This information was taken from the Stop the Sabal Trail FB pages.
Join your friends and neighbors in protesting massive new gas pipelines across Florida! Protect our aquifers, springs, parks, wetlands, and wildlife! WILL BE RE-SCHEDULED
1. City of Okeechobee – Corner of 441 (Parrot Avenue) and Park Street (SR 70). The event will take place between 11 AM and 1 PM and will feature spoken words by Bobby C. Billie of the Miccosukee Simanolee Nation. Okeechobee is in close proximity to the Southeast Connection Pipeline. Bring water and snacks. Map to the location is here: http://bit.ly/2dD3WH5
2. City of Juno Beach at Florida Power and Light (FPL) Headquarters – 700 Universe Blvd., Juno Beach, FL 33408. This event will go from 3:00 to 6:00 PM and will feature a variety of groups and speakers. Again – bring water and snacks. Map is here: http://bit.ly/2dkqDgi
South Florida Wildlands is supporting the efforts of groups and individuals throughout our region who are coming together to protest both the Sabal Trail Pipeline and the Florida Southeast Connection Pipeline. Come for one or both (Okeechobee and Juno Beach are about an hour apart). If you can’t make either – feel free to post your comments and support here. Much more discussion of this issue and Florida’s energy future below:
Two of Florida’s largest electrical utilities – Duke Energy and NextEra Energy (parent company of Florida Power and Light or FPL) – have teamed up with Spectra Energy Corp to construct the Sabal Trail Pipeline – a 515-mile long, 36-inch wide interstate pipeline capable of bringing an additional 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily to the Sunshine State. The Florida Southeast Connection Pipeline will continue from Sabal Trail’s terminus near Orlando to the FPL Martin County gas plant – and to other new gas plants built or in the works in South Florida.
Map of the Sabal Trail Pipeline here:
Map of the Florida Southeast Connection Pipeline here:
Here are a few reasons why we believe these new pipelines are a bad idea – and a terrible choice for Florida:
1. Climate change is real – and Florida is already feeling the impacts. Greenhouse gases released by the combustion of fossil fuels – including natural gas – are warming our planet, raising sea levels and acidifying the oceans. Low-lying areas of our state like Miami Beach are already experiencing more frequent flooding and corals in the Florida Reef Tract – the third largest reef tract on the planet – are dying off at an unprecedented rate due to record warm waters and coral bleaching.
2. Electricity produced from natural gas is a poor substitute for coal or oil. While natural gas plants may produce less CO2 – they still produce significant amounts (millions of tons of CO2 per plant). And methane gas, the main constituent of natural gas, leaks into the environment from the wellhead to the power plant. The U.S. EPA estimates it to have 28–36 times the global warming potential of CO2 over a 100 year period. Plus, the current cheap cost and abundance of natural gas – thanks to the U.S. shale gas (fracking) revolution – is discouraging significant movement to truly sustainable non-fossil fuel based energy solutions.
3. As Florida’s population soars – and the U.S. Census estimates we’re now adding about 1,000 people per day – Duke Energy and FPL are building numerous new gas-fired power plants to meet expected demand. FPL has recently completed two new plants at Port Everglades and Riviera Beach with another near the City of Okeechobee ready to go. Duke is also building a new gas plant in Citrus County and FPL has purchased thousands of acres of primary Florida panther habitat north of the Big Cypress National Preserve for one of the largest fossil fuel-burning plants in the country. It will be a twin of FPL’s West County Energy Center (just north of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County) built several years ago – and will burn over 500 million cubic feet of natural gas daily. That’s about half the total capacity of the Sabal Trail Pipeline by itself. It will also use (and deep well inject) more than 20 million gallons per day of freshwater for cooling.
4. Pipelines and the power plants they serve combine to create massive impacts on Florida’s fragile environment and water supply. Here is the U.S. EPA’s original assessment of the impacts of the Sabal Trail Pipeline from October, 2015: “The proposed pipeline is expected to have potentially significant environmental issues related to drinking water supplies (Floridian aquifer), sensitive geologic formations (Karst), wetlands, conservation areas, environmental justice (EJ) communities, and air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” But only 7 weeks later – just when we thought the cavalry had arrived – the EPA reversed itself and gave approved for the project. Included in the many sensitive lands and waters the Sabal Trail Pipeline will cross is the Suwannee River (near its confluence with the Withlacoochee River) and Suwannee River State Park. Here is an eye-opening independent hydrologist’s report detailing some of the dangers to the river, aquifer, wetlands, springs (and possible sinkhole formation) from the 4,000-foot horizontal drilling operation which will take place at this location:
The Southeast Connection Pipeline will also cross numerous wetlands and waterbodies – including Fort Drum Creek – a main source of water for the Fort Drum Marsh (southern headwaters of the St. John’s River) and the Blue Cypress Conservation Areas. It will also be laid beneath the Kissimmee River just below the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes – headwaters for the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades ecosystem.
5. The massive investment of billions of dollars of the ratepayer’s money in new infrastructure and an energy future based predominantly on natural gas production (power plants and pipelines) does nothing to expand badly needed solar-generated electricity in the Sunshine State. FPL frequently boasts about the inexpensive and reliable energy they provide to their customers. They spend less time talking about the enormous profits they make in the process. But here is FPL’s energy portfolio from their website:
According to FPL itself, their portfolio consists of approximately 70 percent natural gas, 17 percent nuclear, 5 percent coal, 7 percent purchased power (includes “waste to energy” plants where garbage is burned), and a whopping 0.06 percent solar. And that in the state ranked #3 in the U.S. for rooftop solar potential. It is also, unfortunately, a state where third party rooftop solar (installed, maintained, and paid for by a solar company who then sells the electricity produced to the consumer at no upfront cost) is actually illegal. And FPL and Duke Energy worked hard to keep it that way – by teaming up to help defeat the “Floridians for Solar Choice” constitutional amendment earlier this year.
Obviously this is not our first rodeo with these folks and there’s much more we could talk about. See this Google Search of South Florida Wildlands Association and FPL to learn more about other issues involving conflicts between energy and our environment in South Florida:
But disagreements aside, it is high time to move rapidly towards a different vision of energy in the Sunshine State. And two new environmentally damaging gas pipelines should not be part of that. FPL and Duke Energy have enormous resources they could invest to help move us in that direction – including the ratepayers’ money. Using their expertise and financial strength to dramatically expand rooftop solar (not inefficient solar farms) would be far better than hitching Florida, more or less permanently, to a fossil fuel energy infrastructure.
Please share this page widely. And if you’re not familiar with South Florida Wildlands Association – please like our Facebook page and follow what we do to protect wildlife, habitat, and quality of life in our little corner of the world.