Opponents challenge new Mosaic mining plan

Opponents challenge new Mosaic mining plan

Fort Meade Leader/Polk County Democrat
Staff Writer
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.

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.

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.

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

For Immediate Release – April 11, 2011

Eric E. Huber, Sierra Club Senior Staff Attorney, (303) 449-5595 ext. 101

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
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
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.”

Mosaic in Face Off

Mosaic Faces Off With Environmental Groups Over Florida Mine

“What happens in this particular case may determine how much, and in what way, they continue to mine this entire area,” Huber said.

Mosaic Corp. (MOS) is facing off with environmental groups in Florida so it can maintain output of a key fertilizer component.
The fertilizer maker has secured water permits necessary to expand its mining operations in central Florida. Yet Mosaic, the world’s largest producer of phosphates, is fighting an injunction issued by a federal judge last summer after the Sierra Club and local environmental groups accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the issuer of the permits, of violating clean-water requirements.
At stake when the two sides return to court next month is about a third of Mosaic’s phosphate production. The Plymouth, Minn. company is experiencing growing demand for fertilizer made from the raw material as farmers try to keep pace with booming global food needs. Phosphate along with nitrogen and potassium, or potash, have drawn increased attention from governments and investors illustrated last year by a $38.6 billion bid byBHP Billiton (BHP) for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT), a rival of Mosaic.
Mosaic plans to expand its mine in South Fort Meade, Fla. by 11,000 acres as production from the existing acreage dwindles. Investors expect the mine to keep operating, with earnings projections by stock analysts not factoring in the costs of production losses, said Horst Hueniken, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus in Toronto.
“The collective wisdom of investors is this place is not shutting down,” he said.
Hueniken estimated the mine’s closure could add up to $690 million in annual costs for Mosaic based on current market prices for phosphate, which the company likely would have to buy to replace the lost capacity. Phosphate currently sells for about $150 a ton.
In a recent interview, Mosaic Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko expressed confidence the company would prevail, saying the injunction has a “slim to nil” chance of being upheld on appeal. The company expects to prevail on the overall lawsuit as well.
At issue in the case is whether the Army Corps issued a permit for the mine expansion too hastily and violated the Clean Water Act. The Sierra Club and local environmental groups sued to stop the expansion, saying it could contaminate drinking-water supplies and fisheries in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which is connected to the site through a network of swamps and streams.
The Mosaic mine is about 80 miles southwest of Orlando nearly smack in the center of the state. Phosphate deposits have long been mined in Florida, and the state accounts for about 25% of world production.
Sierra Club attorney Eric Huber dismissed Prokopanko’s confidence on the appeal as “puffery.” On average, only 10% of trial-judge rulings are overturned in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, where Mosaic’s appeal is being heard, the Sierra Club said.
“What happens in this particular case may determine how much, and in what way, they continue to mine this entire area,” Huber said.
Prokopanko said the Army Corps spent three years examining the company’s permit request, and that work shouldn’t be stopped by a single judge who looked at the case for a couple of days.
“This country would come to a screeching, roaring halt” if such decisions were allowed to stand, he said.
The federal appeals court will hear Mosaic’s appeal of the injunction April 4. A ruling isn’t expected for at least a month and could take four to six months.
For now, Mosaic can continue a 200-acre expansion of the mine, which will be depleted in May. After that, Prokopanko said the company could mine a 1,000-acre area for about 18 months while the case is heard, if need be. Mining the area will come at a higher costs, but will avoid wetlands on which the court case focuses.
CF Industries Holdings Inc. (CF) also mines phosphate in Florida. Chief Executive Stephen Wilson in July said the case was “a troublesome situation,” but noted CF has fully permitted mines that will last through the next decade.
-By Ian Berry, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-750-4072 ;

