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Sable Trail - Suwannee Commissioners say gas pipeline needed

By John S. Koch
Independent News Correspondent

LIVE OAK- Efforts to have the Suwannee County Commission take a proactive stance against the proposed Sable Trails Natural Gas Pipeline appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
Leading the efforts to stop the transmission line is Live Oak resident Debra Johnson and for the past several commission meetings has asked the commission to take a position and begin to address the concerns of the public. Johnson said other communities have taken action to stop the pipeline to include ordinances that forbid them as well as evidence the lines are dangerous and a hazard to public safety.

The commission chairman noted that they have a copy of the resolution passed recently by the Hamilton County Commission addressing the issue as well as all the information about the Sable Trails Project released by the company handling the project. However, the board has taken no action one way or the other.
Phil Oxendine has a problem with the pipeline but not for safety concerns but rather political reasons. “We are overseas right now and that reason is because of our need for oil and the sooner we get away from that use the better we all will be.” Oxendine also feels it is not in the best interest of the country to export the gas but that is an entirely different issue he said.

Commissioners Wesley Wainwright, Ricky Gamble and Clyde Flemming had little or nothing to say about the issue because they feel there is little that can be done or should be done at this time.

Wainwright supports the project because he feels the gas is needed and can be used regionally as well as nationally. Gamble sees the project as necessary to continue the economic growth the country is now experiencing as well as a drain on the budget to fight the issue.

Commissioner Jason Bashaw summed up the situation by saying, “It does not matter what local ordinances or regulations are approved concerning this project because once the federal government decides where the pipeline will go that’s where it will go and that will be that.” Those against the project say they will continue to lobby the commission to take action as well as conduct a public education program about the dangers of this pipeline and the possible consequences that may come about because of it.