Comments: 20,338 on titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –USACE 2019-09-12

If this and the 27 news articles on radio, TV, and newspapers in Georgia and Florida, several of them carried by Associated Press across the country, plus the ten op-eds and three editorials, is not enough to establish controversy, I wonder what is. Maybe still more comments and news articles and social media?

[Public Notice: 20,338 comments]
Public Notice: 20,338 comments
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Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 September 2019, Mining proposal near Okefenokee draws more than 20K comments from public

The Suwannee Riverkeeper, on Thursday, sent 22 pages of questions to the Corps and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection asking the agency to deny the permit. The Riverkeeper joined the SELC and other organizations and individuals in asking the Corps to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, the highest level of analysis available when a proposed federal action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

Also in that AJC story:

Commenters expressed concerns ranging from the acres of wetlands that would be lost to what they considered inadequate studies conducted to determine the potential impact of the mine.

In a letter to the Corps, the Southern Environmental Law Center said Twin Pines has misrepresented the scale and severity of the project impacts throughout the applications process and most recently at a public meeting.

Controversy is one of the indicators that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed, but about that and about public hearings all yesterdays’s notice says is:

Once we reach a decision on the appropriate level of NEPA analysis and additional forums for public information and comment, we will provide notice.

You may wonder when you will get an acknowledgement that your comment was received. I asked that of Billy Birdwell, Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Corporate Comm Office at Savannah District, US Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah, Georgia. He checked and said they are working through the comments in the order they are received. So far they are up to those received September 3rd. They expect to finish acknowledgments probably some time next week.

He, like this notice, was quite clear that comments are closed. However, when asked directly whether comments received after the nominal deadline would be read by the Corps, he said he would not commit to that, but he would not say they wouldn’t.

So I recommend that if you have something new to say, or a different perspective, especially if it is a question you think nobody else might have asked, send it in anyway.

Even better, also send it as a letter to your local newspaper, publish it on your website, or post it on social media.

This isn’t over until the Corps or GA-EPD denies the permit, or at the least starts an EIS. Contact your state Senator and Representative, and your U.S. Senator and Congress member, and ask them to ask for denial or an EIS.

How to Comment

The nominal comment deadline was Thursday, September 12, 2019, but the Corps will not say it will not read comments sent in later, so you can still send in your comments, and post them on social media, as op-eds, etc.

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 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.

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, SAVANNAH DISTRICT
100 WEST OGLETHORPE AVENUE
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 31401-3604

September 12, 2019

Regulatory Branch
SAS-2018-00554

PUBLIC NOTICE
Savannah District

The Savannah District has received an application for a Department of the Army permit, pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C § 1344), as follows:

Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Applicant: Steven R. Ingle, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, 2100 Southbridge Parkway, Birmingham, Alabama 35209

The Public Comment Period for the Twin Pines project closes today. To date, we have received 20,338 comments regarding this project, including comments from the Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, and 14 Non-Governmental Organizations. Many commenters have requested an extension to the comment period. At this time, the Corps is not going to extend the public comment period. Currently we are reviewing the comments we have received and evaluating our path forward under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Once we reach a decision on the appropriate level of NEPA analysis and additional forums for public information and comment, we will provide notice. We are still awaiting the submittal of additional project studies from the applicant, including hydrology studies. Once received, we will provide notice and this information will be available through our website or through a Freedom of Information Act request.

If you have any further questions concerning this matter, please contact Ms. Holly Ross, Project Manager, Albany Field Office at 648-422-2727 or via email at holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil.

Much more is on the WWALS website here:
http://www.wwals.net/pictures/2019-07-12–tpm-usace/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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