Bulletin

The Suwannee County Commission will consider on Tuesday asking a regulatory agency to investigate sinkholes near the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline’s proposed route. 

At its next meeting, the commission will consider sending a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which must issue a permit for the pipeline project. 

The letter would mimic one Hamilton County recently voted to send, said Suwannee County Commissioner Wesley Wainwright. 

Wainwright asked to have a discussion on Suwannee County sending a similar letter.

There were discrepancies between documentation provided by Sabal Trail and what he saw when he visited the route, he said. 

The Suwannee County Commission attended a workshop in February, where they traveled to the spot where the Sabal Trail pipeline would cross the Suwannee River. Though Wainwright didn’t attend that workshop, he later visited different parts of the route, he said. 

According to Sabal Trail, there are no active sinkholes in a close proximity to the pipeline path. 

However, Wainwright said, there is a sinkhole within around 75 feet of the route.

“It was closer than what had been described in the Sabal Trail outline,” he said. “Significantly closer.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hasn’t issued its final permit yet, Wainwright said.

The letter would ask the corps to go out and look at that particular area, near the Suwannee River State Park.

Sabal Trail is a partnership between Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and NextEra Energy. The pipeline would be operated by the Texas-based Spectra Energy. 

The roughly 500-mile pipeline would run from Alabama through Georgia and several Florida counties, supplying energy to Florida Power & Light. Its route passes directly through Suwannee County. 

It could provide over 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in the Southeastern market, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Sabal Trail’s route would pass through conservation areas and wetlands, as well as under the Suwannee River. 

Several local residents, in addition to environmental groups, oppose the pipeline. One of the  concerns, which has been brought up repeatedly by groups such as WWALS Watershed Coalition, is the sensitive nature of Florida’s geology. 

Spectra Energy, in an email from earlier in the year, said construction of the pipeline would start around May or June. 

The Suwannee County Commission have its next meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Suwannee County Judicial Annex, 218 Parshley St. SW.

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