Florida Mine Battle Looms

Mosaic’s ‘Phos-Fate’: Florida Mine Battle Looms
By Scott Eden – 03/10/11 – 5:50 PM EST
Tickers in this article: CF VALE POT MOS
(Updated with response from Mosaic on the contested permit for the expansion of its Four Corners phosphate mine.)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The future of the Florida phosphate industry could hang in the balance early next month when a federal appeals court in Atlanta convenes to hear a set of arguments that pits two ancient adversaries — environmentalists vs. big business.
At the center of the dispute sits Mosaic(:MOS). Based in Plymouth, Minn. — 1,400 miles from its operations in the Sunshine State — the global fertilizer giant takes more phosphate out of Florida’s rich peninsular loam than any other company by far, accounting for about half of the nutrient produced in the U.S. in recent years. (Potash (:POT), a distant No. 2, accounts for about 25%, though most of that comes from North Carolina, not Florida. CF Industries(:CF) is third, with 11% of U.S. production).

The phosphate industry in Florida has long been controversial. Since modern dragline excavation techniques, capable of eating acres each day, came into use in the 1940s, it has strip-mined hundred of square miles of watershed in the center of the state, mostly from a region dubbed the Bone Valley by locals — excavations that have, on occasion, dried up rivers, critics and scientists claim. Its tailings have been poured into enormous, semi-toxic settling pools that have been known to spring leaks. The processing of phosphate rock into fertilizer produces radioactive gypsum, a byproduct that now covers about 3,400 acres, rendering it unusable.
But phosphate rock also happens to be the source of one of the world’s most important and effective plant nutrients — a substance that has taken on new relevance, rising to the level of national security, at a time of burgeoning fears over global food shortages. (Indeed, the element phosphorus is one of the fundamental building blocks of life).
For decades, the controversy in Florida remained little more than loud talk by local environmentalists who clashed in vain with Fortune 500 corporations. (The industry mined without any regulation at all until 1975.) But just within the last six months, all that seems to have changed. A series of lawsuits over mining permits has threatened to imperil Mosaic’s financial health.
In July last year, several local environmental and community groups, including a Florida chapter of the Sierra Club, sued to block Mosaic’s plan to expand its South Fort Meade mine. The company already has exhausted the rest of the plot. To lose the expansion then, would mean to lose between 4 million and 6 million metric tons per year of phosphate-rock production, or 32% of the company’s total output in its fiscal 2010.
Mosaic applied for permits to dig the nearly 11,000 acres of the South Fort Meade extension as far back as 2003. It took eight years to line most of them up, and by June 2010 it had received the last, from the Army Corps of Engineers, responsible for granting mining permits for areas delimited as wetlands.
For many years local environmentalists had urged the Corps to conduct an areawide impact study — one that would examine the effects of phosphate mining on the whole region, from the central Bone Valley all the way to the coast, where the waters of the valley empty via the Peace River and its tributaries into an enormous estuary called Charlotte Harbor, just north of Fort Meyers. A large-scale study of this kind hadn’t been done since 1978.
Environmentalists fear that the strip-mining has shredded the wetlands system that feeds those rivers — and, thus, the harbor.
“That’s our economic magnet down here,” says Jim Cooper, a retired Air Force pilot and the head of a local environmental group called Protect Our Watersheds. “They’ve never truly looked at the impacts on the downstream counties.”
When the Corps granted the permit without, once again, calling for a study, the group sued the Corps. According to the complaint, the environmentalists want the permit revoked until an areawide impact study yields its findings.
In July, a federal District Court in Jacksonville ruled partly in favor of the plaintiffs — enough of a victory that the court also issued a preliminary injunction that blocked Mosaic from proceeding with the South Fort Meade extension while it considered the environmentalists’ case. Within days, Mosaic appealed the injunction with the 11th Circuit court in Atlanta. The appellate will hear oral arguments from both sides in a one-day proceeding, scheduled for the week of April 4.
There has been at least some room for compromise. A settlement reached in October — after the Atlanta court forced the parties to sit down in mediation — allowed Mosaic to mine 200 acres of South Fort Meade, enough for about four months worth of mining, or 900,000 metric tons of phosphate rock. In return, the company agreed to leave a 40-acre piece of wetlands untouched. Mosaic is close to finishing those 200 acres.
As it turns out, as well, Col. Alfred Pantano of the Jacksonville district of the Army Corps of Engineers ordered a new areawide study this past summer. It’s expected to take a year and a half to complete.
