3PR News: DCA Leader Resigns

The DCA takes part in the phosphate mining process – reviewing all county comp plan amendment proposals and allowing the public their opportunity to comment….

Community Affairs Secretary: There Goes the Scapegoat
http://www.theledger.com/article/20101209/EDIT01/12095006/1036?p=all&tc=pgall
Published: Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
( page all of 2 )
They won’t have Tom Pelham to kick around anymore. The respected secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs has resigned.
It is Florida’s loss, because Pelham has not only been an environmental and growth-management visionary, he has proved to be an adept-and-willing compromiser over the years, especially with the state’s insatiable growth-and-development machine.
It is clear Pelham had no future under incoming Gov. Rick Scott — and maybe would not have had one even if Scott hadn’t been elected, given the Legislature’s disdain for the DCA and Pelham. Nonetheless, Scott was elected and during the election the governor-elect branded the DCA a “jobs killer” for its role in monitoring compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act.
It was a bogus charge, of course, aimed solely at trying to provide the teetering development sector with someone to blame for its greed and lack of restraint. There is very little evidence to suggest that overregulation has slowed down Florida’s growth machine.
The DCA has stopped, or scaled down, some developments that city and county governments approved. While that was happening, hundreds of thousands of new homes and retail spaces were created. It’s the economy — not The DCA — that left them empty.
CLASS ACT TO THE END
To his credit, Pelham has not been shy about defending his department against relentless criticism from Scott and other politicians. In fact, Pelham has been an activist DCA secretary, getting personally involved in those cases he thought were important to Florida’s long-term growth management. In September 2007, Pelham came to Lakeland to hear the concerns of citizens about CSX Transportation’s plan to run more — and longer — freight trains through downtown. He always conducted himself with class and conviction.
Even in the end.
“I think it’s extraordinarily unfair … to give us the responsibility to enforce the laws written by the Legislature and then point the finger of blame at us when we do what we’re charged under the law to do,” Pelham said recently. “It’s very discouraging to public servants, who are given a mission and responsibility to enforce laws enacted by others, to be constantly bashed for doing their job.”
Pelham will leave behind a department under siege. Lawmakers have relentlessly chipped away at Florida’s landmark Growth Management Act. And it is likely that the DCA will be abolished outright, all but ending Florida’s three-decade-long attempt to more wisely manage land use and development.
What will the politicians do for a scapegoat after Pelham and the DCA are gone

Phosphate mining moves forward

As President of 3PR I would like to respond to this email (below) from Frank Kirkland which I consider a cynical misrepresentation of the position that the environmental plaintiffs have taken in the law suit and mediation process.

I feel confident that the partial settlement that we negotiated with Mosaic allowing their workers a 4-month reprieve and preserving two bayhead wetlands from extinction in the very branch that runs through Frank Kirkland’s property was a beneficial deal. Frank Kirkland himself said at the last 3PR meeting that those two bayheads were the only remaining source of baseflow to the branch. Now they shall become part of a permanent conservation easement. The easement will also buffer the McClellan’s property from mining.

These are “substantive” benefits – something that cannot be gained from an EIS. If the middle court’s decision to impose a preliminary injunction on the S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension is overturned on appeal, then, at the very least, we have saved two bayheads from mining. If the appeals court upholds the injunction then Mosaic will have to return to the negotiating table and sacrifice more wetlands in order to continue mining.

Yes, the environmental plaintiffs have continued to meet with a Mosaic representative to continue to explore the possibilities for further partial settlement agreements in the event that the preliminary injunction is upheld. There have been two such meetings (at Appleby’s) and as a result of them we have obtained some written information in response to questions we have asked about Mosaic’s mining operations, reclamation standards and timing, hydrology, conservation easements, water recycling, and gyp stacks. We will continue to meet with Mosaic as long as we consider the information they share to be useful for our purposes.

“Why go to court if you are going to go behind closed doors and work up deals with the industry…? ” I think I’ve explained that… because court decisions are subject to appeal and can be overturned. Mediation is a process by which you can use the leverage that you have at least temporarily gained to obtain some enduring results. And, by the way, the mediations were carried out by telephone conference calls – not “closed doors” – and were recommended by our legal council, Mr. Huber, whose experience and advice we trust.

The S. Fort Meade Mine Extension preliminary injunction doesn’t mean that we’ve snuffed out the phosphate mining industry forever. It means the environmental plaintiffs have a brief window of opportunity during which we have gained the upper hand in the court system and can use that momentum to our advantage if we are willing to participate in the mediation process. Although the mediation process isn’t mandatory it was proposed by Judge Adams prior to his decision to order the preliminary injunction. At that point Mosaic refused to mediate because they were confident, I suppose, that the court would decide in their favor. I’m sure they were bitterly disappointed. From the beginning the environmental plaintiffs, however, did agree to mediate. It was only after the preliminary injunction and Mosaic was at a disadvantage that they saw mediation as a useful option. In mediation both sides are willing to gamble knowing that they are going to have to sacrifice a long term objective for an immediate gain.

The Mosaic strategy has been to lay off their workers in response to the preliminary injunction on the S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension, thereby attempting to turn public sentiment against the environmental community and the court. Our willingness to exchange wetland protections for jobs disarmed that strategy and secured wetland protections that directly benefit Frank Kirkland and others.

Unfortunately the delight Frank Kirkland derives from deriding his own leadership outweigh his ability to apprehend the good that we have done.

Dennis Mader
Pres. 3PR

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 10:27 PM, frank kirkland wrote:
The forward motion of phosphate mining is guaranteed by the people wasting time, money and court uses.

