Opponents challenge new Mosaic mining plan

Opponents challenge new Mosaic mining plan

By BRIAN ACKLEY
Fort Meade Leader/Polk County Democrat
Staff Writer
Published:
Saturday, April 23, 2011 1:54 PM EDT
A plan unveiled earlier this week that would keep mining operations going for at least another year is being challenged by opponents who filed a lawsuit last year to stop an expansion at Mosaic’s South Fort Meade site.

An expansion into Hardee County that would involve mining about 7,800 total acres has been embroiled in legal wranglings since last summer. Mosaic is seeking the expansion to keep the mine operations uninterrupted, and avoid laying off about 140 workers.

A trio of groups, including the Sierra Club and People for Protecting the Peace River (3PR) filed suit to stop the expansion. A federal judge issued a halt to the expansion plan after the suit was filed, but earlier this month a federal appeals court sent that ruling back to the lower court with instructions to take a new look at its decision. It gave the lower court a 90-day stay of its injunction while it came up with a new ruling.

In the meantime, the two sides agreed last October to a deal that would allow Mosaic to mine 40 acres in Hardee County, thereby forestalling any layoffs. However, Mosaic said that would only allow them to mine there into early summer.

Late Tuesday, Mosaic revealed it had come up with a plan that would allow them to use those 40 acres to access another 700 acres on the site, dubbed Area 2, that did not involve any wetlands. As such, the phosphate giant said it did not need any further permitting for that idea, since permits were already in place before the lawsuit was filed.

But Dennis Mader, a Wauchula resident and president of 3PR, said not so fast.

“The 90-day stay was meant to preserve the status quo,” Mader told The Fort Meade Leader. “To mine Area 2 would affect adjacent wetlands, the very reason for which we challenged this permit in the first place.”

He also added that “by their (Mosaic’s) own previous arguments, to mine Area 2 would require re-permitting from the state.”

Mosaic described the 700 acres as “uplands” and not wetlands, in its court filing earlier this week.

The plaintiffs also argue that since the court case has currently stayed needed permits for expansion, “there is in effect no permit for Mosaic to comply with.”

Opponents note that the uplands proposal involves land that “surrounds and is immediately adjacent to the jurisdictional wetlands. Mosaic promises to ‘avoid’ the wetlands and not to ‘mine’ them. However, there would be adverse impacts to them.”

In addition, the plaintiffs noted that “any mining activity that affects the soils or subsoils of these adjacent uplands has the potential to alter the timing and volume of groundwater flows to these down-gradient wetlands.”

On Tuesday, Mosaic said it was planning on transitioning its mining operations to these 700 acres in the next 30 to 60 days. A company spokesperson said while mining only the uplands was less efficient than also including the wetlands for mining operations, it would allow them to “keep its workforce employed while it addresses the merits of the litigation.”

It is unclear if and when a court ruling might come on this latest plan.

On Tuesday, Mosaic officials said they didn’t expect a new ruling from the U.S. district court in Jacksonville on the larger lawsuit issue until July.

Channel 8 Reporter Takes Phosphate Job

One way by which the phosphate industry affects journalistic scrutiny is to advertise heavily in local news media – spending millions to portray their industry as beneficent, responsible and rooted in Florida tradition.

Here’s a case where a reporter just circumvented the television station and went to work directly for Big Daddy….

JACKIE BARRON: News Channel 8 reporter Jackie Barron has decided to leave WFLA, Channel 8, to take a job with Florida-based Mosaic, a phosphate and potash provider, according to WFLA News Director Don North.

Mosaic Notifies Court of Mining Additional Uplands at South Fort Meade Mine

PLYMOUTH, Minn., April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ —
The Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) announced that it has notified the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida that it plans to conduct uplands-only mining (i.e., non-wetlands) in an area at its South Fort Meade, Florida, phosphate rock mine in Hardee County. This upland area is accessible from the approximately 200-acre area where the Company is currently mining. Mosaic plans to begin transitioning its mining operations into these uplands over the next 30 to 60 days. The South Fort Meade permit for mining wetlands issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under review by the District Court, as recently ordered by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Company estimates approximately one to two years of mining potential in this upland area. Although the uplands-only mining will be less efficient than if the Company could also mine the wetlands, this transition will allow the Company to continue to produce phosphate rock and keep its workforce employed while it addresses the merits of the litigation concerning the permit for mining wetlands in the extension of the Company’s South Fort Meade mine into Hardee County. A ruling by the District Court is expected by July 2011.