Mosaic has long defended itself as you would expect a multibillion-dollar company to defend itself: with vigor and with a platoon of lawyers. In 2008, Manatee County in Florida denied the company a permit to mine on 2,000 acres — an extension to Mosaic’s other big mine in Bone Valley, called Four Corners. The county worried that the new operations would damage the community’s primary source of drinking water. Mosaic sued Manatee County for $618 million. (That was the difference, the company said, between the value of the tract as a mineable and un-mineable piece of Bone Valley land.) Manatee County’s board of commissioners soon reversed its position.
Mosaic’s official public stance when it comes to South Fort Meade is that this will all break in its favor. “We will be mining at South Fort Meade, and we’ll be at or close to full capacity there once we work through these legal issues,” Mosaic’s finance chief, Larry Stranghoener, told TheStreet in an interview. “That’s our expectation.”
Meanwhile, however, the company has pursued backup plans. Last year, it spent $385 million to buy a 35% stake in a new Peruvian phosphate mine majority owned by Vale(NYSE:VALE). Mosaic is slated to receive only 1.5 million metric tons of phosphate rock from Peru this year — not nearly enough to make up for the potential loss of South Fort Meade’s 4 million to 6 million tons.
To meet customer demand for its phosphorus fertilizers, Mosaic would boost production at one of its other mines, such as Four Corners, which sits adjacent to the Fort Meade tract. Most likely, though, it would need to shop overseas, in Morocco, which has come to rival Florida as the most phosphate-rich patch in the world, and buying from third-party miners on the other side of an ocean is far more expensive than simply digging it out of the Bone Valley. Mosaic’s profit margins would be squeezed.
“It’s critically important to us,” Stranghoener said. “It’s our largest and lowest cost rock mine. It produces about 35% of the rock we need. If we don’t have access to rock from that mine — which is not an outcome we expect — it would have a significant impact on our operations. And we’ve been making that very clear to people.
“I would also say, though, that we have a lot of ways to ensure that we’ve got the rock we need to continue to produce phosphate product,” he went on. “So I don’t want to minimize it. It’s a big deal. But we’re confident in the outcome of the underlying legal case and that we’ll move forward.”
Some on Wall Street say that investors already have discounted Mosaic shares to account for the total loss of South Fort Meade. Edlain Rodriguez, a stock analyst for Gleacher & Co. in New York, says he’s already removed the mine from his earnings estimates for Mosaic.
“You kind of assume the status quo, that they’re not going to produce much from that mine. And if this thing goes away, it goes away,” he said.
Depending on phosphate prices, he says, a fully functioning South Fort Meade extension would be worth 30 cents to 50 cents a share each year in net income. That would add about $5 to the company’s share price, he estimated.
Others have a somewhat more jaundiced view. Chris Damas, a trader and analyst at BCMI Research in Toronto, who specializes in natural-resource and agricultural stocks, believes Mosaic’s phosphate business in Florida has turned “toxic” because of the permitting problems as well as potential environmental liabilities.
Mosaic discusses these issues in the lengthy “legal proceedings” sections of its regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company says it takes its “evironmental stewardship responsibilities very seriously.” According to Stranghoener, “Once we’re done mining, we restore the land to a better condition than what it was before we started mining. And we spend a great deal of money to do that.”
More than just the fate of South Fort Meade hangs in the balance in Atlanta. The same Sierra Club-led group has sued the Army Corp of Engineers over its earlier granting of a permit for the expansion of Mosaic’s Four Corners mine, which produced 5.6 million metric tons of phosphate rock in fiscal 2010, or 42% of the company’s output that year. It’s the same place that Mosaic forced Manatee County to back away from, through its $618 million lawsuit.
Though Mosaic has continued to mine there without interruption, the Sierra Club litigation is still pending. The court, in essence, has twinned the two cases — South Fort Meade and Four Corners, which together make up 76% of the company’s annual estimated phosphate capacity — and has told everyone to sit tight, pending the appellate court decision in Atlanta. Whether Mosaic can mine in Florida at all may come down to the outcome of the hearings in April.
Until that decision is made, Mosaic investors will have Florida on their minds.
A Mosaic spokesman, however, offered this clarification: Even if the permit for the Four Corners expansion (called the Altman tract) were revoked, it wouldn’t reduce the company’s phosphate output at the mine. Mosaic would simply move the dragline at Altman to another, nearby phosphate reserve that is fully permitted and ready to go, of which the company has several.
— Reported by Scott Eden in New York
>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Scott Eden.
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Tickers in this article: CF VALE POT MOS

