Animals opposing titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-08-13-14

Update 2019-08-11: What to bring: pictures and signs (not costumes).

Come early to see the animals assembling on the sidewalk before the miners’ public meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Folkston and St. George, Georgia. Think of it as Early Okefenokee Halloween!

Alligator

You can bring an animal costume picture and help oppose the mine, also by distributing information outside and asking questions inside. There will be reporters from near and far.

Locals especially please come to the Charlton County Commission meeting Thursday, but no demonstration there, please, just listen and speak.

Meetings in August 2019

Upcoming in August 2019 are two Public Meetings by Twin Pines Minerals (these are not public hearings; no decision-making government body is involved in organizing these miners' meetings):

  • 5:30-8:30 PM, Tuesday, August 13, Auditorium, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA,
    Come early at 4PM. Bring pictures of people with animals and plants or bring a sign if you can.
    facebook event
  • 5:30-8:30 PM, Wednesday, August 14, Fire Station Number 2, 13063 Florida Avenue, St. George, GA.
    Come early at 4PM. Bring pictures of people with animals and plants or bring a sign if you can.
    facebook event

This one is a decision-making governmental body:

  • 6PM, Thursday, August 15, Charlton County Commission, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA.
    They have already drafted a resolution in support of the mine.
    Local people especially, please come say you don't want that,
    or at least ask the county to insist on an Environmental Impact Statement first.
    No demonstration outside, please; just come in, politely listen, and speak.

Suggestion from St. Mary's Earthkeepers, plus Suwannee:

Feel free to use the following “talking points” in your email:

  • The Okefenokee Swamp/National Wildlife Refuge/Wilderness is NOT a suitable location for a titanium mine. The Swamp is considered one of the "Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia", is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, and has been designated a National Natural Landmark.
  • The health of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers depends on the integrity of the Okefenokee Swamp, myriad species rely on its wellbeing, and tourism in the area is an economic boon to our region.
  • The Twin Pines mining project presents unnecessary and unacceptable risks, and I urge the Charlton County Commissioners to oppose this project unless and until a thorough Environmental Impact study shows that no harm will be done to the Swamp, its tributaries, rivers, and future. I am joined in my concern by the Georgia Conservancy, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Suwannee Riverkeeper, and over 20 other regional and national environmental organizations.

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

“We have concerns that the proposed project poses substantial risks for significant affect to the environment. Should impacts occur they may not be able to be reversed, repaired, or mitigated for."

"Titanium is a common mineral, while the Okefenokee is a very uncommon swamp."

"This will likely change its properties and the hydrology of the area."

Please email the following people and ask that your message be shared with all Commissioners.

COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR, HAMPTON RAULERSON
hraulerson@charltoncountyga.gov

County Clerk, Jennifer Nobles
jnobles@charltoncountyga.gov

Chairman James E. Everett
jevephotochristianbooks@windstream.net

How to Comment

The comment deadline was May 28, 2020, according to SAS-2018-00554 Twin Pines Minerals, Published April 13, 2020, Expiration date: 5/28/2020.

“The Savannah District will hold a virtual Public Meeting for the Twin Pines project on May 13, 2020 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT. The meeting will consist of a formal presentation followed by a question and answer session. The meeting will be recorded and published to the Savannah District public website. To allow time for the public to submit questions and RSVP to the public meeting, as well as comment on any information presented at the meeting, additional public comments will be accepted and the original public notice will remain open until May 28, 2020, 15 days after the virtual public meeting.”

However, you can write to your elected officials. And the Corps apparently actually continues to read comments after the deadline, right up until they make a decision. While you are at home because of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), you have a great opportunity to write a comment, and to You can also post your comments on social media, as op-eds, etc.

You can ask the Corps and other elected and appointed officials to deny the application, or to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider wider areas the mine may affect, especially the entire Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, and the rest of Trail Ridge in Georgia. You can ask for the EIS to include other mines relevant to this one, especially the four Chemours titanium strip mines in north Florida for which TPM, along with Chemours, is under a Florida Consent Order for a range of violations. You may want to ask for inclusion of the existing phosphate mine in Hamilton County, Florida, next to the Suwannee River, as well as the one proposed in Union and Bradford Counties, Florida, next to the New and Santa Fe Rivers, tributaries of the Suwannee. All those mines affect the Floridan Aquifer, which is the main source of water for drinking, agriculture, and industry for everyone in south Georgia and north Florida.

To comment, or to request a public hearing, you can write to
Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District,
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, 1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia, 31707,
or by email to CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil or holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil.
In your comments please refer to:
Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554.

For the requested state permit regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, you can send a comment or request for public hearing to
Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30334.

For the Georgia Coastal Management Program certification, you can send a comment to
Federal Consistency Coordinator, Ecological Services Section, Coastal Resources Division,
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, Georgia 31523-9600
Telephone 912-264-7218.

The public announcement says: “The applicant may also require assent from the State of Georgia, which may be in the form of a license, easement, lease, permit, or other appropriate instrument.”

You can write to your Georgia state representative or senator or governor or lieutenant governor and ask them to refuse any such instrument.
To find your legislator you can type in your ZIP code here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

You can also write to your U.S. Representative or Senator and ask them to urge the Corps to reject this mine or at least require an EIS, like Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05) already did.

You can also write to the Georgia DNR board, asking them to refuse any such instrument.
Georgia Board of Natural Resources
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1252, Atlanta, GA 30334

You can write to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking them to ask the state of Florida to comment.

To: Mary S. Walker, Regional Administrator, walker.mary@epa.gov
Jeaneanne Gettle, Director, Water Division, gettle.jeaneanne@epa.gov
Blake Ashbee, Chief of Staff, ashbee.blake@epa.gov,
Carol Kemker, Director, Enforcement & Compliance Assurance Division, kemker.carol@epa.gov
Region 4, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Cc: Gregory J. Strong, Director, Northeast Division, Greg.Strong@dep.state.fl.us
Noah Valenstein, Director, Noah.Valenstein@dep.state.fl.us
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
 
Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil,
CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707
 
Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Administrator Walker and Director Gettle,

Here is the pithy request sent by Waterkeepers Florida:

We request EPA to determine, according to 33 CFR § 325.2(b), whether the mining activities of the applicant may affect the quality of the waters of the state of Florida and to notify the state of Florida, the district engineer, and the applicant that Florida therefore “has 60 days from receipt of EPA's notice to determine if the proposed discharge will affect the quality of its waters so as to violate any water quality requirement in such state, to notify EPA and the district engineer in writing of its objection to permit issuance, and to request a public hearing.”

To submit a letter to the editor of the Charlton County Herald, you can email editor@charltonherald.com.
Or write to your local newspaper.
You can also contact radio, TV, and of course post on social media.

Much more about this mining application is here:
wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!