NY Times on Phosphate Mine study

Army Corps Tries to Assess Impacts of Sprawling Phosphate Operations in Fla.
http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/04/14/14greenwire-army-corps-tries-to-assess-impacts-of-sprawlin-83462.html?pagewanted=all
By MANUEL QUINONES of Greenwire
Published: April 14, 2011

The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a sweeping assessment of the environmental impacts of Florida phosphate mining in response to pleas from environmentalists and
The politicians concerned about the health of their state’s waterways.
The Go to Blog » corps’ environmental impact statement (EIS) will examine the Central Florida Phosphate District, whose 1 million or so acres sprawl across several counties east of Tampa Bay. The area is so rich in phosphates — critical ingredients in fertilizers and pesticides — that experts say it will take decades for mining companies to exhaust it.
“It’s the biggest producing region in the United States,” Stephen Jasinski, a phosphate expert with U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview.
And assessing the area’s environmental impact figures to be a complicated endeavor, but the Army Corps, which formally announced the study earlier this year, is aiming to complete the study by next summer.
“We have what we call an aggressive schedule,” said project manager John Fellows in an interview. “Many of the other agencies we are working with are skeptical because it is a tremendous endeavor. It’s just a very long process.”
Several new mining projects proposed for the phosphate district, including an extension of the South Pasture Mine by Illinois-based CF Industries Holdings Inc. and the Ona Mine by Minnesota-based Mosaic Co., the U.S. industry leader in phosphate production and by far the largest presence in Florida.
The Ona Mine, which covers thousands of acres in Hardee County, has been stuck in the permitting process for years, and it was a major reason for the Army Corps’ areawide EIS.
The EIS represents a shift in how the corps addresses phosphate mining. The agency previously reviewed mining projects case by case, preparing environmental assessments for each project. Environmentalists found the case-by-case approach lacking, saying it provided limited oversight of phosphate mining.
“It’s such a huge powerful industry in Florida,” said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network of Florida. “It has never been adequately regulated.”
The Army Corps’ Fellows said his agency opted to go with the EIS in response to environmental concerns.
“As time progressed and there became greater concern about the impact of phosphate mining, these became very large environmental assessments,” Fellows said, calling the assessments “books” on impacts of individual mines.
‘Moonscape’
Companies have been mining phosphate in Florida since the late 1800s, but regulations were limited until the 1970s, said Jim Cooper, an industry watchdog who leads the Placida, Fla.-based environmental group, Protect Our Watersheds.
“It has been only in the last 30 years or so that people have been paying attention,” he said.
Cooper said phosphate-mining oversight has improved safeguards along with a willingness by environmental groups and even local governments to fight mining projects in court. For example, the permit for Mosaic’s South Fort Meade mine extension is on hold pending court review after a challenge from environmental groups.
Environmentalists say they are concerned that pollution from phosphate mining could threaten the Peace River, which flows more than 100 miles from the mining district to the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, and the Myakka River watershed. Ruin the waters, conservationists say, and a regional economy based on fisheries and tourism will shrivel.
Phosphates are strip-mined and separated from sand and clay. As phosphates are taken for processing, sand tailings are stored for reclamation and the clay slurry is pumped to large settling areas. Environmentalists say years of mining have reduced river flows and fish populations.
