DeSoto’s Mining Overlay Draws Fire

  from The DeSoto Sun

 09/01/2010

 By CLINTON BURTON

 Staff Writer

 DESOTO COUNTY — The Florida Department of Community Affairs has objected to proposed changes to DeSoto County’s Future Land Use map. The DeSoto County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on May 25 to seek state approval of a map overlay that specifically defines where in the county a company may make an application to mine phosphate.

 The application to amend the county’s land use plan was made jointly by the county planning department and Mosaic Fertilizer which owns most of the property within the proposed map overlay area in the northwest part of DeSoto County near Pine Level.

 Following the BOCC approval, the application was transmitted to the Florida Department of Community Affairs to begin a comprehensive review process that included other state agencies.

 On Aug. 16, the DCA communicated its objection to the proposed overlay in a memorandum to county officials.

 “When the county updated its comprehensive plan in 2008 many of the mining-related policies that established criteria, buffering and protection of natural resources were deleted,” the memo says. “The deletion of these polices reduced the strength of the protection area for the land. The mining overlay and related policies do not adequately protect and conserve wetlands and fail to direct incompatible uses away from wetlands. The overlay does not restrict land uses that would adversely affect the quality of the water resource … the overlay does not protect the natural functions of the soils, fisheries, wildlife habitats, river and floodplains and does not meet the requirements of Rule 9J-5.013 (20)(b)4, F.A.C. that requires the conservation, appropriate use and protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat,” the written objection stated.

 But DeSoto County Planning Manager Jason Green said some of the objections raised by the DCA do not take into account polices that the county already has in place.

 “They are looking only at what we sent to them,” he said.

 Mosaic spokesperson Russell Schweiss said the company is working with DeSoto County to respond to the DCA’s concerns.

 “Some of the issues that were raised are going to create logistical problems and we are working to address those issues,” he said. “This is nothing unusual. It’s just something that has to be worked through.”

 The DCA’s objections echoed concerns raised by some neighboring counties and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

 In a letter to the DCA from that agency, the FDEP’s Director of Intergovernmental Programs, Sally Mann, wrote, “The department believes that the proposed GOPs (goals, objectives and policies) supporting the overlay do not adequately protect important floodplain and wetland resources in the area” and the proposed GOPs “should be strengthened to provide for the adequate protection of tributaries and floodplains connected to the Peace River and Horse Creek.”

 Lee County also commented on the proposal. “The mining overlay area will result in substantial impacts on areas designated for protection or special treatment within Lee County jurisdiction. The proposed plan amendment must be augmented to include goals, objectives and polices to establish measurable objectives so there is a clear basis for evaluating the effectiveness of those policies in accomplishing in the goal of protecting the ecosystems that depend on the Peace River,” according to Lee County commissioner Tammy Hall who asked the DCA to urge DeSoto county to establish “specific and measurable objectives” so that the effectiveness of protecting the ecosystems could be evaluated.

 Hall’s objections were supported by Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash who also wrote to the DCA.

 Roland Ottolini, director of Lee County’s Division of Natural Resources, said decisions made in DeSoto County could have far-reaching effects,

 “Some of the reasons we’ve challenged the changes to the comprehensive plan is the potential impacts downstream. Phosphate mining involves a lot of major landscape changes and that can mean a major change to the quality of water,” he said. “Charlotte Harbor is a major economic draw for us.”

 Ottolini said Lee County is not necessarily against phosphate mining but county officials believe DeSoto’s overlay plan was not done properly.

 “There was not enough detail. We need a lot more information,” he said.

 E-mail: cburton@sun-herald.com

DeSoto County Poised to Adopt Mining Overlay

Desoto County Board of Commissioners has posted the purpose of the September 28 meeting on their website: The plan is to adopt the generalized mining overlay and future land use map allowing Mosaic a firmer foothold in their county. They have placed this extremely important matter as the very last item of business on their agenda for the meeting, so attendees will have to sit through an entire evening of irrelevant business to be heard (if they allow further public comment).

You can follow the link below to see more detailed information and a copy of the document in question. There are 269 pp. of information so it will take a while to download. Then scroll to the very last few pages….

Please disseminate this email widely so that all interested parties are informed.

