Tag Archives: mine

Okefenokee news in the Georgia runoff elections 2020-12-29

The mine and the Swamp and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs are in the news, in the Albany Herald, the Saporta Report, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, plus my op-ed last week in the Valdosta Daily Times.

You can also contact the governor, the runoff candidates, and other elected officials:
https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

For why, see the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen.

[Mine, Swamp, River, Bird]
Mine, Swamp, River, Bird

So far, the only statement we’ve seen from any Georgia runoff candidate is in the AJC article:

Jenni Sweat, a spokeswoman for Perdue, said the office received regular updates on the Twin Pines project as they do with many other Corps projects. “This presents an economic development opportunity in rural Southeast Georgia that local officials support, and our office has monitored its status through the federal and state regulatory process,” said Sweat in a statement.

Let’s also hear from the other U.S. Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff, Kelly Loeffler, and Raphael Warnock. And let’s hear from candidates for Public Service Commission, Daniel Blackman, and Lauren Bubba McDonald. If nothing else, the miners will probably want more electric power for their mine site, so that makes it a PSC issue, too.

Albany Herald

Staff reports, Albany Herald, 29 December 2020, Environmental groups ask governor to stop mine near Okefenokee,

HAHIRA — Environmental groups, including the Suwannee Riverkeeper and the WWALS Watershed Coalition, have sent a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp asking him to stop the proposed titanium strip mine from being allowed within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia and north Florida.

The letter, which lays out evidence to support the groups’ request, states: Continue reading

Strip mine would endanger swamp 2020-05-22

In the Valdosta Daily Times today:

Signs at Exits 18 and 16 from I-75 say “Okefenokee Swamp, Stephen C. Foster State Park, 62 miles,” in hopes travellers will stay in Valdosta first.

[Okefenokee Swamp sign at I-75 exit 16.]
Okefenokee Swamp sign at I-75 exit 16.

The Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee River, a favorite paddling, birding, and fishing location of many people from here. The smoke from the 2017 West Mims Okefenokee fire reached Valdosta. Charlton County thanked Lowndes County for sending assistance.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of that fire, some miners from Alabama bought up land southeast of the Swamp. Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, AL, applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to strip mine titanium less than three miles from the Swamp.

After more than 20,000 public comments, the miners Continue reading

Comment now: TPM mine drains to Okefenokee Swamp, Rivers Styx, St. Marys, Suwannee, Georgia and Florida 2020-04-10

Comment by this Monday, April 13, 2020, if you don’t want any of these creeks, rivers, or the Okefenokee Swamp affected by this strip mine, or the Floridan Aquifer, in Georgia or in Florida.

The Twin Pines Minerals strip mine site drains west from Trail Ridge into the River Styx, into the Okefenokee Swamp, and to the St. Marys River, which becomes the border between Georgia and Florida. On the east, it drains into Boone Creek and into the St. Marys River. If it affects the Swamp, it will affect the Suwannee River, which runs through Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

[River Styx]
River Styx

Please go ahead and tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers why you don’t want this strip mine near the Swamp.

You can also ask for an extension of the public comment deadline, and for public hearings in Georgia and Florida. Here is the Suwannee Riverkeeper extension and hearings request for WWALS.

The Rule the Corps is following for comments says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can require any other affected state to comment. So you can ask EPA to ask Florida to comment. Here is our request for that. Here’s a simple version you can use:

[Your Name or Your Organization Name] requests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to 33 CFR § 325.2, (b), regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 to determine that the mining activities of the subject Application may affect the quality of the waters of the state of Florida and to notify the state of Florida, the district engineer, and the applicant that Florida ‘has 60 days from receipt of EPA’s notice to determine if the proposed discharge will affect the quality of its waters so as to violate any water quality requirement in such state, to notify EPA and the district engineer in writing of its objection to permit issuance, and to request a public hearing.’

