Judge won’t delay phosphate mining halt

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:33 AM
Judge won’t delay phosphate mining halt

http://www.capitalpress.com/newest/mp-mosaic-legal-update-011312

A federal judge has refused to postpone an order that has blocked extraction from a major U.S. phosphate mine.

The Mosaic Co.’s South Fort Meade mine, which represents 20 percent of U.S. phosphate production, was shut down earlier this year by a federal judge in Florida.

Environmentalists groups claim the federal government improperly approved an extension of the mine without a sufficiently thorough environmental analysis.

In July, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams granted a preliminary injunction against rock extraction at the mine because environmentalists were likely to prevail in the lawsuit.

Mosaic challenged that decision in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked the judge to delay the injunction while the appellate process was underway.

Adams refused their request on Jan. 3, ruling the company had failed to demonstrate such a stay was warranted. The 11th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on March 6.

Mosaic Cuts Phosphate Production

The Mosaic Co.    said Wednesday it is cutting phosphate production for the short term as cautious North American farmers have lowered demand for the fertilizer.

Plymouth-based Mosaic (NYSE: MOS) said in a news release that it is cutting phosphate production by as much as 250,000 tons through the end of March.

“The current spot prices in this market do not reflect our outlook for the business, nor do we think they are sustainable,” Mosaic CEO Jim Prokopanko said in a statement.

But Prokopanko said he still expects above-average demand for phosphate in 2012.

“We are confident strong farmer economics and agricultural fundamentals will ultimately prevail over the near-term cautious sentiment,” he said.

The Mosaic Co. said Wednesday it is cutting phosphate production for the short term as cautious North American farmers have lowered demand for the fertilizer.

Plymouth-based Mosaic (NYSE: MOS) said in a news release that it is cutting phosphate production by as much as 250,000 tons through the end of March.

“The current spot prices in this market do not reflect our outlook for the business, nor do we think they are sustainable,” Mosaic CEO Jim Prokopanko said in a statement.

But Prokopanko said he still expects above-average demand for phosphate in 2012.

“We are confident strong farmer economics and agricultural fundamentals will ultimately prevail over the near-term cautious sentiment,” he said.

Financial Mismanagement Hits Hardee County

This article by John Rehill of The Bradenton Times casts aspersions on Hardee County’s Economic Development Authority – the same entity that agreed to $42 million in mitigation funds for a permit to mine the S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension.

How to Take Down a Town
The Bradenton Times
Published Friday, December 16, 2011 2:20 am
by John Rehill
The Background:

Hardee County is located in central Florida and has a modest population of 28,000. It is an agriculture community that depends heavily on phosphate mining revenue. Hardee’s per capita income is half of that of the state’s average and over 20 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. Hardscrabble is the first word that comes to mind, when describing the area. Such a profile is not uncommon in counties where mining is prevalent. Among all of the Florida counties that suffered from a lack of economic growth, those most troubled are mining counties.

Bill Lambert, Director at Hardee County Economic Development knows this. So when Hardee County made its last agreement permitting Mosaic Phosphate to mine 11 thousand acres within its borders, he requested the company make-up the economic hardships consequential to their operations. Mining supports fewer jobs and produces less revenue per acre for the county then other industries, so he proposed Mosaic offer the county incentive capital to put into an economic stewardship fund for compensation. They accepted.

That project was the South Ft. Meade mine, and the amount agreed upon was $42 million over a 10-year period, if the county permitted the mining operation. They did. Hardee County accepted Mosaic’s first installment of $5 million, which they deposited into the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) account.

An IDA is a declaration by the local government to recognize an independent government body for the development and financing of projects within the description of the said boundaries. In Hardee’s case, their IDA was deeded and delegated the responsibility of owning, managing and marketing the Hardee Commerce Park, as just one of their projects.

The IDA’s officers are responsible for reporting transactions, annual financial reports and for fulfulling all of the provisions required by The Sunshine Law, as is any local government in Florida. It is mandatory for the IDA to assemble an authority board. Those board members were appointed by the Hardee Board Of County Commissioners (BOCC).