Ordinance/LS #2010-01-Mosaic Fertilizer LLC

Request to adopt the Ordinance approving LS#2010/Mosaic Fertilizer LLC amending the Comprehensive Plan objectives and policies related to the creation of a Generalized Mining Over; and amending the Future Land Use Map based on comments provided by DCA.
http://co.desoto.fl.us/images/packets/Packet.pdf

DeSoto County Defends Comp Plan

(from DeSoto County website)

 

http://www.co.desoto.fl.us/images/bocc/Newspaper%20article%20response.pdf

 Once again our local newspaper and author Clinton Burton have provided the public with an article that distorts facts and paints a completely inaccurate picture. The context of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) response, commonly referred to as an ORC, at times can be vague and easily misunderstood.

We know of this potential misunderstanding because it is exactly what the Central Florida Regional Planning Council did when preparing their review and comments for DCA. After a brief discussion and clarification with the Planning Council’s reviewer, they resubmitted comments and found no objection to the proposed Phosphate Overlay; and furthermore, found it in compliance with regional goals, objectives and policies.

The point about the greater context of an amendment is necessary to understand because it can easily be dismissed. As part of the 2007 adoption and 2008 remedial amendments to our 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the County Commissioners adopted policies that ensure the protection of our natural environmental features and habitat. As a rural county that offers ample eco-tourism opportunities and relies on the river system for potable water, we recognize the importance of the Peace River and its tributaries. This is why the Conservation Overlay, a guiding map not a technical survey, was adopted in 2008 to include all wetlands, floodplain, endangered species habitat, and other environmentally sensitive areas, as identified by best available data from State and Federal sources. Due to the fact that this data is an estimate or best guess, the Conservation Overlay is not all inclusive. Many areas will be identified at future dates as on-site technical surveys are conducted by land owners. In addition, some Conservation Overlay areas will be removed from protection because additional analysis will document the property does not have environmentally sensitive areas.

Most of the protection policies are already included in our Conservation Element and therefore did not need to be resubmitted to DCA. There are seven separate policies sprinkled throughout the Conservation Element and an entire Objective with fourteen (14) additional supportive policies solely regulating mining, including Phosphate. It is these Objectives and additional policies that protect our natural resources. The proposed Overlay was intended only to map potential areas for phosphate mining and to clarify that this use could occur in those areas. The County is not introducing phosphate mining to our Comprehensive Plan. That was done in 1991 with the adoption of the first Plan. The BOCC did this in 1991 because phosphate mining had been recognized through zoning (9,000+ acres since 1981) and ownership by mining companies (since 1970’s). The potential presence of phosphate mining should not be a surprise to anyone within DeSoto or adjacent counties.

The proposed policies and Overlay are reliant on and enhanced by the existing environmental protection policies. DCA’s comment about the removal of protection criteria is misleading. The policies that were removed when we adopted our “new” Plan were specifically related to setbacks from uses, such as a residential structure. The setback regulations are not necessary in the Comprehensive Plan because technical

setback restrictions are only appropriate in the Land Development Regulations (LDR); and because we already have those standards clearly delineated in the LDR and by Ordinance adopted by the BOCC. The approval by DCA to remove those setback standards when they approved our Comprehensive Plan in 2008 is sufficient evidence that this was not detrimental to the protection of our environmental and natural systems.                                                                                          

Our Comprehensive Plan is already loaded policies that protect the environment (21 policies). DCA staff complimented us upon adoption of the Plan in 2008 for our progressive policies and commitment to protecting the environment. Nothing has changed since the 2030 Plan was adopted and nothing will change as a result of a Phosphate Mining Overlay.

In conclusion, there is nothing unique about this proposed Overlay. It is nearly identical to those of Hardee County, Manatee County, and Hillsborough County, which all were approved without issue by DCA and with no objection from Lee County. Staff is working diligently to resolve outstanding issues, incorporate several of DCA and FDEP’s recommendations, and to communicate the relationship between existing and proposed policies. The Comprehensive Plan is a document where each Element within it works in concert together, not in isolation from each other. We continue to follow basic procedures for responding to comments by a state agency.

DCA Frowns on DeSoto County Mining Overlay Proposal

DCA Registers Objections to DeSoto County Mining Overlay

The Florida Department of Community Affairs, the state’s land planning and community development agency, published their response to DeSoto County’s proposed comp plan amendments and mining overlay on their website.

