Category Archives: Law

WWALS asks GA Gov. Kemp to stop strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-11-30

Everyone please ask Georgia to stop this strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

Here is what we wrote to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and staff.

[Mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, TIAA land, TPM land]
Mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, TIAA land, TPM land

Copies will go to GA-EPD, to selected Georgia state and national elected officials, and to all statewide candidates in the Georgia runoff elections.

The Letter

See also PDF.

November 30, 2020

To: Governor Brian Kemp

Cc: Trey Kilpatrick, Chief of Staff
Caylee Noggle, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations
Bert Brantley, Deputy Chief of Staff, External Affairs

Dear Governor Kemp and staff,

Thank you again for being the first governor to visit Hahira since Jimmy Carter; it was good to speak with you there. Last year you sent a staff delegate to the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) meeting. For the second year running, the Okefenokee Swamp is on GWC’s Dirty Dozen worst threats to Georgia waters, because of a threatened mine. https://wwals.net/?p=54109

Georgia is all that stands between a titanium strip mine within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, proposed by coal miners from Alabama. Please direct the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to thoroughly examine the five state permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM). https://wwals.net/?p=54009 The evidence indicates DNR should reject those applications. At the least, an environmental review equivalent to an Environmental Impact Statement should be conducted.

Continue reading

Extended two weeks: WWALS FOIA to FERC on NFE Miami LNG export 2020-11-23

At 5:46 PM on their last day, FERC did respond to our FOIA about the NFE Miami LNG facility. But only to say FERC is self-extending its deadline another two weeks. It’s already eight weeks since our initial FOIA about that Miami facility, which FERC confused with Puerto Rico. What’s taking so long, FERC?

FERC’s excuse? “We have determined that in order to respond to your request, Commission staff must consult with other components of the agency having substantial subject-matter interest therein.”

[NFE operations, FERC needs to consult]
NFE operations, FERC needs to consult

Well, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can’t find a SHOW CAUSE ORDER to New Fortress Energy about NFE’s Miami LNG facility, apparently there is no such ORDER, because according to a law FERC cited in its latest response, any ORDERs that exist must be published electronically for everyone to see.

So what is FERC having such a hard time finding? Maybe a “PETITION FOR DECLARATORY ORDER filed by New Fortress Energy, Miami, Florida”? Maybe because none was ever filed? Or maybe records of meetings or correspondance between FERC and NFE about the Miami facility?

It’s already been eight weeks since our initial FOIA, six weeks after we sent an expanded FOIA, four weeks after FERC “accepted” that FOIA, and more than two weeks after FERC informed WWALS of that “acceptance.” Why the delaying tactics, FERC?

Here’s a timeline so far: Continue reading

Proposal for the Recharge of the Upper Floridan Aquifer –D.J. Price P.G. 2016-11-14

Dennis J. Price, P.G., sent this proposal to the committee for the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP), and that WWALS included in our comments.

They duly noted it in their matrix of comments. But, so far as I can tell, they did not follow any of its recommendations.

[Map and Proposal]
Map and Proposal

See also Dennis’s other letter on this subject.


SE ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY
DENNIS J. PRICE, P.G.
P.O. BOX 45
WHITE SPRINGS, FL 32096
cell 362-8189, den1@windstream.net
Recharge-Proposal.pdf

November 14, 2016

North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership

RE: PROPOSAL FOR THE RECHARGE OF THE UPPER FLORIDAN AQUIFER IN THE NORTH FLORIDA FLATWOODS ENVIRONMENT, HAMILTON, COLUMBIA, UNION, BAKER AND ALACHUA COUNTIES.

My proposal is directed towards those areas in the SRWMD and the SIRWMD that are underlain by the Hawthorn formation resulting in extensive areas containing a surficial aquifer and the intermediate aquifers that exist in the Hawthorn. Recharge to the Floridan is retarded by the presence of the clay layers in the Hawthorn. Very large wetland systems are common in these areas.

Water balance studies were produced twice that I am aware of in the SRWMD, one by Continue reading

Victory on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1, and more voting for clean water

Voters in every county in Georgia approved Amendment 1, to dedicate state fees and taxes to their stated purposes. The statewide victory was 81.6%.