It seems that fear corruption reaches every corner where people are given any authority or power, crippling the chances for anything good
coming about.

We have watched helplessly as local and state authorities work the back room scams and plots that support the Industry and squash the people in their tracks with the medias who profit highly from the phosphate industry ads as do politicians.

this scenario I see reaches even deep in the environmental world as groups are formed and grow its leaders soon become as corrupt as government agents, going green is the motto, if you can’t make it honestly do it how ever you can “Just seek Money and or Power”

I now learn that we have people in high places playing what I consider illegal rolls in our mist (the very people supposedly fighting for us in the court system), these people are becoming the same as most politicians and Lawyers they are making close relations with the enemy, which include under cover negotiations between Mosaic officials and the plaintiffs, these people may have good intentions but in reality the have no place trading away our rights at their uninformed discretion and with out our consent.

Why go to court if you are going to go behind closed doors and work up deals with the industry that is not the wishes of the people who were used to form the case around, why introduce evidence to the court which puts you in some what control or gives you leverage, then in the heat of mediation be pressured by less than factual in put from the other side and a Mediator who is highly paid to sway the case into settlement of some sort. (Mediation can come from court order or both sides request, but in neither case is settlement mandatory)

These people are easily blind sided by the pro’s from the industry who are well experienced at deception, the actions of this commity will be costly to the case in many ways, such as saying to the Army corps its ok to mine before you get the EIS, It speaks along with the back room exchanges still going on between Mosaic and some of our people that we are easy,well trade a pime cow for a pig with lipstick, We are saying EPAs opinion is not valid, It says we don’t care if this case sets the way future cases will fall, knowing full well we can’t preform in lower corts where the industry is favored, above all it sais the groups are just plain not willing to stand for anything. (Run cowards run)

Our fate is in the hands of people who will only suffer from after shock of mining we are the people who are on the line that will be hit in the face with a ton of immediate crap, and we are the people who have fought the fight while many of the leaders were using our work to take our rights away and make the news as if they had done something special, well this is true it takes all to get to certain points but then the glory seekers go bananas and make stupid decisions.

so all you people that suck up to the dollars and no since white collars enjoy what they hand you for your time and money, every dog has his day this included us all.

where I go from here is very much in question but it dam sure want be with the likes of the heart of the groups involved with this federal suit I have enough enemies with out encouraging more, yes some of the people I met and worked with have a special spot in my heart but some have moved to another spot close to the rest of my main pains.

Make all the fun of this you want but keep in mined we reap what we soy and that includes bad and good, so sowing to corruptness will be accounted for the same as sowing to good even if good is not always the clearest path. (Its bad enough to make mistakes, but to continue that track after warning it becomes stupidity.)
Frank Kirkland

3PR News: Miners Dig In for a Fight ( The Wall Street Journal)

Environmentalists Say Phosphate Mining Threatens Florida Wetlands, Farmland

NOTE: ARTICLE FULL OF VERY DETAILED IMAGES
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By MIKE ESTERL
Mike Esterl/ The Wall Street Journal
Phosphate is extracted at Four Corners Mine in central Florida.
WAUCHULA, Fla.—The phosphate mined for more than a century here in central Florida to make fertilizer has yielded thousands of jobs and countless harvests around the world.
But environmental groups are arguing in federal court that the cornucopia extracts too high a price in lost wetlands, spoiled water supplies and ruined farmland.
The Sierra Club and local environmentalists have slammed the brakes on an 11,000-acre mine extension planned by industry giant Mosaic Co. after securing a court injunction in July—the first such ruling in a state that supplies approximately 70% of U.S. phosphate rock for fertilizer. Mosaic is appealing the ruling.
At the same time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to begin an environmental review early next year to determine the cumulative impact of phosphate mining in this region—the first such study in Florida since 1978.
The hurdles are threatening jobs in a local economy that is struggling to emerge from recession. Phosphate mining directly employs about 4,000 people in four Florida counties, generating an estimated 20% of the world’s phosphate fertilizer.
In Hardee County, where Mosaic’s mine extension is located, the unemployment rate has more than doubled to 15% since 2007. On the main street of Wauchula, the county seat, about half the store fronts are vacant. “I would hate to see anything happen that prohibits mining,” said Terry Atchley, chairman of the county’s board of commissioners.
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Mike Esterl/The Wall Street Journal
Phosphate mining in four Florida counties employs about 4,000 people and produces about 20% of the world’s phosphate fertilizer.
Phosphate companies own nearly a quarter of the land in Hardee County, or about 120,000 acres.
Phosphate is extracted from “Bone Valley,” an ancient fossil bed where the nutrient-rich mineral lies. Seven-million-pound “draglines” create vast open-pit mines by digging often 50 feet or deeper with 300-foot-long booms and shovels large enough to cradle trucks. The mix of rock, clay and sand extracted is then separated, before the phosphate is combined with sulfuric acid to produce fertilizer.
Environmentalists say such mines damage wetlands and harm the area’s dwindling water supply. In addition to using water to process phosphate, large areas of clay left behind are less permeable and can block underground water flows. Past spills from such areas have polluted rivers, killing fish.
Critics say the strip mining also renders large tracts of land unusable for agriculture for many years. They also warn of health risks from increased radiation levels, because the mining brings radioactive materials closer to the surface.
“We’re trying to ensure that it’s done more responsibly in the future,” said Percy Angelo, chairwoman of the Sierra Club’s phosphate committee in Florida.
Mosaic says it’s responsible for less than 10% of the region’s groundwater usage and that it carefully rehabilitates mined lands. It also says the proposed South Fort Meade extension in Hardee County has been reviewed by 14 local, state and federal agencies since 2003, producing more than 100,000 pages of documents.
“We are a highly regulated industry,” said Richard Mack, general counsel of Plymouth, Minn.-based Mosaic, the world’s largest producer of phosphate fertilizer.
Mosaic, majority-owned by Cargill Inc., estimates its reserves are sufficient to continue mining for another 40 years in Florida. But it only has enough permits to cover about 10 years. The contested South Fort Meade extension would roughly double its permitted reserves.
After a Jacksonville court halted the South Fort Meade extension, Mosaic published advertisements in local newspapers warning it would have to lay off more than 200 workers. That struck a nerve in Hardee County, where mining jobs are among the highest paid and per-capita personal income is barely half the national average. Mosaic has nearly 300 workers in the county, making it the third-largest private-sector employer after a medical rehabilitation center and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CF Industries Inc., a smaller phosphate miner, ranks fourth.