In a series of public hearings in May 2010,  the DeSoto Board of County Commissioners, in defiance of their Planning and Advisory Board and the majority of citizens attending the hearings, voted to transmit comp plan amendments and expansion of their mining overlay to the DCA for approval. Essentially the proposal increased the existing 9,000 acres dedicated to Phosphate Mining  by an additional 17,000 acres to bring the total “Phosphate Overlay District” up to 26,000 acres on the west side of the county at Pine Level (Next to Manatee County’s border). It included part of the Keys Mine & part of the Pine Level Mine. It straddled Horse Creek omitting the previous clause restricting mining from the 100 year flood plan.

The DCA did not approve.

To comply with the transmittal process DeSoto County has to address each of DCA’s objections when the plan is resubmitted for compliance review. In addition the DCA made it clear that by law local governments are required to provide the names and addresses of all citizens who have an interest in the outcome of the plan, and who have given their names and addresses at the hearings of transmittal or adoption. Therefore, if you attending the hearings, and submitted a form to address the commission, please be sure that the county communicates that information to the DCA so that you will be included in a Notice of Intent.

 

The DCA noted in its objections that when DeSoto County updated its comp plan in 2008 “many of the mining related policies that established criteria, buffering and protection of natural resources were deleted. The deletion of these policies reduced the strength of the protection policies for the area.” It sited violations of numerous rules relating to lack of comprehensive planning process for protection of wetlands, water quality, and the natural function of soils, fisheries, conservation of wildlife habitats, rivers, and floodplains. They recommended specific and appropriate buffering between mining activities and agricultural and residential uses, prohibition of mining of wetlands in the 100-year floodplain of the Peace river, Joshua Creek, Horse Creek and Prairie Creek, as well as the unaltered portions of the direct tributaries of the Peace River including Brandy Branch and Buzzard Roost Branch.

The complete DCA report can be viewed online at the following link:

http://www.dca.state.fl.us/fdcp/Advisories/Desoto%20County%2010-1%20ORC_00001.pdf

Court order extracts pain from Mosaic

A legal challenge to mining operations planned by The Mosaic Co. threatens a huge hit to the income statements of Mosaic’s suppliers and vendors.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Court order extracts pain from Mosaic

http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2010/08/23/story2.html?b=1282536000^3829151

A legal challenge to mining operations planned by The Mosaic Co. threatens a huge hit to the income statements of Mosaic’s suppliers and vendors.

At least 18 companies that do business with Mosaic would be out at minimum of $80 million in combined annual revenue, and about 400 of their employees would lose their jobs, in addition to the 221 Mosaic workers who would be laid off if a preliminary injunction barring Mosaic from mining in federal wetlands in Hardee County is made permanent.

United Maritime Group LLC in Tampa, which ships product for Mosaic, could lose nearly $30 million, about 10 percent of its annual revenue. Tampa construction firms such as Kimmins Contracting Corp. and JVS Contracting Inc., already hard hit by the economic downturn, would feel a further pinch. Contractor Bul-Hed Corp. in Bartow could face a death knell.

“If Mosaic is prohibited from further mining, it will mean that Bul-Hed Corporation would cease to exist sometime in the near future,” Ronnie Hedrick, president, said in a court filing.

Mining opponents have their own concerns about the economic impact on the hospitality industry.

Allowing Mosaic to go forward would hurt Charlotte County because its tourism-based economy is dependent on the health of Charlotte Harbor, said Percy Angelo, chair of the phosphate committee for Sierra Club Florida.

Contract under scrutiny

Mining would cause environmental damage to the headwaters of the Peace River and other streams that drain into the Charlotte Harbor estuary, according to a June 30 complaint brought by the Sierra Club and other groups against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The groups challenged the issuance of a federal permit that would allow Mosaic (NYSE: MOS) to expand mining for phosphate rock in its South Fort Meade mine, which straddles the Polk and Hardee county borders.

On July 30, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. in Jacksonville issued a preliminary injunction against the expansion, saying the Army Corps had failed to adequately explore alternative plans that would cause less environmental damage to the area. Mosaic appealed the decision and asked for a stay of the injunction.

Mosaic has been mining in Polk County since 1995 and said it is close to fully exhausting the available phosphate ore in the area so it needs to access reserves in the Hardee County extension, where there are about 48 million tonnes of ore, representing about 10 years of active mining operations, said Rich Mack, executive vice president, during an Aug. 2 conference call with analysts.

Although Mosaic has four other mines in Florida, their output would not offset the impact of a shutdown at South Fort Meade, the company said.

