Tag Archives: Senate

Four U.S. Senators ask U.S. FWS to assist GA-EPD against mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-04-28

“Georgia’s senators want the federal government to get involved in the state’s review of a mine proposed at the doorstep of the East Coast’s largest wildlife refuge.”, James Marshall, E&E News, 30 April 2021, Senators worry about mine project near Okefenokee.

And you can still use the Waterkeeper Alliance action alert to Help Suwannee Riverkeeper Save Okefenokee Swamp by sending a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division asking them to reject Twin Pines Minerals’ five permit applications, or at least to go through a full process to review them:
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Letter, Mine site, Senators, Signatures]
Letter, Mine site, Senators, Signatures

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock also got Senators Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and Tom Carper from Delaware to co-sign their letter of Wednesday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s good they’re doing what many of us asked all the candidates to do in the Georgia Senate race last year.

Mary Landers, Savannahnow, 29 April 2021, U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff urge scrutiny of Okefenokee mining proposal.

The economy was on Warnock’s mind last week when he released a statement about the mining near the Okefenokee.

“I am a fierce champion for strengthening rural economies, and finding ways to ensure rural Georgians don’t just survive, but thrive,” he wrote. “At the same time, the Okefenokee is integral to the local ecology and economy, and we owe it to our planet and the communities that depend on the swamp to ensure its health and integrity for future generations. As a voice for Georgians in the Senate, I look forward to working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and engaging their expertise in these on-going conversations to make sure we protect this cherished Georgia landmark as we work to bring more good-paying jobs to our rural communities.”

Well, that’s good to hear. I look forward to the local Chambers and all the organizations concerned about the Swamp finding some businesses for Charlton County and other rural south Georgia and north Florida counties.

The Letter (PDF)

Continue reading

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

Protecting our waters from a strip mine –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Valdosta Daily Times 2020-12-23

“Dear runoff candidates: What will you do to stop this proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp?”

You can also ask that question of those candidates and of the Georgia governor and other elected officials:
https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

[Dateline, Op-ed]
Dateline, Op-ed

The op-ed in the Valdosta Daily Times of December 23, 2020, was slightly shortened. Below is what I sent, including links to references.

A company from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals LLC, proposes to strip-mine for titanium dioxide for paint within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp. Twin Pines is under a Florida Consent Order for titanium mines in north Florida. Its president was a proponent of the Franklin County, Georgia, biomass plant that caused a massive fish kill. The state had to pass a law to stop it from burning railroad ties. https://wwals.net/?p=53931

The miners have promised jobs, from 150 to 300, with no specifics. And at what cost?

A sign at I-75 Exit 16 for Valdosta says: “Okefenokee Swamp… 62 Miles.” The Swamp is an internationally-known treasure that 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

Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-06: Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03.

Florida state Senator Bill Montford has scheduled “a meeting concerning the Valdosta sewage spill issue” this Wednesday afternoon, the same day and before the meeting of the Florida Counties Rivers Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. We have some questions (see below). You probably do too, and you can ask them at one or both of these Wednesday public meetings.

When: 1 PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Where: Madison County University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office
184 Northwest College Loop, Madison, FL 32340

Event: facebook

Table, Committee

I have confirmed that this Madison meeting is a public meeting. The venue is small, but that’s no reason for the public not to come.

Sen. Montford held a Continue reading

New ban fracking bill in Florida: help it pass

The fifth or sixth year could be the charm, as a fracking ban was among the first 100 bills filed in the Florida Senate. Here’s who you can call to help get this bill passed.

matrix acidization
Source: Leong, V.H. & Ben Mahmud, H. J Petrol Explor Prod Technol (2019) 9: 753. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13202-018-0496-6.

Florida S.B. 200 would ban all forms of fracking, including matrix acidization. It was introduced by Sen. Bill Montford and passed unanimously the committee he chairs, on November 4, 2019.

Two days later, an article appeared in Forbes claiming matrix acidization is not really fracking: Continue reading

Jim Tatum reports on FL Rivers Task Force meeting 2019-04-25

Thanks to Jim Tatum of OSFR for reporting from the April 25th meeting of the twelve-Florida-county Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City. His Task Force on Valdosta Spills says the Task Force is asking Florida Senator Rubio to speed permitting for Valdosta’s WWTP catch basin. It doesn’t say whether they get the point that the other third of Valdosta’s December spills would not be affected by that.

