Tag Archives: St Marys River

Twin Pines Minerals sues Army Corps about oversight of strip mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2022-06-27

Well, that did not take long. Only three weeks after an Assistant Secretary of the Army told the Army Corps it had to resume oversight of the proposed titanium-dioxide strip mine site too near the Okefenokee Swamp, the miners have sued the Corps. They still want to strip mine for white paint materials within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, an economic engine for southeast Georgia and northeast Florida, and an irreplaceable refuge for numerous land, water, and bird species. That Swamp is the headwaters of the St Marys and Suwannee Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink in south Georgia and north Florida, including for agriculture and industry. There must be better sources of jobs for Charlton County, Georgia.

[Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2022-02-12]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2020-02-12, 30.52081, -82.1261

Mary Landers, The Current, June 27, 2022, Mining company sues Army Corps over project near Okefenokee: Twin Pines claims agency erred in overturning decision and seeking Muscogee Nation’s input.

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers last week, claiming the federal agency erred when it bowed to “stakeholder pressure” earlier this month and made it harder for the company to get permits to mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

…In its filing, Twin Pines maintains “The Twin Pines Approved Jurisdictional Determinations were issued in compliance with all laws, regulations, and policies — including the tribal consultation policy — in effect when they were issued.”

More specifically, the company contends Continue reading

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff advocates for protection of the Okefenokee Swamp 2022-05-25

Like Sen. Ossoff, you can help stop a strip mine proposed far too near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, and the mine sits on top of the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink.

Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp, Kyra Purvis, WFXL, Wednesday, May 25th 2022,

[Sen. Ossoff at the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-05-14]
Sen. Ossoff at the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-05-14

Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp and its national wildlife refuge.

The swamp is currently being looked at by Twin Pines Minerals LLC as a place for titanium mining.

Ossoff is asking for a joint effort between both parties and is calling on all environmental agencies to protect one of Georgia’s most precious natural resources.

“Our state may lose the Okefenokee swamp, this precious natural resource, unless EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the Army Corps and Georgia’s environmental protection division take action to stop it,” said Ossoff in his call to action, “Overwhelmingly the people of Georgia and of the local community treasure the Okefenokee swamp. But I’m sounding the alarm because we need an all hands-on deck effort now to bring the pressure to bear necessary to save the Okefenokee swamp from destruction.”

Ossoff says he has Continue reading

Support Georgia HB 1289 to protect the Okefenokee Swamp 2022-02-24

Please ask Georgia legislators to pass HB 1289 against mining near the Okefenokee Swamp. Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, an Alabama-based company operated by people with a history of misrepresentation and pollution, is proposing a mining operation that threatens the Okefenokee Swamp and tourism-related jobs in the area, as well as the Floridan Aquifer and the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers.

[Otter, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07. Photo: Gretchen Quarterman]
Otter, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07. Photo: Gretchen Quarterman

Floridians, you can do these things, too. The Swamp is upstream from Florida, both aboveground and through the Floridan Aquifer. You can call these Georgia legislators using the numbers in here: House and Senate.

For what’s in the bill and some other ways you can stop such mines, see Continue reading

Georgia Okefenokee protection bill HB 1289 filed on Okefenokee Swamp Day 2022-02-08

On newly-proclaimed Okefenokee Swamp Day, a bipartisan bill to ban mining on Trail Ridge by the Okefenokee Swamp appeared in the Georgia legislature: HB 1289.

[Bill, Proclamation, Trail Ridge]
Bill, Proclamation, Trail Ridge

What You Can Do

You can ask Georgia Governor Kemp to get the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) to deny the permit request from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, for a titanium dioxide strip mine within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers. Or ask your city or county government to pass a resolution supporting the Swamp and opposing the mine, as half a dozen have already done.

Or write directly to GA-EPD: TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov

Or use this convenient Georgia Water Coalition action alert form to ask your statehouse delegation to pass HB 1289 and to ask GA-EPD to deny the permits.

Why

Continue reading

GA Suwannee-Satilla RWPC Meeting 2022-03-09

Water gaps and water quality: the Georgia Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council meets 10-15 AM to 2 PM, Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at Coastal Pines Technical College, 1701 Carswell Ave, Waycross, GA 31503. There is an online method of attendance, unfortunately via Microsoft Teams.

Unlike Florida’s Suwannee River Water Management District, SSRWPC has no paid staff, no budget to speak of, and no taxing, permitting, or fining ability. Its Council is all volunteers, assisted by a few staff from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and sometimes a consultant or two.

[Region, Public Notice]
Region, Public Notice

SUWANNEE-SATILLA

REGIONAL WATER PLANNING COUNCIL MEETING

Announcement Date: February 2, 2022

TO ALL INTERESTED PERSONS AND PARTIES:

The Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council

will hold a meeting at the following date, time and location:

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Registration: 10:15 A.M. – 10:30 A.M.

Meeting: 10:30 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.

Note: This Meeting may be attended In-Person (with Social Distancing Measures in place) or Virtually via the MS Teams Link with Call-In Information Provided Below

Coastal Pines Technical College
1701 Carswell Ave
Waycross, GA 31503

If you are planning to attend the meeting in-person please send your RSVP notice to woodsh@cdmsmith.com so we can ensure we do not exceed the venue capacity.