“We’re very disappointed that this will adversely impact our employees, as well as other stakeholders, including our suppliers and the local communities, such as Hardee, Polk and Hillsborough counties where we operate,” Jim Prokopanko, president and CEO of Mosaic, said in the conference call.

One week later, United Maritime received a letter from Mosaic calling the preliminary injunction a “force majeure” event, a clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation in extraordinary circumstances beyond their control.

United Maritime, whose ships carry phosphate rock mined in Florida to Louisiana where it is turned into finished fertilizer, is evaluating the notice, said Walt Bromfield, senior vice president of finance.

There’s eight years left on the contract between Mosaic and United Maritime, which said about 10 percent of its $296 million in revenue in 2009 came from Mosaic.

Ripple effect

Mosaic is one of the biggest customers of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), which provides electricity for draglines at the mine. However, Cherie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for Progress Energy Florida in St. Petersburg declined to estimate the potential impact of mining curtailment, citing customer confidentiality.

CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX), which ships all the rock out of the mine by rail, already has cut two workers and could cut six more if the current level of operations is further reduced, said Jon Haselwood, director of sales, chemicals and fertilizer for CSX Transportation Inc. in Jacksonville.

A reduced level of operations since the temporary injunction was handed down has cost CSX direct revenue of $17,000 a day, and would jump to $26,000 a day if mining operations cease, Haselwood said in a court filing.

For smaller firms, such as JVS Contracting, construction work done for Mosaic makes up a significant part of their total business. JVS, which has made capital expenditures specifically for the South Fort Meade mine, would have to lay off about 20 workers if mining at the site is stopped, John Simon Jr., president, said in a court statement.

The impact goes beyond Mosaic’s direct vendors, said Joe Williams, president of Kimmins Contracting, which gets about 25 percent of its revenue from Mosaic. Subcontractors hired by Kimmins to do concrete, electrical and sod work also would be hurt, Williams said.

“We would shrink and sell equipment and lay people off,” Williams said. “Would we survive? Yes. We would grow again, but we won’t replace that work in a quick period of time.”

Assessing the impact

Mosaic has estimated it would lose $250 million to $300 million in operating earnings in a worst-case scenario.
In its fiscal year ended May 31, Mosaic had earnings of $1.75 billion before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization on net sales of $6.76 billion, said Fitch Ratings. Fitch said potential losses from the mining disruption in Hardee County would not impact Mosaic’s debt ratings, currently “BBB,” or a low investment-grade rating.
None of the 400 jobs at Mosaic’s Florida headquarters in FishHawk Ranch have been impacted at this time, said spokesman Russell Schweiss.
— Margie Manning

mmmanning@bizjournals.com | 813.342.2473
Read more: Court order extracts pain from Mosaic suppliers – Tampa Bay Business Journal

Mosaic wants 4 months to extend South Fort Meade Mine

Mosaic wants 4 months to extend South Fort Meade Mine

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 12:56 PM

(Source: The Ledger)By Kevin Bouffard, The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.

Aug. 17–HAINES CITY — A Sierra Club lawyer has rejected a Mosaic Co. request to agree to limited phosphate mining in northern Hardee County that could avoid up to 221 layoffs at the company’s South Fort Meade Mine.

“The judge found the mining permit was illegally issued. It’s an illegal act they’re proposing,” Eric Huber, a lawyer at the Sierra Club Inc.’s Colorado office, said Monday.

Mosaic last week asked U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. in Jacksonville to modify a preliminary injunction he issued on July 30. The injunction halted Mosaic’s plan to extend the South Fort Meade Mine, which employs 260 people, into 10,750 acres in northern Hardee.

The ruling stemmed from a June 30 lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club and two Florida environmental groups challenging a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to extend the mine. Adams agreed the Army Corps had failed adequately to explore alternative mine plans that might cause less environmental damage to the area, which includes 534 acres of wetlands and 56,666 feet of streams that feed into the Peace River.

After the Adams ruling, Mosaic announced it would shut down the South Fort Meade Mine in September. On July 12 it notified 221 mine workers they faced layoffs in 60 days if the Sierra Club prevailed in the lawsuit.

Mosaic has asked Adams to modify the injunction to permit the first phase of the mine extension into an area that contains only nine acres of wetlands that had already been disturbed, said Russell Schweiss, a company spokesman. That would allow mining for about four months.

