Okefenokee webinar, resolutions, bills, Suwannee River paddle

This Thursday, join us online at noon by zoom for Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine —Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21.

This Saturday at 9AM, join us to see what we’re protecting, immediately downstream of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), Suwannee River Wilderness Paddle, Griffis Fish Camp to Fargo 2024-03-23.

[Okefenokee webinar, resolutions, bills, Suwannee River paddle]
Okefenokee webinar, resolutions, bills, Suwannee River paddle

Meanwhile, things are heating up against the proposal by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) to strip mine for titanium dioxide (TiO2) within three miles of the ONWR.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) issued draft permits on February 9. Get your comment in by April 9:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has asserted federal water rights surrounding the Okefenokee Swamp. This could put a crimp in the GA-EPD permits for TPM. See Russ Bynam, AP, March 4, 2024, Mining company can’t tap water needed for Okefenokee wildlife refuge, US says.

Fourteen cities and counties have passed resolutions supporting the Okefenokee Swamp against the strip mine, plus the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) supports HB 71, the so-called Okefenokee Protection Act. https://wwals.net/?p=57248

Only one county has passed a resolution supporting the mine. Charlton County did that expressly because of the promise of jobs. Nevermind that a company proposing to use untried techniques with the whole world watching would most likely hire experts from somewhere else.

HB 71 did not get out of the Georgia House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment, because its Chair never gave it a hearing.

Rep. John Corbett proposed HB 436, “Surface mining; revise maximum criminal penalties for violations”, which increases mining infraction penalties by a factor of ten. Last year HB 436 was passed byh the House, and this year it got out of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment, but it has not yet passed the Senate. Fines increased from $1,000 to $10,000 per day is something, but still peanuts.

Rep. Corbett also introduced HB 1338, “Georgia Surface Mining Act of 1968; three-year moratorium on acceptance of applications for new permits; provisions”. Its moratorium would not affect the TPM mine, nor would it affect any other mine application that used different mining methods. It would limit time for appeals. Fortunately, HB 1338 did not pass the House.

Five of those resolutions were passed in Rep. Corbett’s District 174: Echols, Clinch, and part of Ware Counties, as well as part of Waycross, and all of the city of Homeland. Against only the one resolution by Charlton County in favor of the mine.

According to Dick Yarbrough, today, March 19, 2024, “According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Corbett’s campaign finance disclosures show he has received $2,250 in donations from Twin Pines since October 2021 and $3,750 from the company’s president, Steve Ingle, since October 2022.”

If Rep. Corbett will not budge, maybe others will. There are three resolutions in Rep. James Burchett’s District 176, and six in Sen. Russ Goodman’s District 8, as well as two in Sen. Carden Summers’ District 13, and five in Sen. Mike Hodges’ District 3.

So, send in those comments, and keep helping persuade Georgia officials to stop the mine, including by passing more resolutions.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!