In Hardee County, the local authorities and county agencies that oversee the public’s trust are the BOCC, the IDA, the EDC (Economic Development Council) and the EDA (Economic Development Authority). State law requires all to have outside audits and quarterly/annual reports for accountability.

The Players:

Our story starts with a concerned citizen. His name is Hank Kuhlman, a UPS pilot and resident of Hardee County, living in Ft. Green. He and a friend, Frank Kirkland, frequent the county commission meetings. Their purpose: to protect their property from the rubber-stamping of permits for mining, landfills and industrial parks. Kuhlman and Kirkland claim that Hardee Commissioners overwhelmingly favor the interest of those applicants over the interest of their residents.

Kuhlman read a report announcing that Hardee County was looking at a solid waste project that claimed to turn all of the county’s trash into clean fuel, eliminating the need for a landfill. The project was to be built in the west part of the county where Kuhlman lived. Mr. Kuhlman wanted the full story, so he and Kirkland went to the public meeting where the promoters were selling their idea to the county commission.

The company: Waste Generated Products (WGP), and two of their representatives, president, Guy Wardlaw and treasure, Rick Fishman, were at the meeting answering questions, and making claims Kuhlman thought were outlandish. The two men alleged their technology could transfer hundreds of tons of unsorted garbage a day into jet fuel, gasoline and diesel fuel. They claimed they could operate their system off the fuel it creates, while running generators to sell power to the electric company. They marketed the process as “emission free” and at absolutely no expense to the county.

This was only the third reported time the WGP reps met with county officials. The first was Oct. 7, of 2011, when they proposed their plan. The second, on Oct. 14, was when they briefed the commission on how their operation worked. Then at this Oct. 20 meeting, WGP had returned to close the deal. EDA Chairman Bill Lambert, sat with the two WGP reps during the meeting, encouraging the board to go forward by signing a memorandum of understanding, committing the county to co-sign a $40 million loan to build the plant.

Kuhlman and Kirkland wondered, whether this three week romance might turn into a $40 million liability. According to the proposed deal, WGP would purchase a “financial instrument” or “insurance bond” to protect the county from any liability.

I was familiar with these instruments, aka “derivatives,” as well as the “gasification” process technology WGP would use to perform their claims, Kuhlman and Kirkland contacted me to see if I could help them find out the story. They thought WGP was a shell company and that it had just incorporated in Florida, May 17, 2011. They couldn’t find any history that coincided with any of the claims WGP made at the meetings and pointed me to county posted videos to those meetings on the internet. I reviewed all three (in keyword – type “waste generated products”)

There are various legitimate claims to the variety of sciences supporting this process, but I know of none that equal the assertions both WGP reps made in the videos, which clearly would be global game changers. I also didn’t find any of the projects both men claimed they currently had in operation in New York, Michigan and London. I called the Massena N.Y. (the town WGP reps claimed to have operations) Solid Waste manager to see how it was working out for them. They had never heard of WGP.

In WGP’s Hardee proposal, they referenced LBO Capital Corp. and U.S. Quest as “strategic partners.” I couldn’t find anything on U.S. Quest, (who reps proposed would handle their licensing), and LBO Capital was a non-active stock that had a $.02 value and had been flat for years (no action). I was wondering, are the only ones vetting these guys the aforementioned two local citizens and one local reporter? Then I remembered that the IDA treasurer, Michael Douglas Manley, had just been arrested for misappropriations of funds. So surely the authorities were looking at the commission and would soon know about WGP, right? Like many things, the answers are never quite that simple.

I decided to go to Venice, FL, where WGP’s “Global Headquarters” is supposedly located. At their address, there was a duplex. The door on one side had a 12″ sign: “WGP, Global Headquarters.” The other side was Pro-Health Products, but no sign of anyone there. I knocked and a man who identified himself as Guy Wardlaw (the same WGP rep in the video) stood in the doorway and asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a reporter for TBT and was doing a story on alternative solid waste disposal methods, heard about his company and wanted to ask a few questions. Each question I asked was answered with a “go to our website.” I asked if I could come inside to chat and after a reluctant pause, he let me in.

