A large protest is being planned this weekend at the Suwannee River State Park against the construction of the Sabal Trail Pipeline. Activists fear that the $3.2 billion, 515-mile natural gas pipeline that is intended to run through North Florida into Central Florida will create a huge environmental calamity and contaminate the state’s drink water supply.
Construction on the pipeline began in November and is scheduled to be completed and operating by this summer. But not if citizens concerned about the impact on the state’s water supply and endangered species are successful in getting the government to stop it.
That’s what happened last month in North Dakota, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blocked the continuing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, where thousands of activists had descended in near freezing temperatures to stop the project from advancing.
Also helping to organize against the Sabal Trail pipeline is Tim Canova, the Nova Southeastern law professor who ran an insurgent campaign against Debbie Wasserman Schultz last summer before falling short in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.
In his role as the head of the political action group Progress For All, Canova announced a petition drive last month to oppose the pipeline. More than 89,000 signatures have now signed on to petition at Change.org.
“It’s not a question of if this pipeline will leak, but when,” Canova wrote to members last week. “And when it does, it will undoubtedly pollute one of the world’s largest aquifers which provides 60 percent of drinking water to the nation’s third most populated state. “
Canova says that when he began querying members of Progress For All on what was the top issue that they cared about, opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership topped the list. But following right behind was opposition to fracking and the pipelines used to transmit natural gas through fracking.
The petition now has 89,390 signatures, which Canova says will soon be collected and shown to Florida Senator Bill Nelson.
Local bans against hydraulic fracking have been passed in 80 Florida cities and counties, and GOP state Senator Dana Young from Tampa and Democrat Gary Farmer from Fort Lauderdale are proposing legislation in the upcoming session to ban the practice throughout the state.