We Are Fracking Up the Earth: Why You Should Care About the Sabal Trail Pipeline

By Alexis Frankel on December 10, 2016

For years, a long battle between a subsidiary of the company Energy Transfer Partners and multiple Native American tribes (like the Lakota and Sioux), joined by environmentalists, has been waged because of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). After becoming truly public this year through the media, inciting a huge protest at the Standing Rock reservation, the pipeline access was partially denied under President Barack Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers (or under his administration, I should say). Social media had a huge role in supporting protesters (who called themselves Water Protectors), calling upon its users to spread the word about the violence placed upon the protesters by the Morton County police. Campaigns scrolled through people’s feeds asking them to withdraw their money from big banks that supported the initiative. So, is it over? Not really, especially with the Sabal Trail Pipeline being built through Florida.


A huge aspect of the Army Corps of Engineers stopping the pipeline (which was over 80% completed) was that it took advantage of Native American’s land, you know, just like we did when we colonized the United States. The states the pipeline runs through and was initially supposed to run through, used the governmental power of eminent domain, which essentially gives them the power to kick people off their private property for governmental use. This in itself was an outrage because of the little land left to Native Americans at this point, but also attaches much stronger environmental repercussions to it. If any pipeline leaks were to occur while and after its production, it would ruin their entire tribes’ water supply as well as seriously damage the environment.

Fracking at its simplest terms, is shooting high pressure liquid into rock to extract oil or gas. This is horrible for the environment because it encourages energy companies to continue a dependence on these types of limited energy sources instead of putting time and financial resources into renewable energy. Additionally, fracking uses a stupid amount of water, which further plummets the environment into a hole that is being literally and physically drilled deeper. Fracking is occurring right now in Florida where the Sabal Trail Pipeline will cover 268 miles through major watersheds, areas that are environmentally sensitive, and would exercise the power of eminent domain to kick people out of residential neighborhoods, states Desmog. With this, the speedy, unsupervised construction has already caused negative environmental implications.


“Fracking anywhere in Florida would affect communities all over the state. Fracking must be banned to protect our state’s clean water and communities,” states FSU student, Blake Fleming. “This pipeline will be a disaster waiting to happen! It already leaked drilling mud into the Withlacoochee River [a river roughly in between Orlando and Tampa].”

Another FSU student, Ian Baker summarizes the issue with both pipelines and explains the danger of ignoring the Sabal Trail Pipeline much better than I can. Both Fleming and Baker are a part of the organization, Rethink Energy Florida , which anyone can participate in to make the world an environmentally cleaner place to live.

“Right here in our own backyard is the Sabal Trail Pipeline, preparing for construction, and there is not a comparable public outcry [in comparison to DAPL). This is the tenuous nature of these pipelines, and environmental degradation in general; there is currently no tangible injured party for individuals to rally behind, no one to stand with in solidarity. The victims of climate change, or failure of these pipelines is thus perceived as some unknown, intangible, future individual,” states Ian Baker.


“Sabal Trail’s construction has large environmental consequences but, if the pipeline experiences some significant incident which, even in just assessing incidents since 1996, there have been 11,208 and there is a likely chance something serious could happen with this pipeline, it would harm the surrounding area, as well as threaten our delicate aquifer system. Yet, there is no trending hashtag, or national attention devoted to this because there is no sense of urgency to the danger of Sabal Trail in the same way that we saw with the DAPL, it’s just business as usual.

“My point is not that the Sabal Trail Pipeline is more worthy or less worthy of national attention than the DAPL, but the inattention helps to make clear one of the biggest hindrances that we face with any large-scale adoption of clean energy technologies and infrastructure, there is a severe lack of immediacy ascribed to this very real threat. Fracking is dangerous and serves to primarily benefit the corporate interests who fund these harmful endeavors. Companies such as Energy Transfer Partners, have such a high disregard for human life, and such a low incentive to explore alternative forms of energy production, that they contested with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe for as long as they did, and individuals still celebrate this re-routing as a victory rather than a temporary fix for a larger problem. There is still a pipeline, in North Dakota as well as in our own state, and something needs to be done at a local, as well as a national level.”

Alexis Frankel is completing her last semester at Florida State University and has wanted to be a journalist since she was in sixth grade. She particularly loves writing about food, photographing food, and eating food in general. If she could have one superpower it would be to not cry while chopping onions.

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