Tag Archives: Politics

If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land –Dwight Davis 2024-04-23

There is one slight catch: buying the land will be very expensive. There is probably only one organization that can afford it.

Although the lawsuits likely to ensue as soon as the permits are issued may reduce the price.

Nonetheless, merely buying the land would encourage more mining permit applications. There needs to be legislation to prohibit such mines anywhere near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Also, I don’t know what questioning he is referring to.

Dwight Davis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 23, 2024, If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land,

The mining permit for Trail Ridge near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has evolved into a contentious debate. Though initially a civil discourse on ecological preservation, recent opposition has taken a harsh tone, unfairly questioning the integrity of state officials involved in the decision-making process. Amid this, crucial facts have been overlooked.

[If you can't beat the mines, buy the land --Dwight Davis, Okefenokee Swamp, GA-EPD, GA-DNR]
If you can’t beat the mines, buy the land –Dwight Davis, Okefenokee Swamp, GA-EPD, GA-DNR

Having served on the board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for 14 years, including as its past chairman, I’ve engaged with various stakeholders, including environmental groups, local elected officials and the mining company, Twin Pines, that is seeking permits to mine for minerals near the treasured Okefenokee swamp. Despite the board having no direct influence over the permit decision, we closely monitored the process.

Opponents of mining proudly claim they want to save the Okefenokee, but so does the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which is Continue reading

Valdosta sewage on Madison County Commission agenda 2024-04-24

It’s the last item, under NEW BUSINESS:

  1. Discussion Regarding Valdosta Sewage Spill and Compliance with Consent Order — Commissioner Waldrep.

That’s at the Madison County Commission Regular Meeting, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at 6:00 PM in the Courthouse Annex, 229 SW Pinckney St., Room 107, Madison, Florida.

[Valdosta sewage at Madison County Commission, Commissioner Donnie Waldrep 2024-04-24]
Valdosta sewage at Madison County Commission, Commissioner Donnie Waldrep 2024-04-24

According to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson just now, “Wastewater, Engineering and City Manager meeting is 9:15 Tuesday morning to discuss increased capacity options.”

I asked if the public is invited. He answered, “No, I will report results to you….”

Valdosta is working hard on upgrading its dilapidated sewer system infrastructure, using local taxes and a Georgia state loan. They’ve spent more than $100 million dollars already.

Valdosta was pretty timely in telling the public about its nine other recent sewage spills.

But Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper at Lowndes County Commission 2024-04-09

I thanked Lowndes County for their cooperation in the WWALS Chairman and Mayor’s Paddle, especially Public Works for grading the entrance road to Langdale Park on the Withlacoochee River.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper at Lowndes County Commission 2024-04-09, Chairman and Mayor's Paddle, Sugar Creek and Chainsaw Cleanups]
Suwannee Riverkeeper at Lowndes County Commission 2024-04-09, Chairman and Mayor’s Paddle, Sugar Creek and Chainsaw Cleanups

This was in Citizens Wishing to Be Heard in the April 9, 2024, Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission.

Earlier when I was talking to the Chairman he indicated the early takeout at Sugar Creek was a bit difficult due to a deadfall. So I mentioned that once the water gets low enough, we’ll work on that and other deadfalls, but meanwhile our chainsaws don’t work well underwater. I requested suggestions for when in March 2025 to hold the next one. I said WWALS has recently acquired a jon boat and outboard, and we’d be happy to take people out on the river, including Commissioners. Continue reading

Permit application deficiencies; water modeling, monitoring, and management, mercury, spills, slimes, Florida –WWALS to GA-EPD, TPM TiO2 mining 2024-04-09

Here are the WWALS comments sent to GA-EPD yesterday against the proposed titanium dioxide mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Thanks to all who also sent comments to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) during the 60-day comment period.

[Application deficiencies in TPM TiO2 mining permits: Modeling, mercury, spills, slimes, Florida --WWALS to GA-EPD 2024-04-09]
Application deficiencies in TPM TiO2 mining permits: Modeling, mercury, spills, slimes, Florida –WWALS to GA-EPD 2024-04-09

Next, we wait for GA-EPD to read all the comments. Supposedly they have to reply to all questions in those comments.

Most likely then GA-EPD will issue the actual permits. Then lawsuits start flying.

If I am not mistaken, you can still send comments to TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov. They won’t be considered part of the 60-day comment period, but they will go into the public record, retrievable via an open records request, and usable in lawsuits.

The WWALS Comment

See also PDF. Continue reading

Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man’s water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium 2024-03-25

Update 2024-03-27: Last days to oppose GA HB 1146, the rich private water system bill 2024-03-27.

Help stop the Georgia legislature from passing bad bills in a rush before it ends Wednesday.

[Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man's water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium]
Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man’s water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium

The former fake dragline mining moratorium that failed got pasted onto another bill, SB 132. Although you cannot even see the current text on the Georgia legislature web page, this slapped-in bill still has too many restrictions on appeals and would do nothing to stop the currently proposed mine or any other mine using different mining methods.