“It’s like a moonscape,” environmentalist Young said. “The industry has been ripping and tearing at Florida for a very long time. They have already done an amazing amount of damage.”
Environmentalists and area residents also worry about radiation released by phosphate processing, which yields large quantities of phosphogypsum — mainly calcium sulfate — that is stored in stacks that can cover hundreds of acres, according to a U.S. EPA fact sheet. That fact sheet adds that the risks associated with the stacks are “in line with acceptable risk practices.”
Herschel Morris, phosphate operations vice president for CF Industries, takes issue with activists painting his industry as destructive to the environment.
“We’ve been doing a really good job of reducing our water flows, water impacts, environmental impacts,” he said in an interview, adding that government oversight had made the industry more conscious about limiting the effect of mining.
Morris is confident in the industry’s reclamation efforts and new technologies that he said allow miners to return the land to “pristine” condition. He also touted a program to collect and treat rainwater and inject it into the aquifer.
“Everything that we touch, that we mine, we have to reclaim by law,” Morris said, “You might tell me, you know, this is so beautiful, so pristine.”
Industry claims about the quality of reclamation efforts may never convince environmentalists who say strip mining of any type causes permanent damage to the land, its waterways and surrounding ecosystem.
Cooper said he does not want to stop mining altogether but thinks mining companies are being greedy about how much material they want to extract and from where. “What you’ve got is what we consider to be overreaching by the industry,” he said.
Cooper worries about mining creeping closer to farming areas and waterways.
“Let’s come up with a plan that works best so the miners can achieve their profits,” he said. “At the same time, they protect the harbor, make the harbor sustainable.”
‘You can’t grow a crop without it’
Seven of the 12 U.S. phosphate mines are in Florida. There are others in North Carolina, Utah and Idaho, USGS said. Other significant reserves are found in China and parts of Northern Africa, with the largest deposits being in Morocco and western Sahara.
Phosphorus is vital to agriculture.
“You can’t grow a crop without it,” said Kathy Mathers, vice president of public affairs for the Fertilizer Institute, in an interview. “It’s basically a fertilizer that’s in demand around the world. In order for us to continue to grow and feed a growing population, we need to continue using fertilizer.”
Still, advocates and residents who live near phosphate mining operations wonder about the tradeoffs. Another proposed phosphate project in Idaho, Monsanto Co.’s 768-acre Blackfoot Bridge Mine, is also causing environmental concerns, including selenium pollution (Land Letter, March 31).
“We have not opposed development of mines if they do them right,” Marv Hoyt, Idaho director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said in an interview. “They’re close, but they’re not there yet.”
The phosphate industry is increasingly concerned that permit delays and litigation, especially in Florida, is making it too hard for them to mine the resource and meet demand from domestic sources.
Both industry leaders and environmentalists, meanwhile, are pinning their hopes on the Army Corps’ EIS.
“I think it can be a good thing,” CF Industries’ Morris said. “It’s going to better define the effects of phosphate mining and how we impact the environment.”
But environmentalist Cooper is hoping the EIS forces the imposition of tighter regulations aimed at reducing polluted runoff. His wish: “that we’ll have better setbacks from the rivers and streams that are affected.”
“So if there is a problem,” he said, “it does not create an issue that we can’t live with.”
Copyright 2011 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

