Work is at a stand still on a controversial North Dakota pipeline, after President Obama ordered construction be suspended, at least for now. Saturday, dozens gathered to protest the project right here in Tampa Bay. They're also increasingly worried about a similar project planned for our region.
With loud chants, and a few shows of support, nearly a hundred people waved bright yellow signs along Fowler Avenue in Temple Terrace for hours Saturday afternoon. Their goal was to draw attention to their concerns over potential environmental damage from a controversial project known as the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL. It's a project that's drawn intense fire for disturbing Native American lands in North Dakota, prompting President Obama this week to order construction stop.
"Hopefully now that the president is reacting to our cries, he can really make a positive impact for our future and prevent this from happening," said protestor Megan Weeks.
And while the Dakota Access Pipeline begins more than two thousand miles from Tampa, those protesting are equally concerned about a similar project set to take shape in our back yard. Work on the Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline is already underway in Georgia. And that line will eventually cut right through the heart of Florida, potentially passing into Polk and Citrus Counties.
"This is a problem we're seeing all over the country--absolute disregard for people's homes, people's livelihoods, their healthy and safety," said protestor CJ Harris.
Protestors worry pipelines pose a risk to one of our most important resource: water.
"We need to understand that water and the environment comes first, above any profit that could be made--profit that any way at the end of the day, is only going to a few," said protestor Ruth Beltran.
Those backing the projects insist pipelines support thousands of jobs and are one of the safest ways to deliver energy resources. Developers of the Sabal Trail also say Florida's water and aquifers won't be impacted by the pipeline. Those gathered Saturday are simply hoping their message will bring awareness to what's happening and encourage everyone o learn more.
Some of those rallying Saturday Will head to North Dakota to join protestors there next week. You can learn more at http://sacredstonecamp.org/.
You can also read up more on the planned Sabal Trail Pipeline here: http://sabaltrailtransmission.com/