“We’ve asked the Sierra Club to support the motion so that we do not have to resort to layoffs,” Schweiss said in an e-mail statement on Monday. “A lot of lives hang in the balance, and they have the opportunity to spare a lot of families from significant hardships.”

But Huber said he had already informed Mosaic’s lawyers on Friday that the environmental groups, including ManaSota 88 and People for Protecting Peace River Inc. in Wauchula, would not agree to the proposed modification.

“The truth is it’s the Mosaic Co.’s inept strategic planning, not the Sierra Club, that’s at fault (for layoffs), and it’s certainly not the employees,” Huber said.

The Sierra Club has until Aug. 30 to file its written response to the Mosaic offer with the Jacksonville court. If Adams declines to change his ruling, the case heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, which will consider Mosaic’s plea to reverse Adams.

Adams has set an Oct. 28 deadline for all parties to file written arguments on the lawsuit’s ultimate request for a permanent injunction against the mine extension. That would prohibit any further work in northern Hardee at least until the Army Corps further reviews environmental impacts, which could take one to three years.

Mosaic employs 2,166 workers at its Polk County facilities, which also include the Four Corners and Hookers Prairie mines and the Bartow and New Wales fertilizer plants.

Judge tells Mosaic to halt work at site near Peace River

By Christopher O’Donnell

Sample Page

Published: Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 12:43 a.m.

A federal judge has halted work at a 10,800-acre site in Hardee County that would bring mining closer to the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor watershed.

Middle District of Florida Judge Henry Adams ruled that local environmental groups stand a good chance of success in their lawsuit that accuses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating federal law by granting the Mosaic Co. a mining permit June 14 without sufficient review.

The temporary restraining order will halt operations at the site until a hearing on a more permanent injunction scheduled for July 22. Mosaic were preparing the site until the order but had not yet begun mining.

Damage to the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor and their headwaters is “sufficiently likely” if mining starts, Adams said in his order.

In their lawsuit, environmental groups claim the Corps of Engineers failed to hold a public meeting on the project and should have conducted an Environmental Impact Statement. The National Environmental Policy Act mandates such a statement if a project significantly affects the environment.

Corps officials determined that the environmental assessment was not needed despite a request from the Environmental Protection Agency, nearby counties and citizens that one be conducted, according to the lawsuit.

Corps officials did not return a call for comment.

The Corps has since agreed to conduct an environmental assessment on the phosphate mining impacts on the Peace River basin.

“You’re supposed to do those up front,” said Tom Reese, a lawyer representing the Sierra Club.

A federal judge has halted work at a 10,800-acre site in Hardee County that would bring mining closer to the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor watershed.

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Middle District of Florida Judge Henry Adams ruled that local environmental groups stand a good chance of success in their lawsuit that accuses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating federal law by granting the Mosaic Co. a mining permit June 14 without sufficient review.

The temporary restraining order will halt operations at the site until a hearing on a more permanent injunction scheduled for July 22. Mosaic were preparing the site until the order but had not yet begun mining.

Damage to the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor and their headwaters is “sufficiently likely” if mining starts, Adams said in his order.

In their lawsuit, environmental groups claim the Corps of Engineers failed to hold a public meeting on the project and should have conducted an Environmental Impact Statement. The National Environmental Policy Act mandates such a statement if a project significantly affects the environment.

Corps officials determined that the environmental assessment was not needed despite a request from the Environmental Protection Agency, nearby counties and citizens that one be conducted, according to the lawsuit.

Corps officials did not return a call for comment.

The Corps has since agreed to conduct an environmental assessment on the phosphate mining impacts on the Peace River basin.

“You’re supposed to do those up front,” said Tom Reese, a lawyer representing the Sierra Club.

The site, close to Polk County, includes 534 acres of wetlands and 10 miles of streams that feed the Peace River, a main source of drinking water for an estimated 700,000 Floridians.

Mosaic officials said the permit was subject to extensive reviews but would not comment on whether an environmental study should have been conducted.

Mosaic officials said delaying the project would affect Hardee County, which stands to benefit from a $42 million contribution by Mosaic toward local infrastructure.

DeSoto County Sets Stage for Environmental Headaches (DeSoto Sun Herald Op-Ed 06/09/10)

… as county commissions in Hardee and DeSoto Counties open their doors to expanded phosphate mining operations in the Peace River watershed we are inviting degradation in our own backyards….