By MANUEL QUINONES of Greenwire
Published: April 14, 2011

The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a sweeping assessment of the environmental impacts of Florida phosphate mining in response to pleas from environmentalists and
The politicians concerned about the health of their state’s waterways.
The Go to Blog » corps’ environmental impact statement (EIS) will examine the Central Florida Phosphate District, whose 1 million or so acres sprawl across several counties east of Tampa Bay. The area is so rich in phosphates — critical ingredients in fertilizers and pesticides — that experts say it will take decades for mining companies to exhaust it.
“It’s the biggest producing region in the United States,” Stephen Jasinski, a phosphate expert with U.S. Geological Survey, said in an interview.
And assessing the area’s environmental impact figures to be a complicated endeavor, but the Army Corps, which formally announced the study earlier this year, is aiming to complete the study by next summer.
“We have what we call an aggressive schedule,” said project manager John Fellows in an interview. “Many of the other agencies we are working with are skeptical because it is a tremendous endeavor. It’s just a very long process.”
Several new mining projects proposed for the phosphate district, including an extension of the South Pasture Mine by Illinois-based CF Industries Holdings Inc. and the Ona Mine by Minnesota-based Mosaic Co., the U.S. industry leader in phosphate production and by far the largest presence in Florida.
The Ona Mine, which covers thousands of acres in Hardee County, has been stuck in the permitting process for years, and it was a major reason for the Army Corps’ areawide EIS.
The EIS represents a shift in how the corps addresses phosphate mining. The agency previously reviewed mining projects case by case, preparing environmental assessments for each project. Environmentalists found the case-by-case approach lacking, saying it provided limited oversight of phosphate mining.
“It’s such a huge powerful industry in Florida,” said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network of Florida. “It has never been adequately regulated.”
The Army Corps’ Fellows said his agency opted to go with the EIS in response to environmental concerns.
“As time progressed and there became greater concern about the impact of phosphate mining, these became very large environmental assessments,” Fellows said, calling the assessments “books” on impacts of individual mines.
‘Moonscape’
Companies have been mining phosphate in Florida since the late 1800s, but regulations were limited until the 1970s, said Jim Cooper, an industry watchdog who leads the Placida, Fla.-based environmental group, Protect Our Watersheds.
“It has been only in the last 30 years or so that people have been paying attention,” he said.
Cooper said phosphate-mining oversight has improved safeguards along with a willingness by environmental groups and even local governments to fight mining projects in court. For example, the permit for Mosaic’s South Fort Meade mine extension is on hold pending court review after a challenge from environmental groups.
Environmentalists say they are concerned that pollution from phosphate mining could threaten the Peace River, which flows more than 100 miles from the mining district to the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, and the Myakka River watershed. Ruin the waters, conservationists say, and a regional economy based on fisheries and tourism will shrivel.
Phosphates are strip-mined and separated from sand and clay. As phosphates are taken for processing, sand tailings are stored for reclamation and the clay slurry is pumped to large settling areas. Environmentalists say years of mining have reduced river flows and fish populations.
“It’s like a moonscape,” environmentalist Young said. “The industry has been ripping and tearing at Florida for a very long time. They have already done an amazing amount of damage.”
Environmentalists and area residents also worry about radiation released by phosphate processing, which yields large quantities of phosphogypsum — mainly calcium sulfate — that is stored in stacks that can cover hundreds of acres, according to a U.S. EPA fact sheet. That fact sheet adds that the risks associated with the stacks are “in line with acceptable risk practices.”
Herschel Morris, phosphate operations vice president for CF Industries, takes issue with activists painting his industry as destructive to the environment.
“We’ve been doing a really good job of reducing our water flows, water impacts, environmental impacts,” he said in an interview, adding that government oversight had made the industry more conscious about limiting the effect of mining.
Morris is confident in the industry’s reclamation efforts and new technologies that he said allow miners to return the land to “pristine” condition. He also touted a program to collect and treat rainwater and inject it into the aquifer.
“Everything that we touch, that we mine, we have to reclaim by law,” Morris said, “You might tell me, you know, this is so beautiful, so pristine.”
Industry claims about the quality of reclamation efforts may never convince environmentalists who say strip mining of any type causes permanent damage to the land, its waterways and surrounding ecosystem.
Cooper said he does not want to stop mining altogether but thinks mining companies are being greedy about how much material they want to extract and from where. “What you’ve got is what we consider to be overreaching by the industry,” he said.
Cooper worries about mining creeping closer to farming areas and waterways.
“Let’s come up with a plan that works best so the miners can achieve their profits,” he said. “At the same time, they protect the harbor, make the harbor sustainable.”
‘You can’t grow a crop without it’
Seven of the 12 U.S. phosphate mines are in Florida. There are others in North Carolina, Utah and Idaho, USGS said. Other significant reserves are found in China and parts of Northern Africa, with the largest deposits being in Morocco and western Sahara.
Phosphorus is vital to agriculture.
“You can’t grow a crop without it,” said Kathy Mathers, vice president of public affairs for the Fertilizer Institute, in an interview. “It’s basically a fertilizer that’s in demand around the world. In order for us to continue to grow and feed a growing population, we need to continue using fertilizer.”
Still, advocates and residents who live near phosphate mining operations wonder about the tradeoffs. Another proposed phosphate project in Idaho, Monsanto Co.’s 768-acre Blackfoot Bridge Mine, is also causing environmental concerns, including selenium pollution (Land Letter, March 31).
“We have not opposed development of mines if they do them right,” Marv Hoyt, Idaho director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said in an interview. “They’re close, but they’re not there yet.”
The phosphate industry is increasingly concerned that permit delays and litigation, especially in Florida, is making it too hard for them to mine the resource and meet demand from domestic sources.
Both industry leaders and environmentalists, meanwhile, are pinning their hopes on the Army Corps’ EIS.
“I think it can be a good thing,” CF Industries’ Morris said. “It’s going to better define the effects of phosphate mining and how we impact the environment.”
But environmentalist Cooper is hoping the EIS forces the imposition of tighter regulations aimed at reducing polluted runoff. His wish: “that we’ll have better setbacks from the rivers and streams that are affected.”
“So if there is a problem,” he said, “it does not create an issue that we can’t live with.”
Copyright 2011 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.