There is more work to do, to get the legislature to use this new law to stop taxes from being diverted to the general fund, so for example counties and cities can get more grants for tire amnesties. But now the mechanism is available.

That wasn’t the only good referendum news, and there is more voting for clean water to do.

[Victory: 82%]
Victory: 82%
Special thanks to the Suwannee River Basin cities of Adel, Hahira, and Valdosta, Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties, for passing resolutions in support.
See also previous blog post.

The other good clean water news is that Amendment 2 passed with 74.5% Yes, also passing in every county. That’s HR 1023: people may petition for declaratory relief from certain acts of this state or certain local governments or officers or employees.

Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service, 4 November 2020, Georgia voters pass three ballot questions by wide margins,

The sovereign immunity amendment stems from a 2014 Georgia Supreme Court decision that essentially granted the state blanket immunity from citizen lawsuits in a case brought by the Center for a Sustainable Coast. The group had filed suit alleging the state Department of Natural Resources was illegally allowing alterations to private property in fragile coastal wetland areas protected by state law.

So that’s two victories for clean water by the people of the state of Georgia.

More voting for clean water to do

As everyone probably knows, there are Georgia runoff elections on January 5, 2021, with the usual early voting and absentee ballots. Both Georgia U.S. Senate seats are in the runoff.

A Public Service Commission runoff that was scheduled earlier will also be on January 5, 2021. WWALS has long advocated for GA-PSC to make responsible decisions on power plants and pipelines that affect all our waters, from water levels to coal ash to mercury.

Once again, we urge you to vote for clean water.

As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, WWALS cannot Continue reading

Help Georgia stop titanium mine threatening Okefenokee Swamp –Dirty Dozen 2020, Georgia Water Coalition 2020-11-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 17, 2020 — Once again, the Okefenokee Swamp features in the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen, “the worst offenses to Georgia’s water.” The Swamp and the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers and the Floridan Aquifer are still threatened by a strip mine, but this time only Georgia can stop it, with your help.

[Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site]
Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site

Contact: This Okefenokee item was submitted by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (229-242-0102, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org) and Georgia River Network Executive Director Rena Ann Peck, (404-395-6250, rena@garivers.org).

They also recently observed the mine site that threatens our ecosystems and drinking water for private profit. [TPM mine site with ONWR on left]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, TPM mine site with ONWR on left

They met again that same weekend on the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp with forty paddlers, experiencing the fragile natural beauty that makes the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge a great economic benefit to both Georgia and Florida.

[Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07

The entire text of the Okefenokee Dirty Dozen item is below. Also below is how you can help.

This year’s Dirty Dozen report includes the following: Continue reading

Letter: WWALS to FDEP and SRWMD: acquisitions, invitations, withdrawals, water quality testing 2020-11-10

Sent yesterday afternoon after the morning SRWMD board meeting.


November 10, 2020

To: Noah Valenstein
Secretary, FDEP
Noah.Valenstein@floridadep.gov

Hugh Thomas
Executive Director, SRWMD
Hugh.Thomas@srwmd.org

Sen. Keith Perry
Perry.Keith@flsenate.gov

Cc: Scott R. Koons
E.D., Rivers Task Force
koons@ncfrpc.org

Re: land acquisitions, event invitations, water withdrawals, and water quality testing

Dear Secretary Valenstein, Director Thomas, and Sen. Perry,

This morning I spoke via gotowebinar in the SRWMD Board Meeting. This letter expands on what I said.

[WWALS letter to FDEP and SRWMD]
WWALS letter to FDEP and SRWMD
PDF

I offered compliments, a suggestion, and a recommendation on the FDEP press release of yesterday: Continue reading

Accepted: WWALS FOIA to FERC on NFE Miami LNG export 2020-11-05

Update 2020-11-24: Extended two weeks: WWALS FOIA to FERC on NFE Miami LNG export 2020-11-23.

More than three weeks after we sent it, FERC acknowledged that the WWALS FOIA about the Miami LNG facility was “accepted” two weeks earlier, more than a week after we sent it.