Here’s how to contact your Georgia Senate member:
https://wwals.net/about/elected-officials/georgia-senate/

Here’s how to contact your Georgia House member:
https://wwals.net/about/elected-officials/georgia-house/

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

HB 1172 says people can boat or fish on “navigable” rivers, but doesn’t say they can step ashore, even if they capsize. The previous poorly-fashioned bill to define navigable did not pass, so HB 1172 would also leave the possibility of streams long used for boating and fishing getting closed off by private property owners according to Georgia’s antiquated 1863 definition of navigable. Also, removing any mention of the public trust doctrine is not a good idea. Continue reading

Video: Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine –Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21

Here is the video of Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, giving the third WWALS Webinar, about the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers: why we protect it and the proposed strip mine that threatens it, as well as a recent Conservation Fund study.

[Video: Okefenokee Swamp, over proposed strip mine, Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21]
Video: Okefenokee Swamp, over proposed strip mine, Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, WWALS Webinar 2024-03-21

Here is the video:
https://youtu.be/9EjO_kNue1g?si=GvyTL3xUc2HDtwpc

This webinar was held by zoom, noon-1 PM, Thursday, March 21, 2024.

Some things mentioned in the video: Continue reading

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.
https://wwals.net/?p=64219

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.
https://wwals.net/?p=64423

[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 Continue reading

Atkinson County, GA, resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the strip mine 2024-03-14

Thanks to the Atkinson County Commissioners for passing this resolution unanimously Thursday evening. We will get a signed copy soon.

[Atkinson County Commission and Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the Twin Pines Minerals Strip Mine]
Atkinson County Commission and Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp against the Twin Pines Minerals Strip Mine

Shirley Kokidko, who lives in Pearson, the county seat, said a few words. I gave the shortest speech ever, “We could speak for half an hour. But if the Okefenokee Swamp isn’t worth protecting, what is?”

As they voted, they said things such as, “this would affect our fishing.”

A Commissioner sought me out in the parking lot afterwards to remark, “This is our heritage, our way of life.”

After Berrien County, plus the city of Nashville, this is the second county on the Alapaha River to pass such a resolution.

It is the fifth sixth such resolution in Georgia state Senate District 8, after Valdosta, Ware County and Waycross, Clinch, and Echols Counties. Maybe Senator Russ Goodman will be interested in that.

Berrien County and the city of Nashville are in Continue reading

Petition: Right to Clean Water, Florida, for 2026 ballot 2024-03-08

Hot off the Florida state authentication process!

Florida registered voters, please sign and circulate the petition for a state constitutional amendment for a right to clean and healthy waters (RTCW).

You can get it here, or from
https://www.floridarighttocleanwater.org/

Or from WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper at any festival or outing, such as Valdosta Azalea Festival today. Yes, that festival is in Georgia, but many people from Florida attend.

[Four Florida rivers (Withlacoochee, Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, Suwannee), RTCW Petition and Full Text 2024-03-08]
Four Florida rivers (Withlacoochee, Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, Suwannee), RTCW Petition and Full Text 2024-03-08

With around a million signatures, RTCW will get on the ballot for 2026. The legislature and the governor do not have to approve it. The people do, and when it gets on the ballot and an overwhelming majority vote for it, it will immediately become law. Law that can be used to tilt the playing field that is currently way over towards developers and polluters. Law like has been used successfully in Pennsylvania and Montana to deal with water pollution, fracking, and climate change.

This RTCW petition is fundamentally different from the 2014 Amendment 1, Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative. That ended up in Article X, along with many other well-meaning and good-sounding provisions in that and other Articles.

RTCW goes in Article I along with other basic rights such as religious freedom and freedom of speech. Not law like all the other well-meaning and good-sounding provisions in other articles of the constition.

Sure, the legislature can still try to pass laws to circumvent RTCW and state agencies can try not to implement it. But that will be harder with a fundamental right in Article I.

The RTCW amendment is long because it has been written by attorneys to avoid complications such as Continue reading

A 19th-century navigable definition does not work for 21st-century river economies

We never had bales of cotton boated down the Withlacoochee River, because there are too many shoals.

[19th-century navigable definition; 21st-century river economy]
19th-century navigable definition; 21st-century river economy

But we do get fishing both from the shore and in paddle and power boats up and down our rivers, and for other recreation, There are massive investments by nearby cities and counties and other organizations in cleaning up the rivers for those purposes.

The state of Georgia needs to revise its 19th-century definition of navigability and passage to match the 21st-century present.

The antique 19th-century definition

The Georgia 1863 definition says a navigable stream “is capable of transporting boats loaded with freight in the regular course of trade either for the whole or a part of the year.” See Georgia Navigability Report, 3rd Edition and O.C.G.A. 44-8-5 (2010)

Some people once tried boating down to the Suwannee to establish commerce. They sold the remains of the boat and returned to the former Lowndes County seat of Troupville, at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River. Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Continue reading