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On a rainy and cloudy Saturday about 70 passionate people gathered in Gainesville to talk about Sabal Trail. This meeting, called the “Grassroots Summit to stop Sabal Trail,” met at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Johanna de Graffenreid of Gulf Restoration Network of New Orleans organized the summit. Its co-sponsors were Our Santa Fe River, Sierra Club and Beyond Extreme Energy.
Many other groups assisted and or sent representatives, including Environment Florida, WWALS Watershed Coalition, ReThink Energy, Earth Ethics, Center for Biological Diversity, St. Johns Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, SpectraBusters, Trade Justice Alliance, Clean Water Network and Organize Now.
Chris Mericle of Madison County and Maxine Conner of Homosassa gave an up-date on the Sabal Trail saga in Florida, with latest developments. Other topics presented by speakers were Liquefied Natural Gas exports, pipelines and the anti-fracking connection, the involvement of minorities in the environmental struggle, landowners’ rights, natural gas storage and rail transport, compressor stations, and campaign and media strategies.
Pam Smith OSFR Patti Street OSFR
Terry Phelen OSFR Laura Dailey OSFR
Karen Mullins OSFR John Quarterman WWALS
Vicki Machado Gale Dickert
Deanna Mericle Rachel Center for Biological Diversity
Many speakers traveled from out-of-state and all parts of Florida in order to attend. OSFR was well represented by its membership, with President Pam Smith and Vice President Terry Phelen working at the information table. Also, OSFR policy director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson was there officially representing Sierra Club. She spoke informally to the group and provided additional history on the struggle against Sabal Trail in Florida, and also assisted with powerpoint presentations.
The mechanics of the program went smoothly thanks to the leadership of Johanna, who juggled the many pieces and kept everything on schedule. In addition, a delicious and abundant lunch for all was provided by Harvest Thyme Café of Gainesville .
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-