“A lot of families are relying on their miner fathers,” said Zakk McClellan, 21 years old, who buses tables in a Wauchula restaurant and is critical of environmentalists.
Conservation groups have fought back, publishing their own advertisements in local papers and arguing that more jobs would be generated if the land was used for agriculture.
Since 1975, Florida has required phosphate companies to reclaim each acre of land that it mines for other purposes and replace wetlands. By the end of 2008, 69% of the 184,681 acres mined since 1975 had been reclaimed, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Mosaic says about 95% of the 30,000 acres it has reclaimed in the past decade have been converted to pasture land for more than 4,500 head of cattle.
Earlier this month, it also unveiled plans to build a 140-room luxury resort—with two 18-hole golf courses designed by Ben Crenshaw—on 16,000 acres of formerly mined land. The Polk County resort is scheduled to open in 2013.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the three-decade-old environmental-impact statement on phosphate mining in central Florida is outdated and that a comprehensive review will allow for better decision-making. The new study will take 18 months to complete, according to the Corps.
Federal regulators also decided to take a closer look after the Gulf Coast counties of Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota contested phosphate projects in state courts in recent years, arguing that further inland mining could threaten their shared drinking-water supply and harm coastal estuaries.
In late October, environmentalists reached a temporary truce with Mosaic, allowing it to mine an initial 200 acres at the contested site in return for avoiding some wetlands. The new acreage amounts to about four months of mining, postponing the immediate threat of big layoffs.
Despite the tough economy, some locals support the push for greater scrutiny and are skeptical that the industry has been doing enough to clean up after itself.
“I’m not a big supporter of the Sierra Club,” said Kenneth Jinwright, 58, a postal worker in Wauchula. “But if they can bring light to this, it’s probably a good thing.”
Write to Mike Esterl at mike.esterl@wsj.com

Phosphate lawsuit: In hard-hit Hardee County, it’s wetlands vs. jobs

By Steve Huettel and Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Read article here

