by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
This is an informal how to guide for action to be a witness to violations and non-compliance issues associated with permits on the Sabal Trail Gas Transmission.
You do not have to know everything about a permit to be aware of concerns associated with this construction project to build a 36″ gas pipeline into the wetlands, rivers, springs, lakes, sandhills, karstic features, swamps, mud bogs and neighborhoods of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
What you do have to know or sense is this does not look right and there is something wrong.
When you approach the 50 to 100 feet of a Right of Way (ROW), slowly approach and maneuver your car to park in a secure side of the road, without trespassing on to anyone’s property. The FHP officers have asked that we wear bright yellow or orange vests if we are on busy roadways.
Make sure you have a camera, pen and paper. Look around and size up the situation. Get out of your car carefully and do remember that there will be traffic coming through these public roads. Take your time, you are allowed to be on the shoulder of a public right of way. You may take pictures. Look at the edges of the destruction corridor and think about 100 or 50 feet of clear cutting. You can count it out with your feet, if you can guess what 12 inches looks and feels like under you feet and walk the entire stretch.
There are many times that the work site needs additional space, beyond 100″ ROW. But, question that too. Because we have found them working outside the limited ROW space and that is a violation.
The gopher tortoise permit issued by FWC was supposed to be one of the few permits that was to be on display at a work site, but we have not found one permit on site, instead we find inadequate signs or posters that speak about habitat to threatened and endangered and species of interest, such as the Florida black bear.
Take pictures of all the signs, including the orange road signs. Very rarely do you see signs that say pipeline construction ahead, instead they say “road work ahead” or “simply construction ahead”.
The lack of permits on site and the lack of adequate signage is significant as it speaks to the fact that much of the public still does not know about this compressed gas transmission pipeline being dug into Florida.
Make a record, videotape, take pictures, written record, date time, location and who or description of interaction.
Many times the worker people will come to you and try make you leave. Know your rights, you are allowed to be in a public right of way. They cannot make you to leave. You are allowed to document what you see. You may ask them questions.
Send your materials and comments to:
file report in the ecomments under docket number CP15-17
Depending on the issue, you may also want to contact your US Congressional leadership. US Senators and US Representatives are the ones who can ultimately stop the entire project.
If there is something egregious like an undocumented sinkhole, like citizens found in Suwannee County recently on CR 49, please consider contacting the press and use social media to get the word out.