Inside it was completely dark with no sign of electricity and he walked me to a nondescript backroom that had some windows and two chairs. I asked for some brochures or any printed info to describe their process. Wardlaw said he didn’t have any and all that wasn’t “proprietary information” was on the website. He told me they do work for the government and there were things he couldn’t tell me. He added that some of their technology was used by Boeing, the U.S. Navy and Department of Homeland Security.

I asked about other projects in other towns or cities, and Wardlaw responded, “We have ongoing projects in Oklahoma, Texas and in Michigan.” He never mentioned Hardee County or the town of Massena. I asked, ” How much fuel can you get from garbage?” He replied after some consideration, “We can get a gallon of fuel from 10 lbs. of garbage.” I knew that was a bogus claim and that something wasn’t quite right, so it was time for me to leave.

I kept looking for anything that could validate what I had heard on the videos or at their office, and decided to call Hardee’s Bill Lambert, the EDA Chairman who was also once administrator and commissioner. Lambert was on a couple of the videos telling the commission how wonderful this project could be for the county.

When speaking with Lambert, I mentioned that I had contacted Massena and that they claimed to have never heard of WGP. I asked him if he had vetted the company, adding that I had and couldn’t find anything. He said not to worry, that all of that would be done before anything was signed. Lambert didn’t know that while I was sitting there on the phone, I was looking at copies of the signed documents. They were signed by Lexton H. Albritton, Hardee County Manager and EDA Administrator, and by Minor L. Bryant, chairman of the board of county commissioners.

Lambert also didn’t know that I had in front of me a copy of a Nov. 9, 2011 certified letter from the Office of the Governor’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, in Tallahassee, stating:

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee is in receipt of correspondence and documentation from a concerned citizen of Hardee County, regarding: (1) the Hardee County Industrial Development Authority (Authority) and (2) the County’s Development Agreement with Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC (LLC), dated August 14, 2008, in which the “matching payment” from the LLC is being paid directly to the Authority.

The referred to “authority” has been in existence since 1996 and had never submitted a financial report or an audit. This is the authority that received Mosaic’s $5 million check. It is unlikely the letter was connected to Manley’s arrest, but feasibly may later be connected through related issues.

Kuhlman had prepared 30 questions to be submitted on paper and three orally for the December 1, commission meeting. His flying schedule changed, so his wife Dorothy attended, taking his place. After asking the questions, she then passed a copy of the Legislative Auditing Committee document to the commissioners.

Not all of Hardee’s officials must have seen the letter, addressed to Minor L Bryant, BOCC Chairman and Ken Evers, BOCC Attorney, because when the Honorable Hugh Bradley, Clerk of the County Court, viewed it, he announced he was appalled to hear of such conduct and called it “criminal,” adding that he would have nothing to do with the Director’s conduct. He vowed to hold back the next IDA check from the county, for the amount of $530,000, until the matter was settled.

County attorney Kenneth B Evers, blew it off, saying that was just an oversight. Evers is not only the attorney for the county, but also for the commission, the IDA, and the EDC. Rick Justice is now the chair for the IDA and sits on the board of the EDC. Joe Albritton is the chair at the EDC and sits on the board of the IDA. Mike Manley was the treasurer for both the IDA and the EDC, but after his arrest on November 14, they had to shake things up a bit. Authorities said his charges for misappropriation of funds was of an amount exceeding half a million bucks.

It appears that between Lambert, Evers, Albritton, Justice and Manley, there was tight control over Hardee County’s money and very little oversight. There is also a holding company, “First Hardee Holdings” that connect Lambert, Justice and Manley outside the county government, that certainly could use a closer look. I imagine authorities will be taking a closer look at everything including the IDA’s recent $2 million dollar start-up investment deal with David Brown’s “Lifesync Technologies.” Lambert recently endorsed using IDA funds. The Authority was funding a company that Mr. Albritton has ties to.

This is so complex, so convoluted and so under the radar, that we can only hope state and federal authorities do their job and take a fine-toothed comb to this tangled mess. We can thank concerned citizens, Kuhlman and Kirkland, whose suspicions might save the residents of Hardee County millions dollars by putting the brakes on another rubber stamp, destined to fail.