FORT MEADE — After a hitch in the Navy and work handling psychiatric patients in lockdown, Billy Griffis held a prized job in this corner of rural Central Florida. • Mosaic Fertilizer paid him $42,000 last year as “wrencher” laying big pipes and fixing pumps at its South Fort Meade phosphate mine. Griffis, 35, didn’t worry about job security. Fertilizer prices soared in recent months, and the world’s largest phosphate fertilizer producer hadn’t laid off a worker during the mine’s 15-year history. • That changed in September. After the Sierra Club and two Florida environmental groups won a federal court ruling to stop work on new section of the mine, Mosaic warned that hundreds of jobs were at risk, then cut 60. The company blamed the Sierra Club. Environmentalists shot back that Mosaic was playing hard-ball to sway public opinion. • The two sides worked out a deal that will bring all the employees back for a while. But neither is ready to quit. Too much is at stake.
Mosaic says it could run short of Florida phosphate without the Fort Meade expansion. Workers worry they’ll be back out of work in a drum-tight job market if the environmental groups win in court. Environmentalists hope a rare court victory will force mining regulators to get tougher with the state’s powerful phosphate business.
• • •
The groups sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 30, challenging a permit it gave Mosaic to destroy 500 acres of wetlands in an extension of the mine into Hardee County. The next day, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. ordered a temporary ban on mining wetlands on the 10,855-acre site.
Within days, Mosaic said it would be forced to close the mine and notified 221 workers they faced layoffs in 60 days unless the judge lifted the order. Instead, Adams indefinitely continued the ban, saying the company could still mine upland areas for as long as two years.
Mosaic called it impractical to navigate massive draglines around pockets of wetlands and still mine enough phosphate to make economic sense. But laidoff workers began returning last week, after the agreement with environmentalists to let Mosaic dig 200 acres that had been prepared for mining before the lawsuit.
That gives employees four months of work while the battle grinds through the courts. What happens next lies in the hands of a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
• • •
Environmentalists say mining those wetlands at South Fort Meade will cause more damage than it’s worth. They contend it will lower the level of the already-drained Peace River and the underground aquifer, affecting the local water supply.
Also, destroying wetlands that filter pollutants from stormwater runoff could foul the river that empties 100 miles south into Charlotte Harbor, they say. The river is vital to maintaining the harbor’s delicate salinity that hosts endangered species as well as thriving commercial and recreational fishing.
Mosaic is counting on the South Fort Meade mine expansion to produce 30 percent of the rock that its Florida plants process into diammonium phosphate fertilizer, known as DAP. Without the new mine, Mosaic might have to import rock from Morocco or Peru at a higher cost to keep its fertilizer plants running at full capacity.
Any decline in production at Mosaic, which employs 3,000 in Florida, would ripple through contractors and vendors: welders, equipment mechanics, suppliers of bulk chemicals such as liquid ammonia.
Phosphate mining in Central Florida made Tampa a port city in the 1880s and still plays a big role supporting the maritime business.
The phosphate and fertilizer industry generated one-third of the 38 million tons of cargo that moved through the port last year. It supports more than 67,000 jobs in the region, reported a 2006 study commissioned by the Tampa Port Authority.
“It’s a singular industry,” says port director Richard Wainio. “Florida doesn’t have a lot of big industries, and this is at or near the top of the pile as far as economic benefit for the state.”
Judge Adams’ ruling, believed to be the first court order to stop a Florida mining operation, delighted environmentalists like Dennis Mader of the Protect the Peace River, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“For years and years, the phosphate industry has ridden along on the short-term economic benefits in the form of jobs, business at the Port of Tampa and contractors,” said Mader, a resident of Hardee County. “Everybody’s excused the environmental damage that’s endemic in their method of operation.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, the Bartow Republican elected Nov. 2 as Florida’s agriculture commissioner, on the other hand, contends that environmentalists are out to kill the golden goose.
“If you’re serious about putting Florida back to work, why in the world would you eliminate one of its largest employers?” he told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in September.
• • •
It’s not unusual to find families with two or three generations of men who have worked the mines in the vast rural landscape where Polk, Hardee, Hillsborough and Manatee counties come together. They might have played for or against South Fort Meade High School’s football team, the Fighting Miners.
Citrus and cattle dominate the local economy outside mining. Without a college degree, it’s tough even to find work that pays a little over minimum wage, says Griffis, who returned to his job at the South Fort Meade mine Monday.
Unemployment in his home county of Hardee hit 14.8 percent in September, tied with Hernando for the fourth-highest rate among Florida’s 72 counties. While unemployed, Griffis applied for jobs with the city of Wauchula, the county seat and the local McDonald’s. None was hiring.
Clay Farris hoped to be back at work as a Mosaic conveyor operator this week or next. On unemployment since September, he has burned through $5,000 in savings and stopped making $1,300 mortgage payments on his house in Frostproof.
The lawsuit has sparked friction within families. Farris, 32, was borrowing his brother-in-law’s truck but something on the bumper stopped him in his tracks: a Sierra Club sticker.
“That got ripped off plenty quick,” he says. His brother-in-law, a beekeeper, dropped his membership.
Last week, Mosaic announced plans to launch a new business near Fort Meade. The company will build a luxury golf resort on 2,000 acres of restored mine land. Building the golf course, clubhouse and guest villas at Streamsong Resort will employ hundreds of construction workers, Mosaic says. A hospitality management company will employ at least 200 people by the opening, scheduled for fall 2013.
“Without Mosaic’s help,” Griffis says, “Hardee County would turn into a ghost town.”
• • •
Formed by a 2004 merger between IMC-Global and Cargill, Mosaic first applied for the federal permit for the South Fort Meade mine expansion four years ago, after three years of reviews by local and state agencies gave it a green light.
The Corps of Engineers at last approved a permit that allowed Mosaic to souffle more than 500 acres of wetlands or open water. To make up for the environmental damage, the corps required Mosaic to create about 480 acres of new wetlands — something scientists say is often difficult, if not impossible.
The corps’ own rules require looking for less environmentally damaging alternatives when a project does not have to be built in wetlands. If the agency relies on the applicant to do that analysis, then the corps must double-check the work.
But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mosaic and the corps failed to meet their responsibilities. For example, the EPA said, Mosaic should have considered a smaller mine that wouldn’t destroy so many wetlands. And the corps didn’t independently verify the company’s findings.
The EPA declined to use its seldom-invoked power to veto the permit. But the agency’s objections to the corps helped persuade Judge Adams to block further mining while the corps must start over on a crucial part of the Mosaic permit application.
Environmental and civic groups, alarmed by the phosphate industry’s water use and waste products, have been calling for a decade for the corps to launch a regionwide study of the environmental impact of mining. Instead, the corps has looked only at each permit application on its own.
But the suit over Mosaic’s permit contended that past mining has contributed to tremendous environmental degradation in Central Florida. It cited the corps’ own findings that phosphate mining had led to the loss of 343 miles of streams and 136,000 acres of wetlands in the Peace River region, as well as a decline in the Floridan Aquifer of up to 50 feet within the Peace River watershed.
After Adams’ ruling, the corps finally agreed in August to spend about 18 months on a regional study of phosphate mining’s impact on the environment. The reason: In addition to the South Fort Meade mine, the corps has pending wetland destruction permit applications for 11 more new mines, which it says “may result in significant cumulative environmental impacts in the future.”
Despite the contentions of Putnam and other pro-mining advocates, “it’s not our intention to stop mining,” said Glenn Compton of ManaSota-88, another plaintiff in the Mosaic suit. “We just want to make it a better process.”
Mosaic worker Farris insists environmental groups go too far when they endanger people’s livelihoods.
“I’m all for the environment,” he says. “I love to hunt and fish. I take my kids out on the boat. I love camping. But people have got to have jobs.”
Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8128.

