Tag Archives: St Marys River

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:
https://wwals.net/?p=64142

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

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

Emily Floore, St. Marys Riverkeeper, will give 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.

This webinar will be by zoom, noon-1 PM, Thursday, March 21, 2024.

[Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine --Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar]
Okefenokee Swamp over proposed strip mine –Emily Floore, WWALS Webinar

“WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper continue our work to protect the Okefenokee Swamp, 85% of which is in the Suwannee River Basin. We conduct outings for direct exposure, we have gotten city council and county commission resolutions passed, and we talk to Georgia state legislators, while expanding the issue into Florida. But the mine site is in the St. Marys River watershed. So I am very pleased that, since she’s been St. Marys Riverkeeper, Emily Floore has taken a strong position and action to support the Swamp and to oppose the mine,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Register in advance with zoom for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrdOmtqzkpGt3UGEP7SDw6JJaAVAPt9d30 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:
twinpines.comment@dnr.ga.gov

There will be an online zoom public meeting at 6PM on March 5, 2024.
https://gaepd.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ff7nrdELQPOr0DaPwfxK3A

You can encourage the Georgia legislature to pass legislation to prevent more such mines:
https://www.gawater.org/okefenokee-swamp

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:
https://www.gawater.org/okefenokee-swamp

Ask your Georgia state Senator to sponsor a bill in the Senate:
https://wwals.net/about/elected-officials/georgia-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:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining

The Berrien County Resolution

See also PDF. Continue reading

Chant for the Okefenokee –Jane Ross Fallon 2024-01-04

As Jane Fallon sings,

There is no right way
To do the wrong thing.

[Movie: Chant for the Okefenokee --Jane Ross Fallon (8.5M)]
Movie: Chant for the Okefenokee –Jane Ross Fallon

You can help stop a strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp for titanium dioxide for white paint:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining

Georgians, ask your statehouse delegation to pass HB 71 to stop further such mines on Trail Ridge east of the Swamp.
https://protectgeorgia.org/okefenokee/#/366/

Floridians, ask your friends and relatives in Georgia to do this, and ask the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to deny the permits for this single point source of pollution upstream of Florida.

Jane Ross Fallon wrote, “I recently won the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. The contest video of my performance did not turn out, and it was suggested I film one myself. John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, sent me a banner to use. So I made a video with my cell in my house. I didn’t think the sonic quality of the phone was adequate, so I recorded the song on my computer, overdubbing the video. Never done that before. Then I decided, it’s not about me, it’s about the song and its purpose. So I made a more elaborate presentation. Let me know if it works.😏”

Lyrics

Here is Jane’s video of her Chant for the Okefenokee.
https://youtu.be/UQx9eEWbEcI Continue reading

Georgia Conservationists meet in Waycross to protect the Okefenokee from mining 2023-11-10

“Beyond Trail Ridge, cities and counties in the Suwannee River Basin value the Okefenokee Swamp and the Suwannee River, and are passing resolutions supporting the Okefenokee Swamp and legislation protecting it, including the City of Valdosta and Clinch and Echols Counties,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Douglas Now, November 10, 2023, GEORGIA CONSERVATIONISTS MEET IN WAYCROSS TO PROTECT THE OKEFENOKEE FROM MINING,

The Georgia Water Coalition hosted its Fall Member meeting in Waycross November 8—10, 2023. Conservationists from around the state learned more about the Okefenokee and how to protect it from risky mining operations.

Attendees toured the Okefenokee Swamp Park, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the St. Marys River. During the member meeting at South Georgia State College, Georgia Water Coalition members learned about how mining proposals along Trail Ridge threaten the Okefenokee.

[Boats and inside]
Mike Worley, CEO, Georgia Wildlife Federation welcomes Georgia Water Coalition members at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, and inside Okefenokee NWR Manager Michael Lusk, Alice Keys of One Hundred Miles, St. Marys Riverkeeper Emily Floore, Local resident Charlene McIntosh Carter of Okefenokee Pastimes Cabins and Campground, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. Photo: Southwings.

“The Okefenokee touches everyone that touches its dark waters,” Continue reading

DeKalb County, GA, resolution requesting protection for the Okefenokee Swamp 2023-10-24

Congratulations to DeKalb County for passing a resolution supporting the Okefenokee Swamp.

You can encourage your city council or county commission to pass such a resolutin. Local government resolutions help encourage state legislatures to pass bills.

And you can still ask GA-EPD to reject the permit applications for that strip mine for titanium dioxide for white paint.
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

You can help save the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers.

[DeKalb County Okefenokee Resolution 2023-10-24]
DeKalb County Okefenokee Resolution 2023-10-24
PDF

Thanks to all those who got it done. I would name them, but I’m not sure who they all were. Continue reading

Okefenokee Swamp, one of the world’s most beautiful places –National Geographic 2013-06-01

National Geographic lists the Okefenokee Swamp among “The World’s most beautiful places, 100 Unforgettable Destinations,” along with the Everglades, the Amazon River, Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks, the Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China.

[Okefenokee Swamp among the 100 Most Beautiful Places, National Geographic 2013-06]
Okefenokee Swamp among the 100 Most Beautiful Places, National Geographic 2013-06

Seems like that should help the UNESCO World Heritage Site bid for the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR). Many of those 100 places are already UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

ONWR Manager Michael Lusk explained the Refuge, and then held up that copy of National Geographic. Continue reading

Echols County Okefenokee Resolution 2023-08-03

Update 2023-08-10: Chainsaw cleanup, Outings, Boat Ramps, Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper @ Clinch County Commission 2023-08-07.

Thanks to the Echols County Commission for passing this resolution last Thursday, August 3, 2023.

[Suwannee River and Agenda, Echols County Commission 2023-08-03]
Suwannee River and Agenda, Echols County Commission 2023-08-03

And thanks to the Echols County citizens who asked the Commission to do that.


A Resolution for the Okefenokee Swamp and against the Twin Pines Minerals strip mine

Continue reading

Another reason to reject TiO2 strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp: food coloring health issues 2023-06-02

If white paint wasn’t a bad enough reason for a strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp, how about food coloring linked to serious health issues?

“Research shows the chemical [titanium dioxide] is likely a neurotoxin and immunotoxin, and can damage the reproductive system, cause birth defects and damage genes.”

[Skittles, TiO2 dragline]
Skittles, TiO2 dragline

Remember: Twin Pines Minerals is proposing to mine titanium dioxide, not titanium metal. And the Okefenokee Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, exchanging surface water with groundwater down to the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink in south Georgia and north Florida.

For ways you can object to the permits for that strip mine, currently before the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD), or to support a bill that would prevent it expanding, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

Tom Perkins, The Guardian, June 2, 2023, Health advocates urge US regulators to ban common food coloring additive: Titanium dioxide, found in candy, meat substitutes and packaged cookies, has been linked to a range of serious health issues,

Public health advocates say a common color enhancer added to thousands of US foods is toxic and dangerous, and have formally petitioned federal regulators to ban the chemical’s use.

Though the compound, titanium dioxide, has been widely used for decades and is found in foods like M&Ms, Skittles, Beyond Meat plant-based chicken tenders and Chips Ahoy! cookies, recent science has shown it is also linked to a range of serious health issues and accumulates in the body and organs.

Continue reading