The St. Johns Riverkeeper will host a rally to protest Georgia-Pacific’s controversial proposed North Florida pipeline and “demand a more comprehensive analysis of this critical issue” on Thurs., June 9, at the Jacksonville offices of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Let’s show Governor Rick Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection, and Georgia-Pacific that we will not allow a short-sighted political decision to jeopardize the health and future of our St. Johns River,” reads a Facebook invitation for the event.
The St. Johns Riverkeeper has vocally opposed the pipeline that will reroute much of Georgia-Pacific’s waste from its Palatka paper mill into the St. Johns River. During dry spells, Rice Creek (home to the Georgia-Pacific mill) is made up of 95 percent paper company effluent, and a pipeline would arguably help the company meet environmental standards there. But the St. Johns River already suffers from nutrient poisoning and has seen algal blooms, fish kills, and dolphin deaths — before factoring in the additional Georgia-Pacific waste. Environmentalists argue that the rationale for the pipeline — that the river will dilute Georgia-Pacific’s — will do little more than cause additional problems for the ailing St. Johns.
A Brown & Caldwell study conducted for Georgia-Pacific (at the request of a state judge) found that the pipeline wouldn’t be harmful to the St. Johns River. But a separate study, conducted for the Riverkeeper by engineering firm Hayes-Bosworth, blasted the rationale for the pipeline, saying that the Brown & Caldwell study was “replete with extraneous, irrelevant contradictory data and information.”
From an email detailing Thursday’s protest:
Help us show Secretary Vinyard and Governor Scott how much the St. Johns River means to its owners. Let them know that we refuse to stand idly by and allow a short-sighted political decision to jeopardize the health and future of our river.
Governor Scott still has not responded to the letter that we sent to him on February 16th, accompanying 1300+ petitions signed by concerned citizens opposed to the GP pipeline.
Secretary Vinyard cancelled a meeting scheduled with us over three weeks ago. He has since made no attempt to reschedule the meeting, despite the urgency of this issue and significance of our concerns.
According to the Riverkeeper’s email, the Department of Environmental Protection’s silence “may be an indication that Secretary Vinyard, Governor Scott, and the DEP staff have simply made up their minds and are getting ready to issue the wastewater discharge permit to GP.”