Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s positive answer to Suwannee Riverkeeper’s question about the Okefenokee Swamp was covered by the local newspaper of record.

[VDT, Ossoff, Warnock]
VDT, Ossoff, Warnock

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.

Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 6 May 2021, Ossoff: Millions for S.Ga. schools,

During Ossoff’s visit, Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman asked about the proposed heavy mineral sands mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge is the largest east of the Mississippi and carries a hefty amount of wildlife biodiversity. The mine could potentially impact the refuge’s native species, basin hydrology and overall integrity.


An environmental review process was attempted but has since been encumbered because of a change in interpretation of the Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction, according to a U.S. Senate letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s principal deputy director, Martha Williams.

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

Ossoff said he and fellow Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock have already asked the USFWS to “engage and support” the Environmental Protection Division’s permit review of the mine.

“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 and swamp,” Ossoff said.

For video of the Okefenokee discussion, the letter from the Senators to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), plus an earlier letter from FWS to the Army Corps, plus my specific request for the Senator as Chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) to investigate irregularities in the Army Corps’ abdication of oversight, see the previous WWALS blog post, Senator Jon Ossoff: Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource 2021-05-06.

Most of the VDT story is about funds for local schools, both K-12 and Valdosta State University.

[Warnock, Ossoff]
Warnock, Ossoff

Plus Valdosta’s new public transit system:

Ossoff also received the chance to ride Valdosta On-Demand, which he called “truly impressive” as he rode in one of its vehicles on the way to a local press conference.”

Mayor Scott James Matheson announced last week at On-Demand’s debut that Ossoff’s office held high remarks for Valdosta’s transportation initiative.

He said Ossoff’s office acknowledged Valdosta as the first community in the country to have its entire public transit based around an on-demand service.

Matheson, District 2 City Councilwoman Sandra Tooley and City Manager Mark Barber said they were ecstatic to show it off to him during his visit. Ossoff said he was ecstatic to take the ride.

“This is the kind of imaginative, creative leadership to provide the people of Valdosta to make such a valuable public service — this new transit service,” he said. “It’s flexible, it’s already raising the quality of life and standard of living for folks here in Valdosta.”

Ossoff said it was an eye-opening ride, too, as On-Demand is a sort of generational infrastructure investment in clean energy.

It’s one of many he saw on his way down to Valdosta this week, such as the Q Cells facility in Dalton.

“Georgia hosts the largest solar manufacturing plant in the Western Hemisphere,” he said. “We then went to an electric vehicle battery production facility in Commerce — this is technology of the future.”

WWALS has always promoted solar power, and batteries.

More topics are covered in the VDT story.

[Warnoff, black farmers]
Warnoff, black farmers

Georgia U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock did not visit Valdosta, but he did visit cities not too far away, and met with black farmers, which the VDT covered in a separate story as a topic of much local interest. WWALS is very interested in that topic, because better farming would produce less erosion and less manure runoff into rivers, plus a historical reason.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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