FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hahira, GA and Jasper, FL December 29, 2015 — “Who could achieve standing or win a case with these criteria?” wondered WWALS president John S. Quarterman after reading the list of exceptions filed by WWALS counsel to the judge’s Recommended Order in WWALS v. Sabal Trail & FDEP. “Now that our counsel pointed out again the criteria the judge stated in the hearing, maybe he will go back to those and recognize that WWALS more than adequately demonstrated standing,” said Chris Mericle, WWALS board member and Hamilton County resident. “Until that, it seems that big money was more important than finding the truth about harm to the environment by this proposed pipeline.” WWALS is also evaluating its options for an appeal.
The judge’s Recommended Order applied the wrong standard as to whether the pipeline is in the public interest (Exception 25), applied an incorrect standard of proof (Exception 16), ignored the additional protections due the Outstanding Florida Waters of the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers (Exception 17), and ignored evidence that the granting of a Sovereign Submerged Lands Easement would adversely affect the lands under those rivers (Exception 19), not to mention the Floridan Aquifer.
In alleging WWALS does not have standing, the judge ignored a case previously cited by FDEP (Exception 23), and added an unprecedented factor of “potential injury” that would prevent associations from ever achieving standing unless they could prove the ultimate facts of the case (Exception 14).
Did the judge really mean to imply FDEP’s and Sabal Trail’s own witnesses were not competent when they upon questioning provided testimony that FDEP failed to acquire reasonable assurances that the issuance of an environmental resource permit and easement on sovereign submerged lands would not be contrary to the “public interest” (Exception 15)? If those public servants’ testimony wasn’t competent, how can those same personnel be competent to evaluate permit applications?
These are just a few of the 25 exceptions filed Monday 28 December 2015 by WWALS Counsel William R. Wohlsifer and Leighanne C. Boone.
For the actual Recommended Order and the WWALS Exceptions, see this WWALS blog post:
WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS), a Waterkeeper® Alliance Affiliate and a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 2012, advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Upper Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. All the documents referenced are linked into this WWALS web page: http://www.wwals.net/issues/stt/
S. Quarterman, President
Christopher J. Mericle, Board Member