In case anybody has not heard this bad news: the Army Corps has reverted to its abdication of oversight of the proposed mine sight, throwing the permitting hot potato back to GA-EPD.
Further bad news in Twin Pines’ own press release is that former EPD director Harold Reheis is now advising Twin Pines.
Please continue to ask Georgia officals to stop this strip mine far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers.
And there’s an election going on. Ask each candidate their position on protecting the Okefenokee Swamp, and vote accordingly.
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION DIVISION
Twin Pine Minerals, LLC
Second Permitting Update
On June 3, 2022, Georgia Environmental Protection Division learned of a directive by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA/CW) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) affecting the proposed Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (Twin Pines) heavy minerals sands demonstration mine in Charlton County, Georgia (Demonstration Mine). At that time, the ASA/CW had concluded that requisite tribal consultation had not occurred before the Corps issued its October 15, 2020 and March 24, 2021 Approved Jurisdictional Determinations (AJDs). Those two AJDs had concluded that the Demonstration Mine did not have an impact on federally regulated wetlands. Accordingly, withdrawal of those AJDs may have had an impact on the shape, form, and structure of the proposed Demonstration Mine and may have necessitated federal permitting.
Following that decision by the ASA/CW, Twin Pines filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al, Civil Action No. CV 5:22-cv-00036 (Lawsuit). On August 22, 2022, EPD learned that the parties had settled the Lawsuit, and that the Corps had withdrawn its letter rescinding the AJDs.
As described in EPD’s June 7, 2022 Twin Pines Minerals, LLC Permitting Update, where federally-issued permits and EPD-issued permits are both required for a project, EPD does not complete its evaluation of state permit applications until the related federal approvals have been issued. See https://epd.georgia.gov/twin-pines. EPD further stated that it was deferring action on all applications pending before it for the Demonstration Mine until either any required 404 permit was issued by the Corps, the Corps determined that a new AJD is no longer needed, or the Corps determined that a 404 permit is not required. With the settlement of the Lawsuit and the withdrawal by the Corps of the rescission of the AJDs, the Corps has determined that a new AJD is no longer needed and that a 404 permit is not required.
Because the 2020 and 2021 AJDs are now in effect, EPD will resume reviewing the state permit applications for the proposed Demonstration Mine. In doing so, EPD will follow the multi-step process outlined in its Twin Pines Minerals, LLC Permitting Fact Sheet posted on February 8, 2021 at https://epd.georgia.gov/twin-pines. This includes EPD’s review of the environmental provisions addendum for the Demonstration Mine described in the Fact Sheet.
All updates from EPD on the proposed Demonstration Mine project will continue to be posted on https://epd.georgia.gov/twin-pines.
August 23, 2022
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®