FL House – Growth Management Bill Would Exempt Phosphate Mining from DRI Process

HB 7129: Growth Management (4/11/2011 PDF)

(t) Any proposed solid mineral mine and any proposed
7767 addition to, expansion of, or change to an existing solid
7768 mineral mine is exempt from this section. Proposed changes to
7769 any previously approved solid mineral mine development-of-
7770 regional-impact development orders having vested rights is not
7771 subject to further review or approval as a development-of-
7772 regional-impact or notice-of-proposed-change review or approval
7773 pursuant to subsection (19), except for those applications
7774 pending as of July 1, 2011, which shall be governed by s.
7775 380.115(2). Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, pursuant to
7776 s. 380.115(1), previously approved solid mineral mine
7777 development-of-regional-impact development orders shall continue
7778 to enjoy vested rights and continue to be effective unless
7779 rescinded by the developer. All local government regulations of
7780 proposed solid mineral mines shall be applicable to any new
7781 solid mineral mine or to any proposed addition to, expansion of,
7782 or change to an existing solid mineral mine.
7783 (u) Notwithstanding any provisions in an agreement with or
7784 among a local government, regional agency, or the state land
7785 planning agency or in a local government’s comprehensive plan to
7786 the contrary, a project no longer subject to development-of-
7787 regional-impact review under revised thresholds is not required
7788 to undergo such review.

Army Corps Solicits Comments, Please Act

This email was sent to me today by environmental activist, John Rehill, of Duette, FL. Note the before/after photographs of Bartow’s Kissengen Springs (embedded in his message)….

Army Corps of Engineers wants phosphate mining comments

The Bradenton Herald 4-12-2011

MANATEE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is soliciting public comments on what should be included in an comprehensive review of phosphate mining’s impacts on Florida.The Corps plans to study mining’s environmental, socio-economic and other impacts in the Central Florida Phosphate District. The district, also known as “Bone Valley,” is a 1.3-million-acre area covering parts of Manatee, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Polk and DeSoto counties.
Comments on the study’s scope can be made by going to the project website, www.phosphateaeis.org. The comment deadline is April 25.
Court to take second look at Mosaic permit
MANATEE — A U.S. District Court will take a second look at whether the Mosaic Company should be allowed to proceed with a 7,600-acre phosphate mining project in Hardee County.
That’s because a federal appeals court ruled Friday the district court should not have issued a preliminary injunction on the project back in July, and should take another 90 days to review a permit issued to Mosaic by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Three environmental groups, including Manasota-88 and the nationwide Sierra Club, had filed suit against the Corps and Mosaic contending the permit did not comply with the federal Clean Water Act and would damage 534 wetland acres, 26 open-water acres and 10-plus miles of streams.
Mosaic on Monday praised the appellate court’s decision to vacate the injunction as a “timely ruling,” while attorney Eric Huber of the Sierra Club said his group was “glad” the permit will be stayed for another 90 days. Meanwhile, Mosaic continues to mine 200 acres of the Hardee County site under a settlement agreement reached with the environmental groups that involves protection of 40 key acres that encompass 14.3 acres of wetlands.
The Hardee County project, known as the South Fort Meade mine, is of regional concern both because of the hundreds of jobs provided by Mosaic Co., and the pivotal environmental role of the Peace River and its tributaries that are impacted by the mining project.

http://www.phosphateaeis.org/

For those of you who wish to protect our water source, our estuaries, our rivers, wetlands and migration trails from strip-mining and the toxic environment left in it’s wake, please read this and respond by leaving a comment at the website above. If we don’t who will?

Of the many hundreds of thousands of acres that have been mined in central Florida, under 20% has experienced any form of reclamation. A Wetland is like “coral,” they are a thousand years in the making. They are a living breathing essential part of one of earths vital functions. That is to recharge our ecosystem’s ground water by filtering and percolating surface water to where it is stored for our drinking pleasures, in the aquifer. They recharge our streams, make water available for trees and habitat for migrating animals. They can only be destroyed by man they can’t be created. Any effort to do so is cosmetic at best and to be told otherwise is an insult to our intelligence. We have lost thousands of acres of wetland to phosphate mining. We don’t have that many left.

