HPS II phosphate mine in Union and Bradford BOCC meetings

Steve Pieczenik called the Union County Commissioners brave, honest, respectful, efficient, and transparent public servants. Jim Tatum said they had foresight and had taken appropriate steps. Both complimented the many mine opponents who showed up and spoke their piece briefly and effectively. Here are a couple of reports from Union BOCC’s Monday workshop about the HPS II phosphate mine.

Aerial: From the New River across the HPS II mine site to Lake Butler
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS on Southwings flight, 17 Sep. 2017, N from New River across mine site: l. New River P. r. Beasley; left center prison; top left Lake Butler, 09:55:21, 29.9550800, -82.3183000

The next one is coming up 5PM Tuesday, January 16, 2018, at which Union BOCC is scheduled to vote on extending its moratorium against phosphate mining, as well as reviewing their proposed Comprehensive Plan changes.

Meanwhile, across the New River, Bradford BOCC also met, Thursday. December 21, 2017. They decided nothing about HPS II that time, although they surprisingly complimented “the opposition”; see Jim Tatum, OSFR, December 21, 2017, Christmas Spirit At Bradford County BOCC Meeting. But at any meeting Bradford BOCC could, and it might not be as prudent a decision.

After his compliments to the Union BOCC and to mining opponents who spoke, plus some contrasts with the Bradford BOCC, the doctor added some background. Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik, MD, PhD, Steve Pieczenik Talks, December 20, 2017, “Thank You Union County Florida!”

At no time was it disclosed that Mosaic Mine lost over $11B in Net Asset Value over the past six months. Nor was the fact that HPSII partners had been hoodwinked by the Hazen family [particularly cousin Julius] into coughing up over $2.3M up front in order to purchase over 11,000 acres of land for the intended use by Mosaic Mines. The four families: Hazen, Pritchett, Shadd and Howard were financially “cuckolded” into paying for their own incessant litigation yet that fact was never discussed.

I can’t attest to Dr. Pieczenik’s details, but there may be something to his speculations. Certainly he’s right that there is transparency lacking even in the HPS II background in Union County, and even more in Bradford County.

Because I was on my annual trip north to get the full benefit of the seasons, I could not attend, and instead I sent Union BOCC a resolution against phosphate mines signed by several waterkeepers around Florida, including both of the ones in the immediate area (Suwannee and St. Johns), plus two farther away where there are no phosphate mines, indicating widespread acknowledgement that a phosphate mine anywhere is bad for the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink.

Jim Tatum, OSFR, 19 December 2017, First Hearing On Moratorium Extension In Union County,

Photo by Jim Tatum for OSFR of Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Sierra Club speaking to Union BOCC
Photo by Jim Tatum for OSFR of Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Sierra Club speaking to Union BOCC

A large number of the public went to the podium to express their opposition to the mine. These included members of OSFR, Sierra Club, Santa Fe Lake Dwellers and many others. Some traveled from as far away as Lakeland. At least four young people, some from UF, voiced their concerns as to what they might have left for water resources if the mine is allowed.

HPS II was represented by one lawyer who spoke briefly for his client, and his was the only voice opposing the moratorium extension.

From the environmentalist viewpoint, these commissioners seem to have the situation well in hand. From the beginning it appears that they have had the foresight to assess the possibility of the mine in their county, and they have taken steps to control this threat to their way of life.

Meanwhile, Bradford BOCC had its regular meeting on Thursday, December 12, 2017.

Bradford BOCC meets again 9:30 AM Tuesday, January 2, 2018 and 6:30 PM Thursday, January 18, 2018. As we discovered back on July 20, 2017, phosphate mining can come up even if it’s not on the agenda; that time the county attorney reminded Commissioners they had to schedule a meeting to decide on hiring a contractor so there would be sufficient time for public notice. Without an agenda item, probably there will be no TV reporters, unlike at the August 2017 Bradford BOCC meeting, but that could make it easier for something unfortunate to get passed. It would be useful for the Bradford County contractor or their new proposed zoning board or the BOCC itsself to come up with a mining map better than the one currently in their Comprehensive Plan.

As Jim Tatum noted, people came from as far as Gainesville and Lakeland, Florida to the Union BOCC meeting, and as the resolution from the Florida Waterkeepers shows, people are watching from as far away as the panhandle and farther. It’s going to take that and more to stop HPS II.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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