Senator Jon Ossoff: Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource 2021-05-06

Update 2021-05-09: Coverage in the local newspaper of record, Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09.

“The Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource. It is a wildlife refuge that must be protected,” said U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, responding to a question by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, today, in Valdosta, Georgia.

You can use the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert, to send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asking it to reject the permit applications for that site; such messages will be forwarded to Georgia elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock.

[Valdosta on demand, City Hall, Senator Jon Ossoff on Okefenokee, Valdosta Mayor, Council, Staff, Sen. Ossoff]
Valdosta on demand, City Hall, Senator Jon Ossoff on Okefenokee, Valdosta Mayor, Council, Staff, Sen. Ossoff

Here is the WWALS video:


Hi, I’m John Quarterman, the Suwannee Riverkeeper.

I’d like to thank you for the letter you sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service asking them to help the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (sorry about a dirty topic) about a proposed strip mine next to the Okefenokee Swamp.

[Letter, Mine site, Senators, Signatures]
Letter, Mine site, Senators, Signatures

And I understand you’re the Chair of a Senate Investigatory Committee. Now here’s something you might consider looking into. Last fall, as you know, the Army Corps decided there were no Waters of the U.S. next to that mine site.

Well, I don’t know if they took into account the letter Fish and Wildlife Service sent to your predecessor, which pointed out that if they continue mining on their property, they’ll end up a half mile from the Refuge, and 400 feet from the Okefenokee Swamp.

[Any additional mining that occurs within the 12,000-acre permit area would be closer to the refuge.]
Any additional mining that occurs within the 12,000-acre permit area would be closer to the refuge.

How can there be no Waters of the U.S.?

[Site Locations & Topographic Map]
Site Locations & Topographic Map: Twin Pines Minerals’ own map of their Alternative 2, which is 400 feet from the Swamp.

There are other issues related to that, which I can relay to you or to your staff. Perhaps you might want to think about looking into that.

[Sen. Ossoff: Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource]
Sen. Ossoff: Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource

Sen. Ossoff: Thank you so much for the question and the comment. Senator Warnock and I, as you observed, sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging them to work with the state of Georgia to evaluate the environmental impact on the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge of proposed mining projects in the area.

The Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource. It is a wildlife refuge that must protected. And we will be monitoring closely this process, and urging federal participation in this process, to ensure that proposed commercial developments don’t damage the Refuge or the Swamp.

I will follow up with the Senator’s staff.

Thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, Council, and staff for their hospitality at this event, which was primarily about the new small-vehicle public transportation service, Valdosta on demand.

[Movie: Ride Anywhere, Valdosta City Hall (7.0M)]
Valdosta on demand

I will post more about that later.

[Valdosta Council, Mayor, staff, Sen. Ossoff]
Valdosta Council, Mayor, staff, Sen. Ossoff

Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI)

Sen. Ossoff is the Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), within the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. PSI appears to have ample authority to investigate whether the Army Corps followed its own rules or law.

PSI says about itself:

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is the Committee’s chief investigative subcommittee and has the responsibility of studying and investigating the efficiency and economy of operations relating to all branches of the government. The Subcommittee is also tasked with studying and investigating the compliance or noncompliance with rules, regulations and laws, investigating all aspects of crime and lawlessness within the United States which have an impact upon or affect the national health, welfare and safety, including syndicated crime, investment fraud schemes, commodity and security fraud, computer fraud, and the use of offshore banking and corporate facilities to carry out criminal objectives.

PSI’s Historical Background says:

A. Subcommittee Jurisdiction

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was originally authorized by Senate Resolution 189 on January 28, 1948. At its creation in 1948, the Subcommittee was part of the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments. The Subcommittee’s records and broad investigative jurisdiction over government operations and national security issues, however, actually antedate its creation, since it was given custody of the jurisdiction of the former Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (the so-called “War Investigating Committee” or “Truman Committee”), chaired by Senator Harry S. Truman during the Second World War and charged with exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in the war effort and war profiteering. Today, the Subcommittee is part of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Sen. Ossoff’s press release upon appointment as Chair:

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) is now Chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Homeland Security Chairman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) announced today.

Founded in 1941, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has uniquely broad powers and jurisdiction, including the power of subpoena, to investigate crime and corruption within or without the U.S. government and to probe any aspect of U.S. government policy and operations.

At 34 and as the Subcommittee’s 12th Chairman, Ossoff is its youngest ever. Former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn chaired the Subcommittee from 1979-1980 and 1987-1994.

The Subcommittee was first led by Sen. Harry Truman, who investigated war profiteering from 1941-1948.

In 1957, under Chief Counsel Robert F. Kennedy, the Subcommittee investigated labor racketeering.

In 1963, the Subcommittee’s famous Valachi hearings exposed the Sicilian Mafia.

More recent investigations have included corporate abuses and financial crimes, international terrorism, domestic and transnational organized crime, war crimes, Enron, SARS preparedness, domestic surveillance, WMD proliferation, the security of U.S. energy supply, the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and the Iranian nuclear program.

Ossoff has a professional background in investigative journalism. After joining the Senate, Ossoff stepped down as CEO of Insight TWI, a 30-year old investigative media production company he led since 2013.

Under Ossoff’s eight years of leadership, the company produced internationally broadcast journalistic investigations of organized crime, official corruption, ISIS atrocities, war crimes committed by peacekeeping troops, corporate abuses, and human trafficking.

“As a former investigative journalist, Senator Ossoff is uniquely qualified to chair this prestigious subcommittee, which is instrumental to holding our nation’s most powerful entities accountable for wrongdoing,” said Senator Gary Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “I look forward to working with him to shed a light on fraud, financial crimes, and other kinds of malpractice whether they take place in the public or private sector.”

“This Subcommittee will pursue the truth, inform the public, and hold power to account,” said Senator Ossoff. “I look forward to working with Ranking Member Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and my Subcommittee colleagues to serve the American public.”


Jon Ossoff is the Senior United States Senator from the state of Georgia. Elected in 2021, he serves on the powerful Senate Judiciary, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Banking, and Rules Committees. He also serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Whether Sen. Ossoff uses his subcommittee or not, it’s good to know both Georgia U.S. Senators are on the case for protecting the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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