Water, the most critical element to our quality of life, is in peril and Mosaic is perched to prey on what’s left. Their sites are set on the Peace River watershed, a water source for almost 1 million people. This is not mentioned in the above article. It also doesn’t mention the river is a major source of fresh water to Charlotte Harbor, an important fishing and recreational area that also provides nursery habitat for numerous commercial and recreational fish and shellfish, and shelters species such as the West Indian manatee. The article neglects to say the headwaters also feed an estuary of national significance under the National Estuary Program and it is to be protected. That is because The Army Corp Of Engineers and SWIFTMUD have neglected to live up to that obligation and have only rubber stamped every permit that has been put before them when it came to Mosaic.

If we do not step up now and insist ACOE deny any further abuse to this last available resource of fresh water, who will?.

Mosaic is riding into this disaster on a horse called “JOBS.” I will remind you, Mosaics employs fewer workers per acre than any other occupation. Less than 3,000 employees at it’s best, on land the size of some counties. The math works out at about one worker for every 250 acres. Even national parks beat that.

Below is a park that once existed, but today is gone, history, no sign of existence, swallowed up from mining. Florida has lost many of these could-be recreational areas, recharging our economy or maybe preventing what has happened to it. But there is nothing but barren ruins.

I beg you, STOP mosaic from destroying the last bit of what Florida is. The estimated cost to the land that lay neglected is tens of billions of dollars and we are stuck with the bill. How can we get rid of our Teachers and let this GIANT corporation stick us with dead dirt and a future of peril?

I have included a list below of effects caused by phosphate mining incase one needs a subject to focus on, titled “False Fate” Please, Please, Please help us out. It will only take a few minutes.

At left, Kissengen Spring, located four miles southeast of Bartow, was a popular recreational area. It stopped flowing in 1950 due to over pumping of the aquifer in the region, largely by the phosphate industry. When the spring flowed, it discharged about 20 million gallons of water daily into a spring pool from a 17-foot deep cavern. Today the spring basin is overgrown with native and invasive plants and there’s little evidence of its former glory. Overuse of groundwater by industry, agriculture and residents in the upper and lower basins continues to cause problems in the Peace River watershed.

‘false-fate’
What does “Phosphate” mining do?
Here are some of the affects.

1- It destroys wetlands
2- It destroys stream and river water quality
3- It fractures the 10,000 year old “hardpan”
4- It destroys megatons of CO2 consuming foliage
5- It releases “Radon Gas”
6- It concentrates “uranium”
7- It drawls down the aquifer
8- It’s “runoff” overburdens estuaries
9- It’s repressive to county economic growth
10- It destroys old-growth trees
11- It’s machinery contaminates the aquifer
12- It strips the top-soil of all nutrients
13- It contributes to “sinkholes”
14- It uses huge amounts of fuel
15- It uses huge amounts of water
16- It tyrannizes surrounding property owners
17- It reduces surrounding property value
18- It employes fewer employees, per acre, than almost all other occupations
19- It corrupts local politicians
20- It poisons wells
21- It dries-up wells
22- It pollutes the air with “volatile” dust
23- It buries gopher tortoises
24- It destroys wild animal migration corridors
25- It destroys all of the native animal food-stock habitat
26- It destroys all of the grounds’ micro-flora
27- It promotes the growth of invasive plant species
28- It leaves the land to very limitable uses
29- It stores hundreds of billions of gallons of extremely toxic water behind hurricane vulnerable dikes
30- It exposes arsenic into the environment
31- It converts hectors of farmland into pits of barren topography
32- It dries up surrounding ponds
33- It uses tax revenue, externalizing operational cost to the public
34- It stinks

“Don’t let our worst habits
become our habitat”
jr.

