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Construction of $3.2B Sabal Trail Pipeline to Begin Soon

The move came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized permits allowing the companies building the project to discharge dredged and fill materials into wetlands during construction.

Mon August 29, 2016 - Southeast Edition #18
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Federal environmental regulators had previously projected that the project will destroy or impact less than 900 acres of wetlands, but dropped those concerns later in the permitting process.
Federal environmental regulators had previously projected that the project will destroy or impact less than 900 acres of wetlands, but dropped those concerns later in the permitting process.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Construction of a new $3.2-billion natural gas pipeline that will travel through three Southeastern states could begin shortly after the project received its final approvals on Aug. 13 despite years of challenge from environmental groups.

The Gainesville Sun reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the start of construction on a piece of the 516-mi. (830 km) Sabal Trail project in north Florida.

The move came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized permits allowing the companies building the project to discharge dredged and fill materials into wetlands and other water bodies during construction.

The project, joint effort by Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light, will carry natural gas from Alabama, through Georgia, into Florida.

The permit will require the companies to buy offset credits for so-called “wetland mitigation banks,' which are preserved or restored wetlands that are meant to offset losses incurred from Army Corps projects elsewhere.

Federal environmental regulators had previously projected that the project will destroy or impact less than 900 acres of wetlands, but dropped those concerns later in the permitting process.

Spectra Energy spokeswoman Andrea Grover told the newspaper that the start of construction was targeted for late August. The pipeline will be divided into five segments on which building will begin simultaneously, she said.

Environmental groups have opposed it over concerns about its effects on wetlands, springs and sinkholes, and vowed to keep fighting.

The Sierra Club's Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson told the newspaper the group would continue seeking legal challenges.

“We will use all legal means necessary to stop this fracked gas pipeline,' she said in a text message.


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