What could have happened had this ill fated venture not have been exposed? WGP surely would have failed; the Wardlaw brothers, Guy and David, Rick Fishman and James E. Johnson (the only four that make up WGP) could have spent only a fraction of the money before WGP went belly up and disappeared. The county WOULD have been stuck with the $40 million note, (the instrument would have been challenged – canceled, and then the co-signer would pay). Municipalities are easy and prime targets for these derivatives.

Why are banks so willing to accommodate these seemingly designed-to-fail deals?

Prime example of the answer: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – 40 years ago Pennsylvania’s capitol borrowed $12.3 million to build an incinerator that would generate electricity. The first plan failed. Most of the money was spent, but the debt the city incurred was reason enough to continue the pursuit to make it work. The bank is more than happy to refinance with a derivative called, “Interest Rate Swaps” (unregulated and capable of skyrocketing).

The bank knows to cover this new, larger, more expensive note, the legislators only need to raise the millage rate on their residents – and by a fairly unoticeable amount in some cases. More projects are adopted, the new money blankets the first debacle, (as in Harrisburg’s case) and the incinerator again continues to fall short of completion. Then another IRS is needed, much like a ponzi scheme. It is not uncommon and many municipalities around the country are held hostage to this practice.

Over the years, Harrisburg renewed their IRS’s 11 times, and a debt that started as a $12.3 million loan is now $300 million, and that is why it’s said Harrisburg has the most expensive incinerator in America. The city’s recent bankruptcy attempt was denied.

Jefferson County, Alabama, did the same thing, borrowing $250 million to start a sewer project that began in 1979. That influx of funds spawned many other projects, feeding jobs to the cronies and friends of legislators, soaking up the money flow. Jefferson County was forced over the past 25 years to re-up their IRS’s over 20 times and now that debt has climbed to $5 BILLION! In those years, sewer bills have risen from $14 a month to over $100. They have already filed bankruptcy and 11 of their commissioners have gone to jail for their malfeasance. Auditors say 2 of the $5 billion are fees and interest. These municipal derivatives are a huge profit center for the banks, and this is also why so many cities are facing default and foreclosure.

For Bill Lambert and Ken Evers to ignore the lack of credentials, knowledge, experience and traceable background that representatives for WGP displayed, and not be alarmed or even ashamed, is egregious and irresponsible. To go forward with the idea of any agreement for the amount of $40 thousand let alone $40 million, with the knowledge they now have, would be criminal and indictable. There is no “bond,” no “policy,” that can protect Hardee County officials from such obvious mistakes. Both Lambert’s and Evers’ actions should be investigated to determine whether there was more than just incompetence at work.

Slime Billboards on 1-75

Water Coalition places ‘slime’ billboards along I-75
By Virginia Chamlee | 12.07.11 | 12:48 pm

Slime Billboard
One of the Florida Water Coalition billboards (Pic by Florida Water Coalition)
The Florida Water Coalition, a group that recently filed a petition against the state’s recently drafted water rules, has put up two billboards in an effort to “educate Floridians and visitors about the state’s widespread algae pollution problem and to urge citizens to let their government representatives know that they don’t want more delays – they want clear limits on the amount of sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution in our public waters.”
Both billboards contain a photograph of a large-scale algal bloom in Fanning Springs, an area that was once clear all the way to its sandy bottom. According to the Coalition, “development and large-scale agricultural operations in the spring’s watershed have spewed pollution underground into the aquifer, and it bubbles up in the spring, altering the water chemistry and triggering nauseating toxic algae outbreaks.”
One billboard is loicated on Interstate 75 between Gainesville and Ocala, the other is also on I-75, just south of Lake City.
The Florida Water Coalition — which is comprised of the Florida Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the St. Johns Riverkeeper — recently filed a petition against the state’s “numeric nutrient criteria,” a set of standards they argue aren’t strong enough to ward off nutrient pollution in waterways.
The coalition has argued that the standards are so poor, in fact, that they “would actually be less protective than no numeric nutrient standards.” Many environmentalists have argued that the government dragged its feet in producing the standards, and is now favoring the polluters over the public.
“The toxic algae that comes from sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff is a public health threat. It is poisoning our drinking water and making people sick,” said Monica Reimer, an attorney with Earthjustice, in a press release. “Among other things, it causes respiratory problems, stomach problems, and rashes.”
Another problem, says Reimer, is that the pollution is harming businesses across the state.
“We depend on tourists to run our economy,” Reimer said. “Look at the reality on our billboards. This is obviously not good for Florida tourism. This affects jobs.”
According to a press release, the funding for the billboards came from grassroots activists. Though there are currently only two billboards erected, the Coalition has hopes it can spread its message across the state as the campaign expands.