S. Ft. Meade Mine Permit Awaits Final Ruling in Jax Fed Court

For Immediate Release – April 11, 2011

Contacts:
PERCY ANGELO, SIERRA CLUB FLORIDA PHOSPHATE COMMITTEE, (941) 698-1519
Eric E. Huber, Sierra Club Senior Staff Attorney, (303) 449-5595 ext. 101
FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS STAYS MOSAIC’S
SOUTH FORT MEADE EXTENSION PERMIT FOR 90 DAYS WHILE SENDING
IT BACK TO DISTRICT COURT FOR FINAL RULING

Atlanta, GA — On April 8, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated a
preliminary injunction on Mosaic’s phosphate mine known as the South Fort Meade
extension. The Court of Appeals found a procedural flaw in the injunction that had been
entered July 30, 2010 by the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville based on violations of the
Clean Water Act. However, the appellate court continued the stay of Mosaic’s permit for
another 90 days and sent the matter back to the district court to make a final ruling in that
time.
Specifically the appellate court’s three page decision found that the district court
should not have remanded the permit to the U.S. Corps of Engineers when it issued its
injunction. The appellate court did not rule on the merits of the permit, i.e. it did not decide
whether the permit was legal or that it complied with the law. “We are disappointed that the
court of appeals did not affirm the injunction in its entirety,” said Eric Huber, Sierra Club
Senior Staff Attorney. “But we are glad that it stayed the permit for another 90 days which
protects the wetlands while we have another hearing in Jacksonville.”
Mosaic’s strip mine would cover 7,687 acres and destroy 534 acres of wetlands, 26
acres of open water and more than 10 miles of streams associated with the headwaters of
the Peace River and other streams. Phosphate strip mining entirely removes the land surface
down 50 or more feet, destroying wetlands and significantly impacting ground and surface
water flow. While surface reclamation occurs in theory, it is substantially delayed, often
unsuccessful and does not repair groundwater impacts. This disruption in flows affects water
quality and quantity in the watersheds involved, including the Peace River which flows into
the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, a federally recognized “aquatic resource of national
importance”.
The parties reached a partial settlement last November allowing mining to proceed at
Phase 1 of the mine, comprising some 200 acres. In return, Mosaic agreed to protect 14.3
acres of environmentally desirable and difficult to replace “bayhead wetlands,” as well as
surrounding uplands, in the upper Peace River watershed, for a total of 40.9 additional acres
protected from mining.

For more information visit www.ourphosphaterisk.com, and www.protectpeaceriver.org.

S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension – injunction overturned

PLYMOUTH, Minn., April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ —

The Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has vacated a preliminary injunction previously granted by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida regarding Mosaic’s South Fort Meade mine. The preliminary injunction had prevented reliance on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the mining of wetlands in an extension of Mosaic’s South Fort Meade, Florida, phosphate rock mine in Hardee County. The Eleventh Circuit also set aside the District Court’s remand of the permit to the Corps of Engineers.

In vacating the preliminary injunction, the Court remanded the case to the District Court for a decision on the merits to determine, after a review of the full administrative record, whether the Corps came to a rational permit decision to be analyzed through the deferential lens mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act. The Court of Appeals also directed the District Court to stay the effectiveness of the permit for 90 days to permit the District Court to make a decision on the merits based on this deferential standard.

“We appreciate this timely ruling and are pleased with the outcome and directions provided by the Eleventh Circuit,” said Richard Mack, Mosaic’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “We look forward to presenting our case to the District Court as mandated by the Court of Appeals. The Hardee County Extension permit was an exhaustive, multi-year effort that resulted in the most extensively reviewed and environmentally protective phosphate mining permit in Florida’s history. We expect that our ongoing operations at South Fort Meade, together with other mitigation efforts, will be sufficient to support our finished phosphate production for the 90-day period set forth by the Court of Appeals.”

Florida Trend Interactive Map – Top 10 FL landowners

This is worth checking out….
http://www.floridatrend.com/wide_article.asp?aID=54802

Florida’s Top 10 Private Landowners
1. Plum Creek Timber
2. St. Joe Co.
3. Foley Timber
4. Rayonier
5. Lykes Bros.
6. Deseret Ranches of Florida
7. Mosaic
8. Bascom Southern
9. Florida Crystals
10. U.S. Sugar

Interactive Map: Florida’s Top 10 Private Landowners & Federal and State Holdings

Theresa Woody
Senior Policy Analyst
South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force
11200 SW 8th Street OE 148
Miami, FL 33199

305-348-1833 office
786-385-0075 cell

________________________________________
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Adam Cummings’ comments 2011 EPA Conference: Phosphate Mining and the Environment

Adam Cummings’ comments 2011 EPA Conference: Phosphate Mining and the Environment

http://www.protectpeaceriver.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Altman-Recommended-Order.pdf

This document represents my recollection of my comments at the March 28 & 29 EPA Conference in Punta Gorda Florida on the “State of the Science on Phosphate Mining and the Environment” which I am submitting to become part of the public record as requested by the meeting facilitator.