[Last modified: Nov 20, 2010 12:43 AM] Copyright 2010 St. Petersburg Times

3PR News: Streamsong, The Emperor’s New Clothes

Hold your nose and check out how Mosaic’s new “Streamsong” resort is being marketed….

http://www.streamsongresort.com/

Click here to read article in PDF format
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Welcome to a new kind of resort. Miles from what you might expect to find in Central Florida, Streamsong is the ideal destination for relaxation, restoration and, most of all, renewal. Here, the natural beauty of Florida sets the stage for escape amid pristine lakes and gentle streams. Streamsong’s guests are welcome to enjoy not only premium resort features like world-class golf and fine dining, but also enrichment programs centered on the arts, wellness, nature and more.

It’s the redefinition of resort. Explore the great outdoors, and also learn about the surrounding ecology. Pamper yourself with spa treatments, or find a new voice in a writing workshop. Far from your typical destination, Streamsong is a place to immerse yourself in any number of experiences, and come away enriched.

At Streamsong, outdoor opportunities abound, including two 18-hole golf courses, unparalleled Florida bass fishing, and hiking and biking on nature trails – to name just a few.

Guests can also take part in activities that elevate the mind and spirit. From wellness to culinary learning, and from gardening to fine arts, immersion programs will be offered in partnership with Florida’s best and brightest.

Whether enjoying fine dining, taking in an unfettered view of the stars from the rooftop garden or embarking on a nearby nature excursion, these unique offerings will make your stay at Streamsong an experience without equal.

3PR News: Life in the Dead Zone

We’ve all seen this news. I’m sending the article from the Tampa Tribune because they dared to print my opinion on it. Read on….

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/nov/17/171941/mosaic-to-transform-polk-mine-site-into-luxury-res/news-money/

Mosaic to transform Polk mine site into luxury resort

By RAY REYES | The Tampa Tribune
Published: November 17, 2010
Updated: 11/17/2010 07:41 pm

AUBURNDALE – Land scarred from years of excavators gouging the earth for phosphate deposits will soon be home to a luxury resort with 160 guest rooms, five villas and a 20,000-square foot convention center Hills and quarries, created to mine the key mineral for fertilizer, are being transformed into the resort’s two golf courses. Details of how the desolate landscape on 16,000 acres in Polk County will become the Streamsong resort were unveiled today by the tract’s owners, The Mosaic Co. The resort and its adjoining golf courses mark the phosphate-mining giant’s first venture into real estate development. Tourist officials said the construction and operation of the resort creates jobs and gives the local economy a much-needed boost. Some environmental groups are pleased the property will be refurbished and put to good use. But other environmentalists locked in legal disputes with Mosaic remain wary of the company’s every move. “I’ve been watching it with amusement,” Dennis Mader, president of People Protecting Peace River, said of Streamsong’s development. “Their plan is to create a resort out of what I call the dead zone. All I can say is good luck if they truly think they can compete with Orlando or Miami Beach. I wish them well.”
Tom Patton, the executive director of the Central Florida Development Council, said the transformation from phosphate mine to tourist attraction is welcome news for that rural area in southwest Polk. “It’s remarkably exciting,” Patton said. “The long-term effect is the tourism and bringing the visitors in.”

Streamsong, expected to open in 2013, is about five miles east of Ft. Meade on the Polk-Hardee county line. Other planned amenities for the resort include a spa, two lounges, retail stores and outfitters, bass fishing, croquet, a sporting clays range and nature trails.
Construction of the golf courses began over the summer. Bill Coore, of golf course-designing firm Coore & Crenshaw, is building one course. The former mines, Coore said, “contain some of the most unusual, interesting and dramatic land forms we have ever encountered.”
Lead architect Alberto Alfonso, whose father designed Tampa International Airport, said he wanted the resort to take advantage of the rural setting and lakefront views by building a rooftop veranda and other features. “The challenge is to try to keep intimacy for the guest experience on such a big piece of property,” he said. Mosaic spokesman Dave Townsend said more than 70 percent of the 16,000 acres will remain open space. The resort won’t adversely impact adjoining wetlands and other environmentally sensitive lands, he said. “There are no environmental issues on-site that would be a concern,” Townsend said. But Mosaic, and the phosphate mining industry, has been no stranger to controversy. Mader’s environmental group, along with the Sierra Club, has clashed with Mosaic in court over permitting issues involving phosphate mining in Manatee County that Mader said threatens the Peace River. A judge issued an injunction July 23 stopping Mosaic from mining near wetlands; the mining company is appealing the ruling.

Then there is the plethora of scientific studies suggesting radon contamination exists on the sites of old phosphate mines. Guerry McClellan, a former University of Florida geology professor who now runs his own consulting firm, said much of the data conflict.
“This is not a cut and dried business,” McClellan said of scientific research into low-level radiation on land stripped of phosphate. “There’s a whole lot of opinions and very, very few real facts. There’s a conflict of data that doesn’t make much sense.” Mosaic is a historically conservative company that wouldn’t propose a resort like Streamsong if its scientists thought the land was unsafe, McClellan said. “They don’t make a habit of doing screwy things,” he said.
Eric Draper, the executive director of Audubon of Florida, said Mosaic appears to have a solid plan with Streamsong. “Generally, you’ve got to do something with reclaimed land,” Draper said. “It’s better to develop damaged land than go after pristine land.”