Tampa crane operator seriously injured after dock collapses under him

Tampa crane operator seriously injured after dock collapses under him
By Stephanie Wang, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Nov 08, 2011 08:08 PM

Read article here
________________________________________

A crane operator was seriously injured Tuesday evening after a dock under the machinery collapsed, authorities said.

Fire-rescue crews found a 40-foot-tall rail crane, used to load phosphate onto ships, tilted on its side over the water at the CSX Phosphate Terminal, 3701 Causeway Blvd.
The crane operator was taken to Tampa General Hospital with multiple injuries, where he was listed in serious condition. Tampa Fire Rescue officials did not release his name.
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the collapse.

[Last modified: Nov 08, 2011 08:08 PM]

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Mosaic Profits on Rising Food Prices

Rising Food Prices Will Boost Debt-Free Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) to New Highs

OCTOBER 31, 2011

BY JACK BARNES, Global Macro Trends Specialist, Money Morning

 http://moneymorning.com/2011/10/31/rising-food-prices-will-boost-debt-free-mosaic-co-nyse-mos-to-new-highs/

With so many companies – and countries – choking on the combination of slow growth and massive debt, investors are finding that there’s a definite formula for success.

You need to look for companies that have healthy cash reserves, a global presence in a high-growth sector, and whose shares are available at a bargain price. 

I’ve already found one to help get you started.

I’m talking about The Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS), an agricultural leader that’s positioned to benefit from the worldwide run-up in food prices.

Mosaic is the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate and potash, two of the primary nutrients required to grow food crops. 

One of the main reasons I really like Mosaic is that it has enough cash – $3 billion – to fund its own growth. It doesn’t need to borrow from banks to continue generating profits from crop-nutrient sales.

That’s a profitable niche, since global food prices are expected to increase 4% next year, and could climb higher on supply squeezes. Increasing food demand and poor harvests have caused sharp climbs in the price of corn and other crops. And those price increases have translated into higher prices for pork, beef and poultry. The profitable agricultural industry outlook is enticing farmers to grow more, and will create a steady profit stream for Mosaic. 

Mosaic’s shares recently hit a 52-week low; but don’t let that price dip fool you: While the market is currently pricing Mosaic for a significant slowdown in earnings, the reality is far brighter. It’s time to buy The Mosaic Co. (**). 

The Mosaic Co.

The Mosaic Co. is a young company with old roots, formed in 2004 from a merger of two giants in the crop nutrition businesses. This combination united profitable phosphate miner IMC Global Inc. with Cargill Inc., one of the world’s top producers of phosphate and nitrogen fertilizer.

The resulting Mosaic Co. has grown into the largest producer of concentrated phosphates, and one of the leading providers of potash crop nutrients. 

Mosaic’s global reach – it has operations in 10 countries and serves markets in more than 30 nations – has allowed it to accurately estimate and provide for global product demand. It’s this excellent business execution that helped Mosaic become debt-free, and then to amass a cash hoard of more than $3 billion. 

This helped the company post an excellent first quarter for fiscal 2012, the second-highest-grossing first quarter in its history. The company’s net earnings for the quarter ended Aug. 31 were 77% higher than the same quarter last year. Earnings per diluted share were $1.17, a 75% gain from 67 cents per diluted share in the first quarter 2011. 

Mosaic’s revenue now totals more than $10.3 billion in the trailing twelve months.

Fitch Ratings Inc. recently estimated Mosaic will earn $3.7 billion in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) in fiscal 2012, a 19% gain from the $3.1 billion earned last year. 

The stock is down 18% so far this year, but this has more to do with Cargill unloading its core investment in the company – essentially dumping a big block of shares on the market.

