Tag Archives: Law

Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26

I watched it so you don’t have to, Monday’s meeting of the Georgia Natural Resources & Environment Environmental Quality Subcommittee.

The subcommittee is meeting again at 1PM today, February 28, 2024, with HB 1397 as the only thing on the agenda, and Rep. John Corbett again chairing.

See also the input I sent the legislators yesterday, Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 2024-02-27.

This is not a transcript. Except where I use quotation marks, it is a paraphrase of what I found to be the important points of the Monday subcommittee meeting.

[Rep. James Burchett, Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26]
Rep. James Burchett, Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. James Burchett (District 176, Waycross) said he was concerned about people boating on oxbows and creeks onto private property, so the bill definitely did not include tributaries as navigable. He worries that currently the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR) is in a difficult position of having to decide matters of law.

Burchett said that he constructed the list Continue reading

Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 2024-02-27

Update 2024-02-28: Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26.

Sent this morning.

[Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 --WWALS 2024-02-27]
Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 –WWALS 2024-02-27

February 27, 2024

To: Cc:

Rep. James Burchett (176), james.burchett@house.ga.gov

Rep. John Lahood (175), john.lahood@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Dexter Sharper (177), dexter.sharper@house.ga.gov,

Rep. John Corbett (174), john.corbett@house.ga.gov ,

Rep. Chas Cannon (172), chas.cannon@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Penny Houston (170), penny.houston@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Darlene Taylor (173), darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Clay Pirkle (169), clay.pirkle@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Leesa Hagan (156), leesa.hagan@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Bill Yearta (152), bill.yearta@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Noel Williams (148), noel.williams@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Patty Bentley (150), patty.bentley@house.ga.gov

Re: Navigable stream additions to HB 1397

Rep. Burchett,

You are invited to the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle on the Withlacoochee River just west of Valdosta, this Saturday, March 2, 2024. Continue reading

All WWALS water trails navigable according to GA HB 1397 2024-02-22

Update 2024-02-27: Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 2024-02-27.

Update 2024-02-25: Need to add Sugar Creek, as well as Cat Creek and Franks Creek.

Following up on the December 2023 report of the Fishing Rights Study Committee, that Committee’s Chair, Rep. Burchett of Waycross, who is also the House Majority Whip, this Thursday introduced HB 1397, which defines navigable streams in Georgia.

[Warrior Creek, Okapilco Creek, Deep Creek, Bird Wing Run]
Warrior Creek, Okapilco Creek, Deep Creek, Bird Wing Run

The bill’s list appears to include all of Georgia parts of the WWALS water trails, plus some creeks and an upstream reach of the Alapaha River.

However, the entire Alapahoochee River is missing, https://wwals.net/maps/alapaha-water-trail/arwt-map/arwt-points/#ga-376-bridge, as is the East Fork of the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp. The North Fork of the Suwannee River is missing, but it’s so overgrown that’s not surprising.

Considering the inclusion of Okapilco Creek, the bill needs to add Sugar Creek below Baytree Road, which is a nice urban creek with a beach and shoals, https://wwals.net/?p=56221 with the WaterGoat trash trap, https://wwals.net/?p=63876 and will be used this coming Saturday, March 2, as the early takeout for the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle. https://wwals.net/?p=64095

Similarly, the bill could add add Cat Creek below GA 37 and Franks Creek below GA 122. That would help with finding and fixing E. coli problems seen at bridges on those creeks. WWALS has already started investigating those creek problems and has applied for a testing grant. https://wwals.net/?p=58982

These are the bill’s items in the Suwannee River Basin. If I’ve missed any, somebody let me know. Continue reading

Okefenokee bills, Georgia legislature 2024-02-21

As crossover day approaches in the Georgia legislature, events are moving faster about the proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

In addition to a mining prohibition bill that has been in the legislature since last year, now there is a fine, draft permits, and two new bills, for increased criminal penalties, and for a mining moratorium (with a big catch).

