U.S. EPA Document Slams Sabal Trail Proposal

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Circulating widely today on the Internet are excerpts from a document released yesterday, Oct. 26, 2015 written to the FERC, which strongly recommends that Sabal Trail’s proposed pipeline be re-routed to avoid totally the sensitive and vulnerable karst terrain of North Florida and South Georgia.

The EPA has recently received an emergency petition to designate the entire Floridan Aquifer System as a sole source aquifer pursuant to §1424(e) the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This designation is for areas that may have no alternative drinking water source physically and economically available to supply all who depend on the aquifer for drinking water.

It remains to be seen what action, if any, this document may generate.  Do we have one government agency scolding another, or is it more than that?  Lots of money is involved, unfortunately.

Following is an important excerpt from the document, (a three page letter with a 27 page attachment) which can be seen in its original form here:

“The proposed pipeline is expected by the EPA to have significant impacts to karst areas in the State of Georgia and Florida and represents a potential threat to groundwater (and surface waters) resources. The EPA is requesting that the FERC develop an alternative route to avoid impacts to the Floridan Aquifer and its sensitive and vulnerable karst terrain. The EPA has recently received an emergency petition (1) to designate the entire Floridan Aquifer System as a sole source aquifer pursuant to s.1424(e) the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This designation is for areas that may have no alternative drinking water source physically and economically available to supply all who depend on the aquifer for drinking water. Moreover, the Florida Geological Survey has delineated a 32-county Springs Protection Area to protect the sole source of drinking water and the source of spring discharge, groundwater from the Floridan Aquifer…The EPA has rated the DEIS’s preferred alternative as ‘EO-2’, meaning that we have ‘environmental objections’ to a significant portion of the proposed pipeline route due to the magnitude of the impacts to jurisdictional wetlands and that we are requesting additional information that was not included. As currently proposed in the DEIS, the preferred alternative has the potential to violate the Section 404 requirements of the Clean Water Act…Furthermore, the proposed action has the potential to effect the designation of the Floridan Aquifer as a sole source aquifer under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA has substantial environmental concerns that local community water supplies could be adversely impacted in the future.”

4 Comments

  1. “an emergency petition “?….”significant impact “?….sounds like an “emergency” injunction is necessary asap…regardless of FERC’ s final decision pro or con to see whether the Federal EPA will draft/ implement a new designation for the Floridan Aquifer…

  2. Finally some good news about this pipeline. I see this as a small victory and one that is a product of your hard work and fearless opposition. Thank you OSFR for your help in this fight.

    Rich D

    1. Despite your comment, we’ll take the EPA comments seriously. We hope the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency will follow their advise and move the 36″ natural gas transmission pipeline out of our fresh water supply, the sole source aquifer, springs heartland, sinkhole landscape and culturally significant territory of the southern United States.

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