Collier and Lee Counties Edition

Environmentally Speaking

Stop the Sabal Trail Pipeline

Construction is underway for the $3.2 billion, 515-mile-long interstate Sabal Trail transmission pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized this project of Duke Energy, NextEra Energy and Spectra Energy which runs from central Alabama through southwestern Georgia and into central Florida.

In Alabama, Georgia and Florida, opposition to controversial construction of the pipeline, which will transport natural gas obtained via fracking, continues to grow. In Florida and Georgia, environmentalists, water protectors and citizens are drawing attention to the pipeline’s threat to the regions’ sensitive porous limestone bedrock, aquifers, water quality and desecration of sacred Indian tribal sites.

In the aquifer, water runs through the bedrock and flows not only through small pores, but also through extensive underground caves. When under pressure, water can bubble up to the surface in a multitude of freshwater springs throughout the region, which makes it easy to imagine how contamination to the limestone aquifer in one area can spread rapidly and widely. Additionally, recent research by the University of Georgia maps the prevalence of sinkholes.  

Water consumption is estimated to double during the next half-century due to urban sprawl and the growth of Florida’s population that is expected to reach 34 million by 2070. With the future of Florida’s fragile water supply already under scrutiny by the University of Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and the smart-growth group 1,000 Friends of Florida, the risk to water supplies has been deemed dramatic and currently unsustainable in the state’s most heavily populated areas, including South and Central Florida.

A sit-in to stop the drilling under the Suwanee River for the crossing of the pipeline is planned for Jan. 15 at Suwannee River State Park, 3631 201st Path, in Live Oak. For more information on this event and campsites for activists at the Water is Life Camp in Branford and Crystal Water Camp in Kissimmee, visit

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