None of these are likely to stop this specific “demonstration” mine, but some of them could prevent any further such mines.

Crossover day is the day by which a bill has to have been passed by one house to get into the other house. It’s February 29 this year, Thursday of next week.

[Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge: 15 miles]
Okefenokee NationaGl Wildlife Refuge: 15 miles
Map courtesy Prof. Can Denizman and students, Valdosta State University.

Draft Permits

As previously mentioned, On February 9, 2024, GA-EPD published draft permits (surface mining, water withdrawal, and air quality). for the applications by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) to strip mine for titanium dioxide (TiO2) within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, between Moniac and St. George, Georgia. You have until April 9 to comment, and there is a public online meeting on March 5.

Details here:

Consent Orders

Back in January, I was told by a former state legislator that these miners be very careful to avoid infractions, because they had a lot of money riding on their venture. A week later, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) issued a Consent Order on TPM, saying back in 2018 the miners had drilled soil samples without a professional geologist or engineer supervising, as required by state law, and they also failed to provide a letter of credit or a performance bond. TPM “voluntarily” agreed to pay a tiny fine of $20,000. For more details, see Russ Bynum, AP, 24 January 2024, Company seeking to mine near Okefenokee will pay $20,000 to settle environmental violation claims.

This is not the first time TPM has been under a Consent Order. Continue reading

GA-EPD issues draft permit for TiO2 strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp 2024-02-09

Update 2024-02-21: Okefenokee bills, Georgia legislature 2024-02-21.

Updated 2024-02-12: Today GA-EPD updated its Public Notice to day 60 days (instead of 30 days) for the public comment period. So that appears to mean the revised final comment date is April 9, 2024.

Four years after the original application, and two weeks after publishing the miners’ revised mining plan, GA-EPD has published a draft permit for the strip mine for titanium dioxide too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

You have 30 60 days from today, February 9, 2024 to comment to GA-EPD:

There will be an online zoom public meeting at 6PM on March 5, 2024.

You can encourage the Georgia legislature to pass legislation to prevent more such mines:

And it’s a safe bet that if GA-EPD approves the final permits, lawsuits will fly.

[TPM Saunders Mine Site Layout and WWALS Aerial]
TPM Saunders Mine Site Layout and WWALS Aerial from January 10, 2021

Two weeks ago GA-EPD published the Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) Revised MLUP and Associated Documents.

Today, GA-EPD published Continue reading

Berrien County, GA, Okefenokee resolution against the proposed strip mine

Thanks to the Berrien County Board of Commissioners for passing a resolution supporting the Okefenokee Swamp and opposing the strip mine for titanium dioxide proposed by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC.

Please contact your Georgia statehouse members and ask them to protect the Okefenokee Swamp:

Ask your Georgia state Senator to sponsor a bill in the Senate:

Floridians, please ask your Georgia friends and relatives to do this.

[Berrien County Resolution No: 24-002 2024-02-06]
Berrien County Resolution No: 24-002 2024-02-06

See also the other resolutions so far.

More about this issue:

The Berrien County Resolution

See also PDF. Continue reading

Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River, and Okefenokee Swamp on Scott James radio talk921.com 2024-02-02

We also talked about the future Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, in addition to defending the Okefenokee Swamp from a proposed stripmine, chainsaw cleanups, and the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, which will go around the river frontage of the pending Troupville Park.

This was Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman on the Scott James radio talk show on talk921.com, Friday, February 3, 2024. I referred to him as Mayor, because Scott James Matheson is also the Mayor of Valdosta, Georgia.

We also prominently mentioned Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter.

And Helen Tapp, from whom the county in December 2022 bought the 71 acres from Helen Tapp down to the Little River Confluence to add to the 44 acres already owned by Parks and Rec to combine for the proposed park.