Mosaic’s stock has rebounded from a 52-week low of $44.86 earlier this month to close at $61.96 Friday. 

At this price it’s still a bargain, giving us a chance to buy at extremely favorable prices. 

The company has a market capitalization of $20 billion. The stock is trading at a Price/Earnings (P/E) ratio of less than 8, making it cheap in comparison to the overall market’s P/E ratio of about 13 to 15.

Mosaic’s Profits Up, but Costs Higher

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS September 23, 2011, 11:57AM ET

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9PUAOM00.htm
Mosaic posts higher profit, but misses view
Fertilizer giant Mosaic Co. said Friday that stronger sales in its fiscal first quarter pushed its profit up by 77 percent.

The earnings nevertheless missed Wall Street expectations and the company’s shares fell $2.84, or 4.7 percent, to $57.27 in midday trading.

For the three months ended Aug. 31, the company reported net income of $526 million, or $1.17 per share, up from $297.7 million, or 67 cents per share, a year ago.

On average, analysts expected earnings of $1.25 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose to $3.08 billion from $2.19 billion. Analysts expected lower revenue of $2.85 billion.

Gross margin as a percentage of sales rose to 27.5 percent from 23.1 percent. The company said the increase was driven by improvements in phosphates and potash margins. Operating earnings rose to $729.6 million, up from $410.3 million.

Citi analyst P.J. Juvekar noted that it’s possible that “ongoing legal issues” and the shutdown of a phosphate rock mine may have increased the Mosaic’s costs in the quarter. But Juvekar also noted that the market remains favorable for Mosaic, given the tight corn and soybean markets and elevated grain prices that are pushing up farmer incomes.

Earlier this week, Standard & Poor’s said that it will add Mosaic, based in Plymouth, Minn., to the S&P 500 index after the market closes Friday. One requirement for entering the S&P index is that at least half of a company’s shares must be available to the public.

On Thursday, Mosaic said one of its shareholders, the Margaret A. Cargill Trust, plans to sell 18 million of its 42 million shares of the company, with an option to sell another 2.7 million shares if the sale goes well. The move is the latest step in unwinding ties between Mosaic and Cargill Inc.

FL Governor appoints Mosaic executive to Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute

If there was ever any doubt about the scientific objectivity of the Florida Phosphate Research Institute, then at least their intentions are plainly known to all now… Thanks to Governor Scott for clearing that up.

Scott appoints Mosaic executive to Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute

 http://floridaindependent.com/47377/rick-scott-mosaic-fertilizer

 By Virginia Chamlee | 09.13.11 | 4:17 pm

 Gov. Rick Scott today appointed Michael A. Daigle, director of operations planning at Mosaic Fertilizer, to the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute. The appointment marks the latest in a stream of government interaction with the company — Mosaic gave at least $15,000 to Scott’s gubernatorial campaign, and a former Jeb Bush staffer recently went to work for the company.

A phosphate mine in South Fort Meade, owned by Mosaic, was shut down in July due to potentially detrimental environmental impacts. Although the company was initially given the go-ahead from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strip-mine thousands of acres of Florida wetlands, a lawsuit (brought by environmental groups including the Sierra Club) led a judge to halt production at a 700-acre tract of the mine, over fears that the mining activities were damaging two area watersheds.

In July, a U.S. judge extended that injunction — effectively banning the company from expanding production at the mine.

According to its website, the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research was originally created in 1978 as “a state agency to study phosphate issues that impact Florida’s citizens, environment and economy and to be a phosphate information resource.”

Daigle’s term begins today and ends Sept. 30, 2014.