Polk officials approved an amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan in June, paving the way for Mosaic’s project, Growth Management Director Tom Deardorff said.
The county has had successful reclaimed land projects before, including the Lakeside Village outdoor mall, the Imperial Lakes Golf Course and the Lakes at Christina subdivision in Lakeland, he said.

rreyes@tampatrib.com
(813) 259-7920
News Channel 8 reporter Jennifer Leigh contributed to this report

Morocco Plans 800 Acre Resort Hotel Funded by Fertilizer Cash

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-05/morocco-plans-800-acre-resort-hotel-funded-by-fertilizer-cash.html

By Brendan Borrell and Daniel Grushkin
Nov 5, 2010 11:15 AM ET

Béatrice Montagnier, a hotel specialist with consulting firm Horwath HTL, snapped pictures of an old warehouse and a jumble of sun-baked two-story concrete block homes outside the Moroccan town of Khouribga. It was May 2009 and Paris-based Montagnier was scoping out a planned site for an 800-acre hotel resort and museum. While she worked on details of project layout, one issue — funding — was not a concern. The estimated $1 billion needed to build the resort would come from the ground beneath her feet, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Nov. 8 issue. Khouribga and elsewhere in Morocco are home to the world’s biggest known deposits of phosphate, used in fertilizer, detergent, food additives, and more recently lithium-ion batteries. Sold for decades in its raw state for less than $50 per metric ton, it’s currently at about $125, according to World Bank figures. This is good news for Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, 47, who owns more than half the world’s phosphate reserves. Mohammed VI is the unofficial overseer of the state-owned phosphate monopoly, Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), Morocco’s largest industrial company. Most traders expect OCP to drive the commodity’s price higher, which means the cost of making everything from corn syrup to iPads will be going up. Phosphate as fertilizer is the engine powering modern agriculture, and its reserves are in decline almost everywhere except Morocco. Most phosphate mines, including those in the U.S., which produces 17 percent of global supply, have been in decline for the past decade, running out of quality rock and hindered by environmental regulation. That has forced companies to look farther afield for supplies.

Mosaic, BHP, Potash
Earlier this year, Mosaic Co. spent $385 million for a 35 percent stake in a Peruvian mine to supply rock to its phosphate operations in the U.S. and South America. Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, made a $40 billion hostile takeover offer for Canada’s Potash Corp., a major supplier of both potash and phosphate. Even a temporary phosphate shortage could affect a range of U.S. industries. Phosphate fertilizer is used on just about every crop, though most in the U.S. goes to the 13 billion bushels of corn grown each year to make everything from corn syrup to cattle feed to ethanol. The 2007-08 food crisis gives clues to how a shortage might play out. At that time, rising food prices led to riots across Africa and Asia. Before the crisis was over, China had levied a 135 percent export tariff on its phosphate to protect its domestic food supply; phosphate there is still taxed at 110 percent at the height of the buying season.

85% of World’s Total
The scale of Morocco’s phosphate wealth was officially verified in September, when the International Fertilizer Development Center released its long-awaited update on global phosphate resources. Morocco’s portion went from the 5.7 billion tons still cited in U.S. Geologic Survey reports, to 50 billion tons — 85 percent of the world’s total. Even with 170 million tons of concentrated phosphate changing hands each year, the Moroccans likely have at least 300 to 400 years of rock available.

Talal Zouaoui, OCP’s director of communications, won’t agree or disagree with estimates, but says in an e-mail that Morocco has “significant reserves,” and notes that reserves denote only those quantities that countries have discovered and deem economically viable to extract. With a growing world population consuming more grain, more meat, and more biofuels, demand is expected to rise at a rate of 2 percent to 3 percent per year, according to the International Fertilizer Association. Dana Cordell, co-founder of the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, predicts that phosphate production will “peak” within the next 50 years.

Fertilizer, Coca-Cola
Not all phosphate becomes fertilizer: about 15 percent is turned into detergents or food additives, such as the tangy phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola, or the moisture-retaining salts in salami.
OCP controls 30 percent of global phosphate exports, and plans to increase annual production from 30 million tons to 54 million tons by 2015, investing $5 billion in the process. By that time, Prayon SA, a Belgian phosphate processor in which OCP owns a 50 percent stake, believes demand for phosphate as a component of the lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles could exceed demand for it in detergent. At September’s World Fertilizer Conference in San Francisco, Morocco’s ascendancy was the main topic of conversation.

Hotel Hopping
Asked about OCP, trader Mark Mangassarian answered with a question: “Oh, you mean the guys who are trying to drive up phosphate prices the most?” Mangassarian, who is assistant vice-president for sales at Nitron International in Stamford, Conn., spent three days doing deals at the San Francisco conference hopping from suite to suite at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square. Though the industry average for diammonium phosphate fertilizer has hovered around $500 this summer, the executives he sat down with weren’t willing to go below $550. A few weeks later, Mangassarian came to see it their way, and is paying $560. OCP’s tough negotiating tactics have irritated many in the industry. “You try to talk to them, and they don’t answer. They’ve always been like that. That’s their strategy,” says Taoufik Meddeb, who buys sulfur for Groupe Chimique Tunisien, another state-owned company and OCP’s biggest competitor in North Africa. “God just put the phosphate there,” said Jamal Bensari, a member of OCP’s delegation. “It is our only resource, and it is our responsibility.” ‘Quasi-Impossible’ OCP’s current communications director Zouaoui declined to arrange interviews for Bloomberg Businessweek following multiple requests in September and October. “It is quasi-impossible right now,” he explained. In a separate e-mail, he also noted that OCP is “subject to customary international governance standards for a global corporation, including transparency and accountability.”

Mohammed VI, called the King of the Poor for his efforts to raise Morocco’s living standards, has about $2 billion in assets, which places him seventh on Forbes’ list of the richest royals. That’s far behind Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai but well ahead of the Prince of Monaco. Although he is not technically the head of state, he has control of the country as both a secular and religious leader. He appoints the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and has the power to overrule or dissolve the elected Parliament. His portrait adorns the first page of OCP’s annual reports, and his face appears in nearly every home and coffee shop. The Moroccan Embassy did not respond to requests for interviews with the King.