[Mayor and Chairman's Paddle, Withlacoochee River, Okefenokee Swamp, and Troupville River Camp and Nature Park on Scott James radio talk921.com 2024-02-03]
Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River, Okefenokee Swamp, and Troupville River Camp and Nature Park on Scott James radio talk921.com 2024-02-03

Here is a WWALS video playlist:
https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKwQ5xfKf-QwydpvXE-C4BTMUQqv4yfCg&si=CLMEdlCi8TM3d_Q6 Continue reading

Huge win against LNG: feds require climate analysis; what about Florida? 2024-01-24

The president’s decision on Calcasieu Pass LNG (CP2) in Louisiana is a huge win, comparable to the Keystone XL pipeline decision a decade ago. But what does it mean for Florida?

According to the New York Times:

Whatever new criteria is used to evaluate CP2 would be expected to be applied to the other 16 proposed natural gas terminals that are awaiting approval.

“This move would amount to a functional ban on new LNG export permits,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

The catch is that there are already LNG export operations in Florida and Georgia.

Plus Florida is a few hundred miles closer than Louisiana to Puerto Rico, which is one of the usual first destinations of LNG, and closer to most of the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.

And some of the financiers of Louisiana LNG projects are involved in existing or potential projects in Florida.

[Calcasieu Pass LNG in google maps]
Calcasieu Pass LNG in google maps

Here are excerpts from the NYTimes story. Coral Davenport, New York Times, January 24, 2024, White House Said to Delay Decision on Enormous Natural Gas Export Terminal: Before deciding whether to approve it, the Energy Department will analyze the climate impacts of CP2, one of 17 proposed LNG export terminals., Continue reading

More about the Valdosta Knob Hill or Williamsburg Drive sewage spill 2024-01-10

Update 2024-01-26: Five clean rivers and a clean creek 2024-01-25.

I discovered a can of worms when I took a few pictures to illustrate the 100,000-gallon Knob Hill Road or Williamsburg Drive, Valdosta sewage spill of 10-12 January 2024.

The actual location is not quite where I was told by Valdosta Utilities. But I cut them a lot of slack for that, because they were working on getting it stopped, not precisely determining ownership of the affected properties.

[Spill site behind 215 Knob Hill Road, VALORGIS, VLPRA, Lowndes County Tax Assessors, Pebblewood Drive detention pond, Three Mile Branch]
Spill site behind 215 Knob Hill Road, VALORGIS, VLPRA, Lowndes County Tax Assessors, Pebblewood Drive detention pond, Three Mile Branch

More importantly, according to Valdosta Utilities Acting Director Jason Barnes, the cause was not as first thought a collapsed sewer main. When Utilities examined the pipes, they found rocks and some sort of lid in them.

And according to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson yesterday, they also found other materials that never should have been in a sewer pipe. I will leave it to the City of Valdosta to reveal in their own time exactly what they found.

From the descriptions I heard, those things could not have gotten in there accidentally, and they could not have been washed into the sewer main by stormwater.

The basic point seems clear: this ten-times-major spill was not caused by failing old sewer infrastructure. It was caused by somebody putting things into the sewer pipes that never should have been there. Vandalism is one of the more polite words for that.

Plus the Mayor is making the City of Valdosta an offer of a location for a WaterGoat trash trap.

So I went Continue reading

Help stop FL SB 738, the environmental lawsuit penalty bill 2024-01-29

It’s hard enough to bring an environmental lawsuit in Florida already.

If these bills pass, it would be much harder.

Please ask your Florida state legislators to vote no on SB 738 and HB 789, “Providing that the prevailing party in certain actions against the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district is entitled to reasonable costs and attorney fees”.

[Bad Bill Alert: No loser pays winners legal fees; Tell legislators Vote No on SB 738 and HB 739]
Bad Bill Alert: No loser pays winners legal fees; Tell legislators Vote No on SB 738 and HB 739

Here’s a handy form by Waterkeepers Florida for contacting your Florida statehouse members:

 -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!