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North Florida construction to begin on $3.2 billion pipeline

Matt Layer and Robbie Barkley examine a wetland near Albany, Ga. only yards from a proposed Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline pipeline. (AP photo by Todd Stone)
Matt Layer and Robbie Barkley examine a wetland near Albany, Ga. only yards from a proposed Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline pipeline. (AP photo by Todd Stone)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Construction of a new $3.2-billion natural gas pipeline that will travel through three Southeastern states could begin within a week after the project received its final approvals from federal energy regulators.

The Gainesville Sun reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday approved the start of construction on a piece of the 516-mile Sabal Trail project in north Florida.

The project will carry natural gas from Alabama, through Georgia, into Florida.

Environmental groups have opposed it over concerns about its effects on wetlands, springs and sinkholes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday finalized permits allowing the discharge of dredged and fill materials into wetlands and other water bodies during construction.

About 25 properties in Florida and 135 more in the Southeast, were hit by eminent-domain federal lawsuits filed in March by the pipeline, but judges have now issued preliminary injunctions handing most of the properties over to the pipeline.

The project is a joint effort by Spectra Energy, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light.