On Monday, July 20 Town Manager Bruce St. Denis asked Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for help in protecting white sand resources from a proposed natural-gas pipeline route north of Anna Maria.
St. Denis took advantage of a standing-room-only public forum held at Dan P. McClure Auditorium, in Sarasota, to express his concern that the pipeline, proposed by Port Dolphin LLC, affects white sand sources for future beach renourishments.
“The concern we have is that the final environmental impact statement has been issued, and it states the sand impact in the area is minor,” St. Denis said.
Port Dolphin, St. Denis said, says that a town-permitted sand site has 615,000 acres of beach-quality sand to work with, which is enough for about seven to 18 future town beach projects.
“But our beach engineer has data which shows that only 20,000 acres of sand are left in that permitted site,” St. Denis said.
St. Denis said having “incorrect data” on the environmental impact statement makes it look like the town has years of beach-quality sand left and doesn’t need sand that’s underneath the proposed pipeline.
“We know these figures are wrong, and we ask you to look into it before the 45-day window begins in which the project can be approved,” St. Denis said.
LaHood promised to look into the matter, and Buchanan confirmed the concern.
“The quality of sand we need for our beaches is very important,” Buchanan said. “It’s a big issue and we are trying to work out a compromise.”
The United States Coast Guard will hold a public hearing for Port Dolphin’s proposed natural gas pipeline proposal from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at the Manatee Convention Center, One Haben Blvd., Palmetto. The public hearing follows an informational open house for the pipeline project that will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
After the public hearing, state officials have 45 days to either accept or reject the proposed natural-gas pipeline that would connect to Port Manatee north of Anna Maria Island.
St. Denis plans to comment again at the public hearing next week.
Also at Monday’s public forum, LaHood and Buchanan fielded questions from local area officials about how Port Manatee could receive federal stimulus money, area road projects and other transportation issues.
LaHood told those in attendance that transportation dollars from the stimulus plan can be the stimulus for opportunities to create jobs in this region.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at email@example.com.
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