Hundreds Protest Sabal Trail Pipeline in Florida, in Nod to Standing Rock
(APN) LIVE OAK, Florida — Hundreds of clean water protectors converged on Suwanee State Park on January 14 and 15, 2017, to stop the Sabal Trail Pipeline from drilling under the Suwannee River near Live Oak, Florida.
Clean water protectors are concerned that spills and leaks from Spectra Energy’s planned Sabal Trail fracked gas pipeline will pollute the Southeastern aquifer and endanger the health of current and future generations.
Over 300 hundred water protectors walked or drove to the Sabal Trail easement right of way to support an additional sixty peaceful protesters who were willing to risk arrest by tying themselves together with arm tubes for a sit-in on a dirt road to block water trucks needed to drill under the Suwanee River.
“We are here fighting for human life. Money has taken precedence over the human race surviving, and this is serious, and that’s why this Sabal Trail pipeline is moving ahead illegally,” a woman representing the Florida Environmental Coalition and a member of the Florida Indigenous Independence told Atlanta Progressive News.
“They are breaking all kinds of state and federal construction and environmental laws and human health laws, and no one is making them answer for that because they are being reported by the hundreds by a daily basis and nothing is happening,” she continued.
Before this reporter could get her name, it was announced that some twenty more police cars had arrived; and people who did not want to be arrested ran for the safe zone.
The stand-off between those risking arrest, their supporters, and numerous different law enforcement agencies and officers lasted for hours. No one was arrested and everyone prayed and sang songs during the long stand off.
At the actual drilling site on the Suwanee River, law enforcement offices were positioned about five feet apart for about 200 yards to protect the equipment.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline has raised awareness of the very real dangers of oil and gas pipeline leaks across the country; but Standing Rock is just the site of one of several proposed pipelines of equal or greater danger.
Now Sacred Water Camps are being created in other U.S. states to oppose their pipelines. One woman said she had visited five Sacred Water Camps in four states.
A new analysis of oil and gas pipeline safety in the United States reveals a troubling history of spill, contamination, injuries, and deaths.
The data covering 1986 to 2013 show there have been nearly 8,000 significant pipeline incidents–nearly 300 per year on average–resulting in more than 500 deaths, more than 2,300 injuries, and nearly seven billion dollars in damage, According to analysis by Dr. Richard Stover and the Center for Biological Diversity.
No one really knows for sure how much damage has already been done to the environment and human life by the fossil fuel industry, because corporate media rarely reports these incidents.
APN first wrote about Sabal Trail back in September 2016.
The reason Sabal Trail Pipeline is more dangerous than many other pipelines is because it runs through the largest naturally artesian aquifers in the world, which lies under parts of Alabama, South Georgia, and most of Florida.
The underground water in the Georgia and Florida aquifer is contained in limestone that is porous with cracks and fissures, which looks like Swiss cheese and is prone to sinkholes.
Let’s not forget the name “Okefenokee”, as in Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia, is a Native American word meaning “trembling earth.”
It is unconscionable to put highly pressurized and explosive pipelines through an area where there are spontaneous forming sinkholes and the underground area is not stable.
It is insane to endanger an irreplaceable water resource that millions of people depend on for clean water.
“I’m here representing the African American community and because I love the planet, land, water, and the Suwanee River. It’s a shame that we allow a corporation to have more power than the people,” Fay Williams from Gainesville, Florida, told APN.
“These pipelines are going through all the marginalized and Black communities from North Dakota to Florida. This is environmental racism,” Williams said.
“This Sabal Trail pipeline will rupture just like all of Spectra Energy other pipelines have, and will pollute my community, my people, and my family. I’m here to stand with Live Oak,” Makeda Ruth Meeks, whose family lives in the area, tells APN.
Sabal Trail is only one of numerous new fracked oil and gas pipelines being built across the nation, even as citizens are increasingly demanding clean and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
Many Millennials and others are realizing that water, air, and a healthy environment are more important than acquiring material objects.
Tabitha Milian was at Standing Rock for several months, and said it changed her watching the police doing the bidding of the corporations.
“Corporations are making money and breaking all the laws and hurting people. It shows how capitalism is running everything and it doesn’t care about life or people. The politicians are not working in our interests, they are only working in the interest of money and power,” Milian, a water protector, told APN.
“We are out of balance with life and we disrespect life, so we hurt ourselves, others, and Mother Earth. We carry hurt in our heart and it breaks the sacred connection between our mind and our heart,” Thomas Keene-Wall, of European and Native American ancestry, said.
“My grandfather talks about, to become human is to reconnect our hearts and our minds,” Kenne-Wall said.
What is even more ironic is that Florida, the Sunshine State, does not need any new power because it is moving in the direction of solar power, a clean and safe source of energy.
But it gets worse: most of the fracked gas will be converted to liquid natural gas and exported to other countries.
So the underground aquifer, about one thousand wetlands, and hundreds of rivers and creeks in three states are being sacrificed for corporate profits and will run the risk of pollution and/or permanent damage.
Sabal Trail has already caused numerous sinkholes in Florida, including two in public roads, according to the WWALS Watershed Coalition.