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
President 3PR (People for Protecting Peace River Inc)
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.