Disputed Territory
Western Sahara is a disputed territory. It’s also where Morocco’s best phosphate lies. The region known to the King as “Moroccan Sahara” begins just south of the fishing village of Tarfaya on the Atlantic coast. The UN calls it “the non-self- governing territory of Western Sahara” and deems it “occupied.” It’s a place where phosphate rumbles to the coast on the world’s longest conveyor belt, while tanks and soldiers roam alongside, defending the shipments from Sahrawi separatists.
When Spain withdrew from Western Sahara in 1975, some 350,000 Moroccans marched into the region with tents on their backs. The native Sahrawi fought back for 16 years under the leadership of the Algerian-backed Polisario rebels, signing a cease-fire in 1991. The UN continues to monitor the agreement with 215 uniformed peacekeepers, but a planned vote on self- determination has been repeatedly delayed. Today, approximately 90,000 Sahrawi live in refugee camps in Algeria, separated from their families in Moroccan-controlled territory by a 1,400-mile- long berm dotted with land mines.

Land Mines
OCP reports that just 2 percent of Morocco’s phosphate lies in the Phousboucraa mine at Bou Craa in Western Sahara, and that it accounts for 6 percent of sales. Companies in Australia and Norway have said they no longer use phosphate mined in Western Sahara. In August, Mosaic told the advocacy group Western Sahara Resource Watch that it has stopped buying rock from the territory. The U.S., in addition to needing the phosphate, sees Morocco as an ally in the war against terrorism. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed U.S. support for Morocco’s plan of “limited autonomy” for the territory, which stops short of the independence demanded by the Polisario.

Private Riads
Montagnier finished her consulting contract last year, but her employer, Horwath, has a small office in Rabat and is working on other projects. The King opened the Royal Mansour Marrakech hotel this year, with private riads — the traditional style of home with a courtyard and garden — going for $2,200 per night. For Khouribga, Montagnier has settled on three stars for the hotel, but says the final room tally awaits approval by OCP. Architects put the total price on the project, known as Mine Verte, at 665 million euros ($937 million). “Khouribga is the world capital of phosphates,” says Founoun Mohammed, 48, a subcontractor overseeing the first stages of a pipeline that will deliver phosphate in slurry form from Khouribga to the port of Jorf Lasfar south of Casablanca, 146 miles away. After work he settles down at the back of a favorite restaurant and talks business over seafood paella. A bottle of Moroccan wine is not to his liking, and he orders a French red for the table. “People will come from Europe, the United States, everywhere to see Khouribga. It will raise the level of the city.” He is in high spirits and pours a glass of wine for the waiter, who tosses it back in a single gulp. Mohammed says he loves his country: He is safe and has a good job, what else can he ask for? “The King,” he says, “is a gentleman.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Brendan Borrell at bborrell@nasw.org; Daniel Grushkin through Bryant Urstadt in New York at burstadt@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net

Zolfo Springs ranch site yields a rare fossil find

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20101029/ARTICLE/10291043/2416/NEWS?p=all&tc=pgall

By Billy Cox
Published: Friday, October 29, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 11:04 p.m.

HARDEE COUNTY – Sarasota attorney Bill Harrison was walking his 700-acre ranch after a summer rain when something peculiar caught his eye. Erosion had sheared the face from a 6-foot sandy clay embankment overlooking a exposed a true mystery.

“When I saw that thing sticking out, I thought, ‘What in the world would Indians have been doing so deep down in those layers?’ It made me think maybe it was a piece of a big bull that had washed down the creek and bleached out.”
Harrison began digging around, and soon found another bone.
After he e-mailed photos to family members, friends and the University of Florida, his discovery in August was confirmed as the massive molar and scapula — part of the bony shoulder girdle — of a mammoth species believed to have died off 11,000 years ago.
For paleontologist Dr. Richard Hulbert, who has been recovering Florida fossils for 30 years, the find was a first.
“I’ve worked on mastodon digs and on much older sites,” said Hulbert, taking a break Wednesday afternoon beside a small stack of huge ribs embedded in the banks of the Peace River tributary meandering near Zolfo Springs in Hardee County. “And I’ve found mammoth bones here and there. But this is my first mammoth skeleton.”
A Columbian mammoth, to be exact, and among the last of the native North American elephants to go extinct.
Hulbert, collections manager of vertebrate paleontology with the Florida Museum of Natural History, visited the site in August, and Harrison agreed to donate the discovery to science.
Excavation began Oct. 18, after the water levels in Charlie Creek began to recede.
A descendant of the forest-dwelling Woolly Mammoth, the Columbian was a slightly larger prairie forager with longer legs. After having recovered 60 to 70 percent of the skeleton, Hulbert estimates this young adult stood 15 feet tall at the shoulders and weighed 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.
But its tusks are missing, as are parts of its pelvic bone, so its gender has yet to be determined.
With an assist from a backhoe and a front-end loader, two vanloads of material, including the skull, were hauled to Gainesville earlier this month. Bison, llama, and giant land tortoise fragments have also been recovered.
One femur was so big, it took up the entire scoop of a front-end loader.
“Oh, it’s been exciting,” says Harrison, a senior attorney with Williams Parker in Sarasota. “We’ve had all kinds of volunteers around here helping out. We’ve had an airline pilot, a school teacher from Jacksonville, a dentist and a Boy Scout. Some people really get hooked on this stuff.”
Hulbert says recruiting volunteers to help on digs is rarely a problem, but maintaining security on private property — and getting landowners to cooperate — can be dicey. Harrison’s donation, he says, marks only the second major Columbian skeleton recovered from Southwest Florida.
Hulbert points to the strata to illustrate the nature of luck in preservation. Had the elephant died a couple of feet in another direction, it would likely have decomposed quickly in a layer of powdered sand instead of in soil that allowed minerals to leach into and solidify its bones.
So far, this particular creature shows no sign of predation.
Climate change and encounters with early humans are believed to have contributed to the extinction of America’s indigenous pachyderms.
Recently, Hulbert analyzed a controversial piece of evidence suggestive of human-mammoth interaction and could find no sign of obvious fraud.
In 2009, a fossil collector named James Kennedy was cleaning off an ancient, 15-inch-long bone he recovered from a site in Vero Beach two years earlier when he discovered it had an etching of a mammoth on all fours, complete with curved tusks.
Smithsonian Institute paleontologists who examined the bone have also tentatively agreed that the etching, like the bone itself, is prehistoric.
“If it turns out to be what we think it is, it’s the oldest evidence of realistic art in North America,” Hulbert says.
The fossils recovered from Harrison’s property will be housed and studied at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