For Virtual Attendance use this link: Continue reading

More than 40 scientists oppose strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-11-30

Dozens of scientists across the U.S. have written a letter spelling out dangers of strip mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.

They couldn’t cover everything, but they found scientific evidence running from habitat loss, fire risk, and lowering the Floridan Aquifer, to dark skies, tourism, and economy, including: “Mining will impact the water quality of the Okefenokee Swamp and downstream rivers, including the St Mary’s and Suwannee Rivers, through release of stored chemicals, including toxic heavy metals.”

You can mention the scientists’ letter when you ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to deny the miners’ permit applications.

[Heavy Mineral Mining In The Atlantic Coastal Plain-0006]
The mine site is labeled Saunders Tract in the middle of this map. See Figure 5.

The situation is no different from when DuPont tried to mine next to the Swamp twenty years ago. As Gordon Jackson points out in The Brunswick News (December 9, 2021), “The argument two decades ago and today is there has never been a comprehensive study to show how much of an impact, if any, disturbing the layered soil would have on the refuge.”

Naturally, the miners disagreed, according to Emily Jones for WABE (December 1, 2021): Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling on underground water could affect proposed titanium strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp

Here’s yet another reason you can cite when you ask the Georgia Enviromental Protection Division (GA-EPD) to stop the mining proposal by Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) to strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, above the Floridan Aquifer.

David Pendered, Saporta Report, January 3, 2022 5:13 pm, Okefenokee Swamp mining proposal could be affected by Supreme Court ruling,

The proposal to mine sand near the Okefenokee Swamp could be affected by a groundbreaking ruling on water rights issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

For the first time, justices have determined the same laws that apply to water flowing above ground apply to water in multi-state underground aquifers.

“This court has never before held that an interstate aquifer is subject to equitable apportionment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a unanimous opinion issued Nov. 22, 2021. This doctrine “aims to produce a fair allocation of a shared water resource between two or more States,” according to the ruling.

The ruling sets a legal foundation to manage future disputes over the usage of interstate groundwater. This issue is expected to arise more frequently as drought and climate change poise to alter the United States’ traditional water supplies and challenge agreements among governments to share water.

This ruling could be brought into play at the proposed mine near the Okefenokee, in part because of the amount of water to be extracted for mining operations from the four-state Floridan Aquifer. For that to happen, a party that has standing to file a lawsuit would have to do so on behalf of one or more of the four states that are above the Floridan Aquifer — Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Two of these states have previously litigated Georgia’s use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. The Supreme Court ruled against Florida’s claim in April.

Continue reading

More questions about strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp –GA-EPD to miners 2021-09-10

GA-EPD last Friday sent another request for clarifications to the miners about their proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Meanwhile, you can ask GA-EPD to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter]
Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter

Most of the new questions are about how bentonite clay will be used. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has actually been asking about that since December 5, 2019.

A question GA-EPD did not ask is what if the clay gets into waterways with fish? Bentonite in small particles can get into the gills of fish and suffocate them, and bentonite can also deplete oxygen: see Identification of Oxygen-Depleting Components in MX-80 Bentonite, Torbjörn Carlsson and Arto Muurine, Cambridge University Press, 01 February 2011.

GA-EPD also asked about water draining into the Floridan Aquifer or into rivers, or water moving in the other direction.

Exhibit I Modeling the GW Flow System Comments James L. Kennedy Ph.D., P.G.

Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals supplied more documents to GA-EPD about mining near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-06-25

The miners finally responded to GA-EPD’s questions from April about more information for the five permit applications to strip mine titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Checking today with Georgia Environmental Protection Division Deputy Director John Eunice, it will probably take several weeks for EPD’s Mining group to review the documents. If EPD finds documents or information still missing, they may ask Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, for more. When at some point EPD finds enough information to call it a complete application, they will announce a Public Hearing with a public comment period.

You can go ahead and ask GA-EPD to reject the permit applications, or at least thoroughly evaluate them:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

The miners’ recent documents contain plenty of reasons to reject the permits, including they say themselves they didn’t answer all the questions, and they keep sending maps including land owned by TIAA as part of their mine site after TIAA rejected that many months ago.

[Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps]
Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps

I’d say the miners themselves said their responses were incomplete in items 5 and 6 on page 12 of their Response to Comments: Continue reading

Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s positive answer to Suwannee Riverkeeper’s question about the Okefenokee Swamp was covered by the local newspaper of record.

[VDT, Ossoff, Warnock]
VDT, Ossoff, Warnock

You can use the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert to send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asking it to reject the permit applications for that site; such messages will be forwarded to Georgia elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 6 May 2021, Ossoff: Millions for S.Ga. schools,

During Ossoff’s visit, Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman asked about the proposed heavy mineral sands mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge is the largest east of the Mississippi and carries a hefty amount of wildlife biodiversity. The mine could potentially impact the refuge’s native species, basin hydrology and overall integrity.

Continue reading