We shall see whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has learned that Miami is not Puerto Rico. And whether FERC will follow the precedent it sent about Puerto Rico and send New Fortress Energy (NFE) a SHOW CAUSE Order for why NFE did not send a “Petition for Declaratory Orders” about the NFE Miami LNG facility. FERC has the power to shut down an LNG facility after the fact, for not following the law.

Meanwhile, FERC did not just refuse the FOIA request on its flimsy grounds of “non-jurisdiction.” See the WWALS FOIA request for more about that.

[FERC 404]
FERC 404
What you get if you follow the FOIA Public Liaison’s link to FERC’s FOIA request submission page.

Here is the “accepted” email: Continue reading

SRWMD Board immune to conflicts of interest; Lands Committee buying many parcels 2020-11-10

SRWMD Board members are immune to conflicts of interest if companies they have contracts with or are employed by companies that have cost-share agreements with the District. Such agreements include at least one dairy; I don’t know whether any SRWMD Board members are involved in that.

The Lands Committee is buying up many parcels, which is probably a good thing.

Also, apparently Charles Keith is Treasurer now, not Richard Schwab. While they still only have six of nine board members. Wasn’t a seventh one appointed by the governor?

[Conflict, Cost-Share, Land Purchases]
Conflict, Cost-Share, Land Purchases

There is nothing on the agenda about Nestlé or M-CORES, but that won’t stop anyone from talking about those things in Public Comments.

They meet 9AM Tuesday, 10 November, 2020. You can attend tomorrow morning’s meeting from anywhere. If you want to speak, you must sign up on the public comment form as well as for the webinar and the voice call-in number.

The Meeting will be conducted via GoTo Webinar for Presentations Only

GoTo Webinar Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2119912704840872974

Separate Call-In Number for Audio

Toll Free 1-888-585-9008 – Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #

Public Comment Form Link: www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/Comments

The SRWMD Board and Lands Committee packets are on the WWALS website, along with images of each page. Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida Against FDEP Assumption of Army Corps CWA 404 permitting 2020-11-02

Waterkeepers Florida, representing all fourteen Waterkeepers of Florida, wrote to U.S. EPA and FDEP yesterday objecting to FDEP’s plan to take over water permitting from the Army Corps of Engineers. FDEP hasn’t even kept up with the responsibilities it has, and is in no way prepared to take on a much heavier load. Suwannee Riverkeeper voted for this letter, which was also signed by many other organizations, including OSFR and Paddle Florida.

Please vote today for people who will support clean water.

[Opposition and Addendum Letters]
Opposition and Addendum Letters

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)’s list of waterways it plans to assume (see FDEP’s Appendix A) omits numerous navigable waterways previously listed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Checking all the Florida rivers that empty into the Gulf of Mexico, I found that most of them were included by FDEP, except not the Suwannee River or its tributaries (many creeks, Lake Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe, New, Ichetucknee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, and Withlacoochee (north) Rivers), not the Withlacoochee (south) River nor its tributaries such as the Rainbow River, and not the Ochlockonee River nor its tributaries, such as Lake Talquin. I added 30 Suwannee River Basin waterways and 24 others to the Waterkeepers Florida list of missing waterways, which is the main subject of the Addendum letter (see PDF). The Addendum also contains copies of several letters previously sent to FDEP: an opposition letter similar to the one to EPA, a request for Public Hearings, and a request that online rulemaking hearings be discontinued until the pandemic allows holding them in person.

Opposition Letter

Here is a transcription of the letter to EPA. See also the PDF.

Don’t forget to vote for clean water. Continue reading

Please vote for clean water and Yes on Georgia Amendment 1, 2020-11-03 2020-11-01

WWALS members already got our monthly Tannin Times newsletter via email. We’re posting this one, because its second page has many reasons to vote for clean water. Please vote for clean water on Election Day, if you have not already!

Georgians, don’t forget to vote Yes on Amendment 1.

[Tannin Times, WWALS monthly newsletter]
Tannin Times, WWALS monthly newsletter PDF

November 2020 Tannin Times

WWALS Biota November 2020: Remembering biota past

In both Mesoamerican indigenous cultures and European Christian traditions, late autumn is a time when the dead are remembered, as seen in the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico and All Souls Day in many other western countries. It seems fitting, then, as November comes in and autumn is felt across the coastal plain, that we consider biota past.

Continue reading