3PR Letter to Ledger: Mosaic’s Permit Was Deficient

To Editor
The Lakeland Ledger
October 21, 2010
Yeah, phosphate mining’s been part of Bartow’s life and culture for nearly a century – and it permanently destroyed your most precious resource: Kissengen Springs. So why should we stand by and watch that destruction to the lower Peace River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary?

If Mr. Ron Kelly “understands what he reads” then he would know that know that the reason there is a court injunction on Mosaic’s S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension is precisely because the Army Corps of Engineers’ Dredge and Fill (404) Permit was determined to be deficient in several areas by a federal court judge. If Mosaic’s permit was so perfect then why did the judge determine to grant a preliminary injunction stating: “Mosaic’s alternatives analysis, as well as the Corps verification of the same, was incomplete.” The injunction was ordered because the court understands that it is not in the public interest to destroy wetlands unnecessarily and that even if wetland restoration is successful (EPA says it is not) there is a time lag of a decade or more between mining and restoration.

It is ridiculous to direct his anger at Mr. Huber, the environmental plaintiff’s attorney based in Colorado. (Remember Mosaic’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, and their CEO is a Canadian). The lawsuit was filed locally by Sierra Club, represented in Polk, Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties; by 3PR based in Wauchula; and by Manasota-88 based in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. The destruction of wetlands in Hardee County will have its effect on freshwater flows to Charlotte Harbor 80 miles downstream which is the base of the coastal counties’ economy as well as a source of drinking water.

I have been involved in this lawsuit from its inception. Mosaic was offered a portion of the S. Ft. Meade Extension mine to continue operating. It was their choice to refuse it. The environmental plaintiffs offered to mediate before the preliminary injunction was ordered. Mosaic refused. When mediation negotiations finally began and an agreement to allow mining to begin was imminent Mosaic filed another motion in court derailing the process. Now Mr. Huber is preoccupied responding to Mosaic’s latest motion to stay – he is no longer available to negotiate a settlement.

Mr. Huber was correct: If Mosaic employees are laid off it’s due to the choices of the Mosaic management and legal team, and has nothing to do with him and the environmental plaintiffs.

According to the latest Rate of Reclamation Report, issued by the state, only 4% of the existing S. Fort Meade Mine has been reclaimed and released. When deep water drilling was shut down for spewing oil all over the Gulf of Mexico they kept their workers busy cleaning and upgrading equipment. Why can’t Mosaic do the same? Mosaic made around $300 million profit in the last financial quarter – yet they lay off workers while their insufficient permit is adjudicated. (Wake up, phosphate workers! Profits over People)

Mosaic’s Dredge and Fill permit was deficient according to a federal court. They have to answer to the public for that the same way you would if your building didn’t pass inspection.

Please visit our website for more information on phosphate mining’s effect on the aquifers of central Florida: www.protectpeaceriver.org

Dennis Mader
President 3PR (People for Protecting Peace River Inc)
Wauchula, FL

Read Ron Kelly’s letter below:

The Lakeland Ledger

Published: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 11:48 p.m.
I’m writing to take issue with comments made by Eric Huber of the Sierra Club in the latest article about the club’s litigation to stop mining at Mosaic’s South Fort Meade mine.
Mr. Huber, the Sierra Club’s attorney, claims that it is Mosaic’s fault that the workers at South Fort Meade may lose their jobs. I find it ironic that a Sierra Club attorney from Colorado, who represents the organization whose lawsuit precipitated this entire situation, wants us to believe the Sierra Club is not responsible. Do he and his partners in San Francisco who initiated this lawsuit really believe the residents of Polk County are that gullible?
Polk County residents understand phosphate mining. It’s been a part of our lives and culture for more than a century. When we read articles about phosphate in the paper, we understand what we read.
It’s clear to us that this was a very thorough permitting process and that Mosaic went to great lengths to make sure the permit was protective of the environment. Apparently, the Sierra Club thinks it can point the finger at Mosaic and we’ll all go along with it. We’re smarter than that and we know they are responsible for the Polk County residents that are losing their jobs as a result of the lawsuit.
Mosaic has been a great supporter of so many organizations and good causes in Polk County and now they deserve our support. Mosaic employees are our friends and neighbors.
It appears that the Sierra Club is not happy with just putting some of them out of work, it also feels it necessary to attack their character. I, for one, cannot let that go unanswered.
RON KELLY
Bartow