GOP Effort To Block EPA Radiation Surveys In Florida Faces Opposition

Superfund Report – 09/05/2011
GOP Effort To Block EPA Radiation Surveys In Florida Faces Opposition
Posted: September 2, 2011
Environmentalists and a key House Democrat are pushing back against a GOP effort to block EPA from doing aerial surveys that could inform a potentially precedent-setting cleanup of an area in central Florida where the agency fears tens of thousands of people living on former phosphate mines may be exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.
At issue are approximately 10 square miles of such lands near Lakeland, FL, where EPA has taken no cleanup action despite its concerns dating back to the late 1970s over residential radiation. EPA’s concerns, made public by an award-winning series of Inside EPA articles in 2010, have prompted a negative reaction from GOP lawmakers representing the area, who say the fears are overblown.
In February, the lawmakers — including GOP Florida Reps. Dennis Ross, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Richard Nugent and Thomas Rooney — sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in which they take issue with EPA having recently conducted a preliminary aerial survey near the area in question. The survey, which was expected to set the stage for a much more extensive flyover of the area, is considered to be a key early step in a possible cleanup process (Superfund Report, July 11).
Ross, who plans to meet with Jackson in the coming weeks to discuss the issue, is preparing to insert an amendment blocking any additional EPA survey work in the fiscal year 2012 budget bill when it is recalled to the House floor in the coming months. The amendment would block surveys “of any facility in the State of Florida in Polk county or Hillsborough county that is listed in” EPA’s Superfund database, known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) (Superfund Report, Aug. 8).
But the measure may be countered by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), who has raised concerns about the Florida phosphate issue in the past. According to a Capitol Hill source, Markey continues to track the issue and may speak in opposition to the Ross amendment when it comes up on the House floor.
In addition, Florida environmentalists are urging Jackson to reject the demands of the GOP lawmakers. In a July 20 letter, the activists say they “strongly support a fully scientific review of the impacts of phosphate mining, including the aerial radiation surveys which are long overdue.”
The groups, which include the Sierra Club Florida Phosphate Committee, Protect Our Watersheds and People Protecting Peace River, say that in addition to aiding EPA’s Superfund evaluation of the former mining areas, information gleamed from the surveys should be included in the Area-Wide Environmental Impact Statement that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are preparing relative to proposed new phosphate mines in Florida (Superfund Report, Oct. 15).
The activists also take issue with the GOP lawmakers’ assertion that EPA’s preferred cleanup standard for the Florida sites is “arbitrary.” The activists note that the standard, which dictates that concentrations for radium-226 in soil should not exceed 5 picocures per gram (pCi/g) above what naturally occurs in an area, “is a longstanding national standard which has been used at may sites nationwide to evaluate risk.”
“It would be highly improper to apply a different rule for Florida, or to refuse to look at the data because you don’t want to know what it says, which is the underlying premise of the [GOP] letter,” the activists say. Relevant documents are available on Inside EPA.com. (Doc ID: 2374487)
In their letter, the GOP lawmakers complain that “Florida’s real estate market is already under significant duress as a result of the economic downturn” and that “potential actions by EPA stand to impede Florida’s recovery.”
But the activists challenge this assertion, saying that aerial surveys “allow a scientific evaluation of risk and can have the effect of lifting the stigma currently associated with many such sites.”
The GOP congressmen presume “that this is a debate between economics and public health,” the activists continue. “This simply isn’t true. It’s a debate between powerful narrow corporate interests and a broader regional interest in environmental, public and economic health.” — Douglas P. Guarino
© 2000-2011. Inside Washington Publishers

Douglas P. Guarino
Associate Editor
Inside Washington Publishers
(Inside EPA’s Superfund Report)
1919 South Eads Street, Suite 201
Arlington, VA 22202
703-416-8518
fax:703-416-8543
mailto:dguarino@iwpnews.com

Mosaic Appeals District Court Injunction on S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension

Sounds like they have a strong case for a stay.

________________________________________
From: Dennis Mader [mailto:protectpeaceriver@gmail.com] Sent: Thursday, August 25, 2011 9:08 PM
Hello Everyone:

As you may or may not know, Mosaic filed a notice of appeal on July 15 with the 11th Circuit regarding our second preliminary injunction which was granted on July 8. That appeal (No. 11-13277-EE) has officially begun with the filing of Mosaic’s Motion for Stay Pending Appeal, which is attached here. Eric asked that I send all of you a copy of the document; if there are any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best,

Amber E. Williams
Paralegal
Sierra Club Environmental Law Program
1650 38th Street, Suite 102W
Boulder, Colorado 80301
(T) 303.449.5595 ext. 104
(F) 303.449.6520
amber.williams@sierraclub.org