Fighting an Energy Empire
Have you ever stopped to wonder what goes on behind the scenes when you do something as simple as flip the light switch on? We are so accustomed to having what we need at our fingertips, that we take our utilities for granted. Many have the mentality “it’s always been there, and it always will be”. They assume they just pay the utility bills monthly, and viola, they have electricity and fresh water. Unfortunately, that is far from true. The reality is, there are people fighting daily for us to have the luxury of fresh water available, and for a cleaner, more sustainable energy source for our future and that of upcoming generations. The fight isn’t an easy one. It’s against one of the greatest evils of all time, the massive “Energy Empire”. It’s a steep uphill battle, but progress is being made slowly, a little at a time by people who care enough to fight for basic human needs, progress and change.
Panagioti Tsolkas of Alachua County, known by many as a professional protester has dedicated his life to fighting for those basic amenities we take for granted, he coined the term “Energy Empire” in his interview with the Gainesville Sun when describing who our battle for clean water and sustainable energy is really with. The Energy Empire he refers to are the big oil companies and electric companies making money in an industry that is responsible for an outdated, and pollutant laden energy source.
The perfect example of the “Energy Empire” is Spectra Energy and its $3.2 billion Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline project. As stated on is website, Spectra Energy secured a bid to construct the “Sabal Trail, a 515 mile pipeline originating in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, extending through Georgia, and ending at the Central Florida Hub near Orlando. The natural gas supply will be accessed at Transco’s Station 85 in Choctaw County, Alabama” ….“The issues of concern included potential impacts on forested lands, water resources including groundwater and springs, karst terrain, environmental justice, and compressor station noise,” said Craig Cano, a FERC spokesman. “All of these issues were addressed during the staff’s environmental review and summarized in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).”
Why, you might ask, would a company invest billions of dollars in the construction of such a project when it has been associated with the aforementioned Environmental Impact Statement? Don’t they care about the safety of the humans in the generalized area, and the assessed risk factor it might have in the surrounding environment? The answer is simply, no, they don’t. The Energy Empire is driven by money and greed. They have no intention of caring for our Earth, only how deep they can fill their pockets. It is up to us to take matters into our own hands, and speak with our actions by making demands for clean water and sustainable energy, and to fight for those rights.
Panagioti Tsolkas is doing his part, and encouraging others to follow. While traveling from Gainesville to the construction sites of the Sabal Trail, he has actively demonstrating, protesting, and teaching others how far they to can legally use their First Amendment rights. Tsolkas has played an huge role in gathering hundreds of protesters to demonstrate and protest in front of roughly 70 police officers. The goal is to bring awareness to the construction of this hazardous project, and to eliminate the creation of it altogether. He, like many others, believes energy should come alternative sources such as solar and wind. They literally have zero residual by-products or toxins associated with them. They are both endless sources, with maximum results. Panagioti states in an interview with Andrew Caplan, “If you’re about (alternative sources of energy), you got to face off against the people who are trying to continue that old system.” The Energy Empire. Panagioti continues to state, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission simply “rubber stamps” pipeline projects no matter the issues..… its studies fall short by not exploring alternative methods for energy”.
Panagioti Tsolkas makes fighting for clean water, air and energy a daily priority, and it must be that way for changes to be made. As we burn through our current energy sources of fossil fuels and natural gasses, leaving behind a trail of pollution, toxins and the demand for continual digging, drilling, and destroying of our resources, one must start to wonder, “how long can this go on?”
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Written by Angela Christu