Legislature to Consider Neutering Counties’ Fertilizer Rules

Sarasota Herald Tribune
ERIC ERNST: Bill would take teeth from local fertilizing rules

By Eric Ernst
Published: Sunday, February 6, 2011 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 5, 2011 at 9:19 p.m.

Contrary to popular belief, or perhaps wishful thinking, a legislative bill in Tallahassee would negate the most important parts of fertilizer rules in Sarasota and Charlotte counties.
Interpretations may vary, but that’s the view of Cris Costello, regional representative of the Sierra Club in Sarasota. She should know. The Sierra Club spearheaded efforts to pass the local laws several years ago to curb the flow of phosphorous and other nutrients into bays and the Gulf of Mexico.
The bill sponsored by two Panhandle representatives would prohibit counties and cities from enacting their own rules. Instead, they would have to adhere to what’s being called “model” statewide legislation, which of course would be weaker and in no meaningful way interfere with business as usual.
The local ordinances prohibit applications during the summer when fertilizer-laden stormwater runoff is most likely to trigger algal blooms such as red tide. They also regulate fertilizer content, setting mandatory levels of slow-release chemicals that are more likely to be absorbed by plants rather than wash into the water.
It makes sense to approach the problem of red tide this way, although if reputable scientific research uncovers flaws in the logic, local jurisdictions can certainly respond with adjustments.
The bill, probably to placate opposition, purports to exempt jurisdictions such as Sarasota and Charlotte that have new rules in place. That assurance is little more than a sham, Costello says.
“The grandfather date applies only to standards not relating to fertilizer content, application timing, application placement and sale,” she wrote in an e-mail.
That means the only parts left of the Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee ordinances would be the standards relating to the management of grass clippings and vegetative material.
“All of the protective standards — rainy season application bans, fertilizer-free buffers, required 50 percent slow release nitrogen — would be eliminated.”
Apparently, having standards that fit the area in which the fertilizer is actually being used is inconvenient to manufacturers and retailers.
They want a one-size-fits-all approach to something that’s not a one-size problem. One of the most compelling reasons to tailor the rules locally is that the drainage patterns and water flows, not to mention the climate, differ from one part of the state to another.
If some businesses can’t adjust to that, too bad for them.
Plenty of smaller, more nimble ventures are ready to take up the slack, as some already have in Sarasota County.
If people want to buy fertilizer, no matter what the formula, companies will respond to produce it and sell it.
And if people use a little less, that’s OK, too, for environmental reasons.
Trying to legislate from Tallahassee, and putting oversight in the hands of the state Department of Agriculture, usurps local control, undermines protection of natural resources and just makes it a lot easier to subvert the process.
It’s probably pure coincidence, but the Lakeland Ledger published an interesting story on Jan 25. Mosaic Co., the phosphate/fertilizer giant, just paid $10,000 for a chocolate hazelnut cake entered by Abigail Putnam in the Polk County Youth Fair Auction. The amount was 10 times larger than any ever received for a cake.
Abigail is the 9-year-old daughter of Adam Putnam, Florida agriculture commissioner.
Eric Ernst’s column runs Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.ernst@heraldtribune.com or (941) 486-3073.