The inset map is from Figure 66 in the TPM application. TPM didn’t label the waterways, but that’s the River Styx where it says MSW-1, and Boone Creek where it says MSW-4. Both lead to the St. Marys River, which becomes the Georgia-Florida state line. The River Styx joins the St. Marys in the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River. Continue reading

Request comment deadline extension and public hearings about titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Army Corps 2020-03-19

We urge everyone else to also send the Army Corps a comment letter asking for an extension of the comment deadline and for public hearings.

For more things you can do to oppose this bad mining application, see How to Comment.

[Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River]
Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River
in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.
The TPM mine is marked in the right center by the highlighted crossed hammers,
due north of the line of four Chemours titanium mines in north Florida.

Below is the text of the letter WWALS just sent to the Corps as a PDF.

March 19, 2020

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil,
CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, Alabama, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to extend the public comment period and to hold public hearings, as detailed at the end of this letter.

Review of the current 219-page Application and the hundreds of pages of appendices is not practicable in Continue reading

Reject or EIS: Twin Pines Minerals mine near Okefenokee –U.S. Rep. Al Lawson 2020-02-13

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Jr, Twitter, 2PM, 14 February 2020, @RepAlLawsonJr,

I sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s plan to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. These actions could have detrimental effects on the area’s biodiversity and natural resources.

[U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE]
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE


AL LAWSON
5TH DISTRICT, FLORIDA
ASSISTANT MAJORITY WHIP
COMMITTEE ON
FINANCIAL SERVICES
COMMITTEE ON
AGRICULTURE

Congress of the United States
 
House of Representatives
 
Washington, DC 20515-0905

February 13, 2020

Col. Daniel Hibner
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District
100 W. Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31401

Dear Hearing Officer:

I am writing to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s application for a clean water (CWA) permit to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Osceola National Forest, and Osceola Wildlife Management Area. I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carefully consider the significant environmental, social, and economic costs that could occur if the permit is granted. It is crucial that the Corps require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Furthermore, the Corps should reject the permit application if it appears the mine will harm the environment.

Trail Ridge and Okefenokee NWR

If approved, the project would destroy portions of Trail Ridge, which acts as Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida passes resolution against titanium mine application near Okefenokee Swamp

Waterkeepers Florida asks the Army Corps to require Twin Pines Minerals to supply all the information missing from its application for a titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to hold Public Hearings, including in Florida, and “to answer how the Corps has or will determine that the Applicant’s proposed mine would not adversely affect the Okefenokee Swamp, the St. Marys River, the Suwannee River, the Floridan Aquifer, or the State of Florida.”

You can also still comment to the Army Corps.

[TPM Equipment closeup, Wayne Morgan]
TPM Equipment closeup Photo: Wayne Morgan for Suwannee Riverkeeper on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

Continue reading

A Bill of Rights for Nature

Update 2021-01-22: Orange County, Florida (home of Orlando) passed a Bill of Rights for Nature, becoming the most populous local government area in the U.S. to do so; see below.

Does it seem most of the agencies, laws, and rules are rigged for big corporations and against local private property rights, against local fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting, and against organizations like Riverkeepers and Waterkeepers?

[Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, titanium mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River Basin]
Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, titanium mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River Basin.
See also WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

One approach to change that is a Bill of Rights for Nature (BOR), to change the legal structure so rivers, swamps, aquifers, lakes, etc. presumptively have rights that corporations have to prove they are not violating. There are at least three ways to do this: personhood for a waterbody, a Bill of Rights for Nature spelling out specific rights such as to exist and to flow unpolluted, or human rights to clean air and water, commonly known as a Green Amendment.

Examples

First, here are some examples of why rights of nature would be useful.

Example: a titanium strip mine proposed too near the Okefenokee Swamp

For example, Suwannee Riverkeeper is helping oppose a company that wants to mine titanium within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which all of south Georgia and north Florida drinks.

[Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100]
Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

We shouldn’t have to get more than 20,000 60,000 comments sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pointing out that the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge contributes far more jobs (700+) and other economic benefits (more than $60 million/year) to the region and to Florida and Georgia than even the wildest promises of the miners (150-200 as in the application? 300? 350, as they told some reporters?), and the mine would risk all that, including boating, fishing, and birding in the Swamp and hunting around it. We should be able to point to the rights of the Swamp, Rivers, and Aquifer, and the miners should have to prove beyond a shadow a doubt that they would not violate them.

Update 2021-01-22: And then the Army Corps abdicated oversight in late 2020, leaving only the State of Georgia standing between the miners and Swamp with their five permit applications to the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection.

[Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds]
Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds, photographs by Southwings pilot Chris Carmel on a flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, 2021-01-10.

You can help, by asking the Georgia Governor and other elected and appointed officials to reject or at least thoroughly review those permit applications.

Example: the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline

When the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly refused to grant easements for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline to drill under Georgia rivers, Continue reading

Nutrien (PCS) mining phosphate and water in Hamilton County and soon in Columbia County? 2018-07-11

Thanks to Jim Tatum of OSFR for spotting this op-ed in the Lake City Reporter yesterday by WWALS member and Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price of Hamilton County, Florida about Nutrien (PCS) mining phosphate and water in Hamilton County and likely planning to expand to Columbia County.

Dennis Price explains, Down to a sunless sea
Photo by John S. Quarterman of Dennis J. Price at the Dead River of the Alapaha River, 2018-01-27.

To the Editor:

Much has been written in the last year about Sam Oosterhoudt’s mitigation bank. I was involved in permitting the bank through the Army Corps (ACOE) and The Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. It took about 5 years to get all the permits. Now, 9 years after work began on the project, the phosphate company (then PCS now Nutrien) petitioned the state to shut down the mitigation bank.

I do not know for sure, but, Nutrien may tell you that during the recent sale of PCS and the review of mineral interests owned, they discovered that the mitigation bank had snuck in there and set up shop over their minerals. This probably has some truth to it but I think there is a much more involved reason.

In Hamilton County, Nurtrien/PCS is planning to run out of phosphate to mine in about 10 years, give or take a few years either way. I do not believe they are planning on shutting the doors and leaving. Occidental Chemical Company started mining in Hamilton County Continue reading

Phosphate Mine on Bradford BOCC agenda this morning 2018-05-07

The HPS II proponents don’t want to pay for consultant work on future effects of their phosphate mine. Why should the county (the taxpayers) be stuck with all or part of $53,265.00 to consultants about a for-profit mine that would adversely affect the waters on which the whole county depends, not to mention downstream on the New, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers and perhaps beyond in the Floridan Aquifer? Mine proponents also complained that one subconsultant had “articulated a position of opposition to the HPS application”. If the consultants were uniformly in favor of the mine, what would be the point of hiring them at all?

Map: HPS II Mine Site, Packet
A map as clear as mining mud. Legend: Union Project Boundary (5,421.91 Acres); Bradford Project Boundary (5,262.92 Acres)

I sent Chairman Ross Chandler the the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida by several Waterkeepers across Florida.

Cost

In the agenda sheet for agenda item 4.B. Direction to staff regarding scope-of-work/subconsultants for Onsite Environmental Consultants (OEC) — Review of application for Special Permit for Mining (Section 14.6, LDR): Continue reading

Springsheds and Water Withdrawal Permits in the Suwannee River Basin

This figure for Florida water withdrawal permits in the Suwannee River springsheds shows by far the largest blue dots for the biggest withdrawal permits in Hamilton County at the location of the PCS Phosphate mine.

Fig. 4: Principal springsheds (red lines) + consumptive use permits (dots sized by withdrawal rate), Florida portion of Suwannee River springshed.

Fig. 4: Principal springsheds (red lines) + consumptive use permits (dots sized by withdrawal rate), Florida portion of Suwannee River springshed.

Thanks to Continue reading