As to your first question, “Is mining affecting the flows of the Peace River?” we do not need to speculate. Charlotte County proved that river flows were affected in court. (Upon returning home I checked my old documents and found on page 72 in paragraph 163 of the attached administrative law judge’s recommended order, “It is also clear that phosphate mining has historically contributed to some extent to decreased stream flow in the Peace River.” Although this order resulted in the Secretary of DEP denying the permit, a later application was approved due to an injudicious settlement by Charlotte County.)

As to your second question, “Is reclamation successful?” During earlier legal proceedings IMC chose 20 reclamation sites and Charlotte County chose 20 reclamation sites for evaluation. Of these 40 long standing reclamation sites, 39 of them no longer met DEP standards. Therefore the reclamation at the time was clearly unsuccessful. The researcher who spoke earlier clearly had it right that unless you can correct the problems in the various strata of the surficial aquifer, you will never get the reclamation right.

Furthermore, one of the things I did notice during this conference was that the economists were looking at later land uses in determining net present value and other economic impacts. In fact there appears to be ever increasing interest in urbanization of reclaimed phosphate lands as this use provided the highest economic return. Unfortunately it appears that the environmental impacts of these later land uses are not being measured as a part of the same study. Either disregard the economic benefit of any later development or include the environmental impacts that will result from that development.

The more prudent course is to consider both. As a County Commissioner I learned that impervious surface is a very important issue when trying to meet TMDL’s. As the percentage of impervious surface in my community increases, the rate of runoff increases which in turn increases the variability of freshwater flows into the estuary. It also increases the pollutant loads since there is less residence time for plants to take up nutrients and less opportunity for other pollutants to be filtered. Obviously this creates water quantity and quality problems. A typical built out urban service area in Southwest Florida can have approximately 50% impervious surface. We have been informed here that a typical successfully reclaimed mine site has about 40% impervious surface in the form of clay settling ponds. If the remaining 60% of the land becomes urbanized with 50% impervious surface that adds an additional 30% impervious surface to the existing 40% impervious surface. If we find ourselves with tens of thousands of acres at 70% impervious surface it is hard to imagine a scenario where we will have a healthy downstream estuary.

Which brings me to my final point. I have been an integral part of this conversation for over 16 years. This has always been viewed as a two step process. We want an AEIS to learn all we can so we can do a better job of managing these impacts. However we have always recognized the need to follow the AEIS with a natural resource management plan. This industry needs to have an overall regulatory plan just like every community must have a comprehensive plan. Industry representatives have told us all for years that phosphate mining is a finite industry in this state. The day will come when all of the economically feasible phosphate has been mined and they will be gone. I want to know that I will still have a healthy vibrant estuary when they are gone. Only with that healthy vibrant estuary can my community have a healthy vibrant economy. We need to have the same assurance from this industry that we are assured from every other economic activity in this state. A successful natural resource management plan including maps of what is and isn’t on the table for consideration of mining permits and the terms under which they would be considered appears to be the most effective way to achieve that public necessity.

At this point I would like to add an additional observation I failed to mention during my comments. Charlotte County and our neighbors spent over $12 million and years of effort to research this issue, improve regulation and enforce existing laws. We gained a great deal of improvements in the management of this resource and the impacts the mining created. Unfortunately after a shift in political winds caused Charlotte County to stop challenging these permits, the very next permit application in the form of the South Fort Meade mine extension undid virtually all of the gains we made. The actions of the industry, the state and the local government stakeholders in this matter have made it perfectly clear that they will make no improvements that are not forced upon them. If the federal government does not enforce the clean water act and other environmental requirements, no one will. We need the EPA and the Army Corp to step up to the plate and ensure the health of this national estuary and our local economy as a result.

Thank you.

Regards,
Adam Cummings
Former Charlotte County Commissioner