Former Environmental Lawyer Named Next Secretary of FDEP

Governor-Elect Rick Scott Names Herschel Vinyard as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection
CONTACT: Brian Burgess January 3, 2010 850-922-5130
TALLAHASSEE, FL – In his continued focus on protecting the natural resources of Florida, while creating the best possible mechanisms for job creation in the state, Governor-elect Rick Scott today appointed Herschel Vinyard as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate and the Florida Cabinet.
Vinyard, who also served as a member of Scott’s Economic Development Transition Team, has a deep background in environmental compliance and innovation, having practiced environmental law for nearly a decade, while more recently serving as director of business operation for BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards. This mix of legal expertise and service with a major Florida employer positions Vinyard to uniquely understand the need for strong environmental protection while ensuring that government and business find new ways to partner in growing the Florida economy.
“Herschel is a man of deep environmental knowledge and practical business experience. He has a love for our great state’s natural resources and a passion for job creation. He will effectively balance those interests for the benefit of all Floridians. We are fortunate to have recruited Herschel from the private sector into government service,” Scott said.
As an example of Vinyard’s focus on environmental responsibility and effective business practices, he provided counsel to BAE Systems in their recent, successful efforts to remove its treated wastewater outfall from the St. Johns River. That wastewater is now being used for irrigation purposes and eliminates a discharge to one of Florida’s most significant water bodies.
In addition, Vinyard led his company’s three-year effort to obtain state approval for a sovereign submerged lands lease. His experience in this complex regulatory proceeding provided Vinyard with new insights on the challenges businesses face in the permitting process and the need to provide a more efficient and streamlined mechanism to meet environmental requirements.
“Good environmental practices make good business sense. Not only can such stewardship better protect the resources around us, they often save money and lead to new innovation. Herschel has been on the front lines of such efforts and will ensure that Florida leads the nation in new partnerships between government and industry that save money, streamline processes and create jobs,” Scott said.
During his practice at one of Florida’s most well-respected law firms, Vinyard represented numerous clients in a myriad of complex environmental matters. His expertise includes the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act and liability issues associated with the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, as well as Florida’s statutory counterparts in Chapter 376 and 403. He is also a past chair of the environmental and land use law section of the Jacksonville Bar Association.
Vinyard is involved in a number of volunteer efforts associated with conservation and environmental protection. As an advisory committee member of the Northeast Florida chapter of the Trust for Public Lands, Vinyard helped develop a strategy to identify and acquire sensitive environmental lands. He serves on the Florida DEP’s Lower St. Johns River TMDL Executive Committee to assist in the development of a basin management action plan for that water body.
About Herschel Vinyard:
Vinyard has more than twenty years of experience in environmental law and business management. In his current role as director of business operations at BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, Vinyard is responsible for strategic planning, business development and regulatory and government affairs. BAE is the world’s second largest defense contractor. He also serves on a number of professional and civic associations that draw upon his expertise in environmental and complex business practices. This includes board service on the Jacksonville Port Authority, the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Manufactures Association of Florida. During his decade in private practice at Smith, Hulsey and Busey, Vinyard counseled clients in state and federal environmental compliance and permitting, was heavily involved in the siting of an electrical cogenerating facility and assisted in industry waste minimization efforts. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University.

3PR News: Sarasota County Preps for EIS scoping process….

Sarasota County’s assistant attorney, David Pearce, sent a lengthy memorandum to Water Resource Manager, Jack Merriam, outlining the legal parameters of the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) recently undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers. The following “connected actions” were excerpted from the memo. They describe the environmental impacts of phosphate mining and fertilizer manufacturing. The entire memo will soon be posted on the 3PR website www.protectpeaceriver.org

1. Connected Actions – Site Preparation
2. Connected Actions – Topsoil and Muck Removal, Storage, and Redistribution
3. Connected Actions – Severing Connection to Surficial Aquifer and Dewatering
4. Connected Actions – Uplands and Isolated Wetlands
5. Connected Actions – Operation of Beneficiation Plants
6. Connected Actions – Consumptive Use of Water
Connection Actions – Waste Water Discharge
8. Connected Actions – Waste Management
9. Connected Actions – Phosphogypsum Stacks

Click to read entire article