line was approved by agencies which took not the time to heed warnings from Members of Congress, counties, and from non-interested scientists.   This line was  approved by agencies paid by the oil companies and  approved by a governor with personal investments in the enterprise.  This line which forcefully took land from individuals under the sham of eminent domain, to pump gas which will not benefit the state in which they live, which will likely be exported to foreign countries and which we do not need  to meet our energy needs.

A few individuals are working to stop this, as described by Andrew Caplan in the Gainesville Sun.  You may read the entire article at this link.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Protesters gather to try and block Sabal Trail pipeline project


Posted Nov 4, 2016 at 7:45 PM Updated Nov 5, 2016 at 11:30 AM

By Andrew Caplan
The woman who called Gov. Rick Scott “an embarrassment” at a Gainesville Starbucks has another bone to pick with the governor — and this time she has back up.

Cara Jennings, a community activist, plans to spend her weekend with about 100 others camping out in Branford, near the Santa Fe River, to protest the Sabal Trail pipeline. Her husband, Panagoiti Tsolkas, said it will be the largest protest to the pipeline yet.

“Governor Scott has shown that he’s inept to deal with environmental-climate issues,” Jennings said. “His support for this pipeline is part of his legacy of bad decisions that hurt the people of Florida and our environment.”

The couple plans to stay with other activists, Cindy Noel and Mike Roth, of Branford, who are allowing the faction to camp out on their property until Monday. Noel and Roth said they are typically private people, but the issue is “too important” to ignore.

Noel and Roth’s plans for the group include civil disobedience and blockade training, informing others how to report violations and build strategies for protecting water. They have two porta potties for visitor use but aren’t supplying food. Dogs, drugs and alcohol are prohibited from the campsite.

Protesters already have arrived from across Florida and as far away as the state of Washington, with more expected.

The Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the encampment. Capt. Sheryl Brown said protesting is the group’s right, as long as it doesn’t interfere with construction workers doing their jobs.

“If it becomes criminal, then we’ll get involved,” Brown said.

Brown added the protesters are restricted from impeding traffic and blocking entry to private property and are typically handled on a case-by-case basis.

Signs at the entry points of the construction sites state it is a felony to trespass on the properties. The pipeline is set to cross the Santa Fe River about 3.5 miles downriver from where it meets water from Ichetucknee Springs.

Noel and Roth said that won’t stop them. Noel joked that it would be another thing to scratch off her bucket list, expecting her mother would bail her out.

“Anything we can do to slow them down to maybe miss their permitting deadlines,” Roth said. “We want to make sure they go by the book. We know they’re not.”

Roth said his biggest concern is the aquifer and saving the lives of tortoises, which he said are being steamrolled by machinery. He said he fears methane will leak from the pipe and enter the water supply unnoticed.

“This is our only drinking water out here,” he said. “How long before they discover it? How big does it have to get? How long until they get a crew out there to fix it? No one will know because it’s not blowing up.”

“From the get-go, these companies say it’s done deal, it’s starting,” Tsolkas said. “From my opinion it’s never a done deal until you stop fighting.”

— Contact reporter Andrew Caplan at or on Twitter @AACaplan.



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