The following article is from the Feb. 23, 2017 Gainesville Sun. The news here draws attention to the folly and greed exhibited by Sabal Trail pipeline, an unnecessary and dangerous project which only locks us farther into the destructive fossil fuel syndrome. Inevitably we will change to sustainable energy, but meanwhile Congressmen heavily invested in oil continue to exert their power to fill their pockets and pollute our planet.
Go to this link to see the entire article.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
SABAL TRAIL PIPELINE
By Austin L. Miller and Andrew Caplan
SOUTHWEST MARION COUNTY— Two people wedged themselves about 250 feet deep into the bright green, three-footwide Sabal Trail pipeline early Wednesday in protest of the multi-state project.
Other protesters who preferred to keep their feet on the ground called the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to report what was going on.
Authorities said the man and woman were locked together using a device to make it difficult for authorities to remove them from each other. Officials tried at length to talk the two out of the pipe.
By late afternoon, Karrie Kay Ford, 29, and Nicholas Segal-Wright, 25, had been pulled from the pipe in what Marion County Fire Rescue spokesman James Lucas called a “confined space rescue” by the agency’s Technical Rescue and HAZMAT teams. He said they did so because they were concerned with the oxygen level in the pipe.
Ford and Segal-Wright first were evaluated by medical personnel at the scene— 12500 SW State Road 200 — then were taken to the nearby TimberRidge Hospital. After they received clearance, they both were taken to the Marion County Jail.
Protesters move back as Marion County Sheriff’s deputies extended the safety zone near where two other protestors who crawled into the Sabal Trail pipeline Wednesday near the Halpata Tastanaki Preserve. [ ALAN YOUNGBLOOD/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER]
They each were charged with grand theft between $20,000 to $100,000, trespassing on a posted construction site and criminal mischief. Officials said the grand theft charge was levied because the two temporarily deprived the construction company from the use of their pipeline.
Ford also was charged with resisting arrest without violence after she refused to remove a device from her arm that restricted deputies as they tried to take her into custody and she moved deeper into the pipe.
As for the protest, she said she was “standing for the Florida aquifer,” and building the pipeline is “destroying our waterways.” She labels the taking of land to build the pipeline as “snatch and grab.”
“We made a strong point,” she said.
Segal-Wright said he has been a part of the group that’s protesting the pipeline — called Sabal Trail Resistance — for a month.
He calls Wednesday’s protest a “success” and asked whether or not he would’ve stayed inside, he declined to answer. Though he would not say whose idea it was to go in the pipeline, he said the pipe’s potential leakage is “a danger” to the area.
The head of security for Sabal Trail told authorities that three sections of pipe were rendered “useless” and would have to be replaced, at a cost of $28,000.
There have been a number of protests against the trail in recent weeks.
The pipeline is a 515mile, $3.2 billion endeavor that will snake through Alabama, Georgia and much of Florida, including through Marion County, while crossing 699 bodies of water along the way. The project is expected to transport about 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to help provide electricity to Floridians across the state. Nearly two-thirds of Florida relies on natural gas for its electricity.
Lauren Lettelier, a public information officer with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, said they received a call early Wednesday about the duo in the pipes. She said they dispatched field force officers, who are trained in search and rescue, as well as patrol deputies.
Yellow crime scene tape surrounded the scene.
Across the street, a woman who would only give her name as Melissa was waving a sign that stated, “Defend Our Springs.”
She said the pipes — which stretched to the north as far as the eye could see, and which are elevated off the ground on wooden supports— are “bad for the environment.”
She said that, when the pipes are placed underground, they could pollute the aquifer for ages in the event of a leak or a mishap, loosing “dangerous toxics.”
“That would damage our springs, our waterway, our way of life,” she said. “Not only water, but also unique species, endangered animals and other species that depend on water for survival.”
There is a huge staging area, or contractor yard, on the west side of Interstate 75 just south of County Road 326 in Ocala. The pipeline runs about 20 miles to the west of Ocala, near Dunnellon.
The Pruitt Trailhead, a popular horseback riding location along County Road 484, is another controversial point crossed by the pipeline. One of its trails connects to the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.
The pipeline also leads into the Halapata Tastanaki Preserve, the site of a battle during the Second Seminole Indian war, in 1836. The preserve is connected to miles of riverfront on the Withlacoochee River, which is being crossed by the pipeline. The river features several Floridan aquifer recharge areas along its path.
The Sabal Trail pipeline will go to Florida Power and Light, which first called for a modernization of its facilities by shutting down its oil and coal plants, and Duke Energy, which is building a gas powered facility.
Officials with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission once shared concerns over the pipeline’s effect on the environment and karst terrain, but later flipped and approved it.
“The Commission’s environmental staff concluded based on its review of the project … that the potential for the Sabal Trail project to initiate or be affected by damaging karst conditions has been adequately minimized,” wrote Craig Cano, a FERC spokesman, in an email.
Also on Wednesday, about two miles away at a different part of the pipeline, where the pipes are already underground, six people were protesting near the 1500 block of Southwest County Road 484.
Laura Catlow, of Levy County, said they were moving back and forth between sites because there were 13 semi tractor- trailers bringing in equipment workers would use to bury more pipe.
“They are destroying the environment doing that,” she said.
She said she is a nature lover and is protesting because her property in Levy County is surrounded “on three sides by this pipe. I feel we are under siege.”
She also said that Sabal Trail jobs are not going to Floridians and that people behind the project are “supporting a foreign entity.”
Janet Barrow, who lives along CR484, said she has been “watching this process for 3 ½
years.” She said the project was approved using “erroneous data.”
Barrow said the pipeline runs behind schools in Dunnellon and she is “upset with the government for approving this process.” She also said those behind the pipeline took private land by eminent domain and are using it for profit.
“We are fighting this as hard as we can,” Catlow added. “We are not going to stop.”
A little after 1 p.m. Wednesday, Lucas said the man was out of the pipe. About an hour later, he said the woman also was out of the pipe.
Ford is a former Gainesville resident and organizer against potentially environmental harmful projects. Those who know her said she recently sold all her belongings and moved out of her house to become a full-time protester. She bounces from camp to camp to help spread awareness about the pipeline.
Ford was also one of 14 arrested protesting the pipeline in Gilchrist County in November. She recently told The Gainesville Sun she was not allowed to have contact with other protesters or be near construction sites, per court order.
Segal-Wright is from Lake Worth.
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