It says they’re still agonizing about direct notification of spills. Our experience with Valdosta and that of many others is that it’s not worth wasting time expecting Valdosta to notify anybody except the state of Georgia, which is why it’s so useful that GA-EPD publishes Sewage Spill Reports each business day. That’s been going on since December 20, 2018, after 30 organizations in Georgia and Florida, including OSFR, signed a resolution asking GA-EPD to do that.

Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR; Darlene Velez of SRWMD explains the water quality missions of the state agencies.
Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR; Darlene Velez of SRWMD explains the water quality missions of the state agencies.

The hot button at the moment is water quality monitoring and sampling. Thanks to OSFR’s Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and WWALS ‘ John Quarterman, it was revealed some time ago that water sampling has been less than adequate by our (and Georgia’s) agencies, lacking even a baseline for comparison in places.

Once called out, the agencies have been scrambling and Ms. Velez’ PowerPoint covered this wonderfully. Your writer did not know that Continue reading

Rivers Task Force meeting, Lake City, Florida 2019-04-25

Agenda (PDF):

AGENDA
MIDDLE AND LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER AND
WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER TASK FORCE

April 25, 2019
4:00 p.m.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard
Lake City, Florida

  1. INVOCATION
  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
  3. INTRODUCTIONS
  4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – February 28, 2019*
  5. REPORT ON ACTIVITIES
    1. Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Testimony
    2. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary and Governor’s Staff Meeting
    3. Joint Task Force and City of Valdosta City Council Workshop
  6. WATER SAMPLING SCHEDULE AND DATA
  7. NEXT STEPS

* See Attachments

Agenda, Meeting

See also:

Valdosta Sewage Spills Workshop at Florida Senate 2019-03-20

A Florida Senate Committee has scheduled a Workshop on Valdosta Sewage Spills.

Table, Committee

The same session this Wednesday afternoon will hear three water bills, SB 1100 about funding water well testing, which is relevant to the recent detection of E. coli in for example Hamilton County wells, SB 1758, which includes some changes to Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) requirements and requirements for wastewater treatment plants to notify customers of unlawful discharges, and SB 1552 about Red Tide mitigation.

Event: facebook, meetup

Florida Senator Bill Montford, District 3 When I went by Senator Bill Montford’s office last Wednesday, his staffer said they would be scheduling this workshop, with public input. They have done so. Senator Montford is the Chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. His District 3 includes Hamilton, Madison, and Taylor Counties, all of which are members of the twelve-county Florida Rivers Task Force and signatories on its Resolution asking for assistance from Florida and Georgia about Valdosta sewage spills. The Withlacoochee River, into which much of Valdosta’s raw sewage spills have gone, is the border between Madison and Hamilton Counties, and the Alapaha River, into which basin other Valdosta spills have gone, runs through Hamilton County. Taylor County is not on either of those rivers nor on the Suwannee River, yet its economy is affected by the stigma of Valdosta’s sewage spills.

The Florida Senate, COMMITTEE MEETING NOTICE,

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Senator Montford, Chair
Senator Albritton, Vice Chair

MEETING DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

TIME: 4:00—6:00 p.m.

PLACE: Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Building [404 S. Monroe, Tallahassee, FL 32399]

AMENDMENT DEADLINE: Continue reading

Senate confirmed 2 FERC nominees with no discussion 2017-08-03

The Senate took less than two minutes to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert F. Powelson as FERC Commissioners, taking it up even earlier than we suspected. The only voice heard voting was Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that had forwarded their names. It’s not clear any other Senators were even in the room; certainly none spoke up at any point. She praised the new Commissioners and added that they would “help facilitate the buildout of an aging infrastructure and the add-on of new infrastructure”, which of course means more pipeline boondoggles when the country and the world need to get on with sun and wind power.

Reading the nominations

Worse, there are not one but two more FERC nominees in the pipeline, including a proposed Chair very friendly with pipelines and fossil fuels.

CSPAN, Senate Session, August 3, 2017, Continue reading