Do we truly believe that “injustice anywhere is a threat to everywhere,” regardless of how homely and plain the injustice?
News is sinking in about the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s victory over the formidable forces of capitalism (the Dakota Access Pipeline): the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently blocked the construction of the DAPL after eight contentious months of Water Protectors camped out on native tribal land protesting the plan. But now, another story of environmental injustice has arisen. This one comes out of Florida, where the Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, has plans to siphon $3 billion of money collected from Florida Power and Light (FPL) to build its own pipeline.
Set to stretch 515 miles in length if completed, the Sabal Trail Pipeline would “transport natural gas obtained via fracking from eastern Alabama to central Florida,” according to Desmog.com.
The structure would endanger communities in three states: Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
Like North Dakota, protest camps — such as one in the community of Live Oak and another in Fort Drum — have grown and swelled to challenge the decision of Sabal to see this project through without any level of regard for what will surely result in adverse effects on the Floridian residents. They’re also protesting Governor Rick Scott’s approval of the pipeline, which he did after willfully ignoring the history of “leaks” of at least one of the energy companies at the helm of the pipeline.
Of the protests, the Miami News Times writes, “One man locked himself inside a tanker truck delivering water to the work area.” Protesters say, MNT adds, that “law enforcement officers punished a crew of demonstrators and arrested 14 of them.”
Yet, unlike the protests happening in North Dakota, Florida’s pipeline scandal does not seem to be garnering much media attention.
One reason may be because, in contrast to DAPL, the Sabal pipeline would not cross sacred native ground. MNT writes,
“Unlike the Dakota Access Pipeline, however, the Sabal Trail doesn’t cut through sacred Native American land, which is perhaps why national activists haven’t paid the project the same level of attention.”
The health risks and detrimental environmental effects, however, would be no less devastating:
“The Sabal pipeline will cross the Santa Fe, Suwannee, and Withlacoochee Rivers, which contain invaluable stretches of vulnerable Florida wetlands.”
With so many present-day injustices threatening the safety, security and natural health of our world, it can be difficult for the social justice community to divide its attention and commit to expanding the parameters of its moral compass. It’s also not surprising in the least bit that the more romantic injustice of the two has managed to capture and keep the eyes of the nation.
Leaving us forced to ask, with the best of intentions, “Are we really that superficial?” Or, do we truly believe that “injustice anywhere is a threat to everywhere,” regardless of how homely and plain a particular injustice strikes our senses?
Rivers and rare wetlands, the very biodiversity we tend to appreciate on our best days, are being threatened. The health of a section of our human village is, once again, facing extermination by greedy and unfeeling capitalist companies. What could be more sacred than rallying to ensure that these resources so essential to our terrestrial experience, that make life worth living, go untouched and unharmed?
Is it too much to believe, to be swept up in the expectation that our collective investment in the protection of the sacred tribal lands of the Sioux people will set a contemporary precedent for the pattern of our participation in environmental disasters occurring across our country? Is it too much to hold precious the conviction that a singular victory against the environmental calamities consequent of the free market, in one part of America, hold the seeds for another, and that we owe it to the future of our planet and richness of our culture to extract and apply them?
I don’t think so.