As crude oil from the BP/Deepwater Horizon well pours inexorably into the sensitive environment of the Gulf of Mexico, remember that only a few weeks ago Florida was debating the possibility of allowing off-shore drilling along its coast. The environmental community staunchly recommended against it – because the consequences of the environmental damage associated with off-shore drilling were an unacceptable risk to the economy as well as the environment of our beautiful state.

Likewise, as county commissions in Hardee and DeSoto Counties open their doors to expanded phosphate mining operations in the Peace River watershed we are inviting a similar kind of degradation to occur in our own backyards. A recent editorial in The DeSoto Sun complimented a decision by the county commission to approve a mining overlay which more than doubles the amount of land in the Pine Level area on both sides of Horse Creek that are designated for phosphate strip mining (an additional 17,000 acres). This decision by the commissioners has unquestionably legitimized the presence of Mosaic phosphate company in their midst and moved the county one step closer to strip mining operations with no regard for the recommendation of their advisory board or the will of their people.

We are told these days of wide-spread disenchantment with incumbent politicians who are oblivious to the will of their constituents. It could not have been any more obvious than at the May 25 Hearing in Arcadia when public sentiment was overwhelmingly opposed to the approval of the comp plan amendment allowing for additional mining by the people who live in the Pine Level community. As always we were reminded repeatedly that the amendment would not allow mining, and that there will be a rigorous DRI process before mining can actually be permitted. Yet, on the other hand, had the DeSoto Commissioners denied the expansion of the mining overlay that night, the door would have been closed on phosphate strip mining in the county – precluding a DRI.

The Sun Herald editorial extols the record of mine reclamation since 1975. In fact only 28% of all of Mosaic’s mined land has fulfilled total reclamations requirements. 37% is suitable only for “industrial” standards – that is, development like waste disposal and power plants. Mined land is no longer suitable for productive agriculture which is historically the basis of the DeSoto County economy. Reclaimed soil is substandard and is typically overgrown with cogon grass which is non-native and unsuitable for cattle forage. There is no denying that at least 40% of mined lands will end up as clay slime disposal – which is unsuitable for construction and agriculture, and considered by the US EPA as a “permanent impact” on the Peace River watershed. According to the Soil Suitability Index “where reclaimed overburden and sand tailing landforms are situated in the path of urban growth, and real estate values are elevated…  such lands may be viewed as developable. Little if any urban development has taken place on waste clay disposal sites, which is understandable given the extreme physical shortcomings of clays as support for foundations.” This would explain why the vast majority of old phosphate land, even that which has been “reclaimed,” lies fallow and abandoned. Most of it is uneconomical for any kind of development.

To contend that the phosphate controversy is “not real,” as the Sun editorial apparently does, is naïve and inattentive. There is an abundance of scientific documentation on the negative effects of mining on the watersheds, agriculture, and urban development by the US Geological Survey, the EPA, DEP, and Water Management District. I suggest your readers go to Google Maps and check out the landscape from Ft. Green to Bradley Junction. Have a good look at what phosphate strip mining has done. All the water entrapped in those mine cuts and clay slime impoundments is water that once contributed to the aquifer which supplies our rivers and coasts. Also check out the 3PR website www.protectpeaceriver.org to consult the studies and other evidence that support our case against the phosphate industry.

Dennis Mader

President 3PR (People for Protecting Peace River)

Ona, FL

Manure Provides Higher Returns Than Chemical Fertilizers

Texas AgriLife Research economist said manure generates higher economic returns than anhydrous ammonia.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628124559.htm

ScienceDaily (June 29, 2010) — No significant differences in corn yield were found between organic and chemical sources of nutrients, but a Texas AgriLife Research economist said manure generates higher economic returns than anhydrous ammonia.

Dr. Seong Park, AgriLife Research economist, recently had his research published in the Agronomy Journal. The work was from studies he conducted in the Oklahoma Panhandle while at Oklahoma State University and finalized while in his new position at Vernon. The long-term experiment involved the use of pig and beef manure on irrigated corn fields, he said. The testing was conducted in part due to a rapid growth of animal population and density in that region, as well as the northern part of the Texas Panhandle. Park said when swine manure, which is normally stored in open-air lagoon systems, is properly applied and the economics figured, the effluent can be used as manure with minimal environmental and nuisance concerns. Animal manure, he said, benefits producers by reducing waste management costs and the need for chemical fertilizers because it contains multiple essential crop nutrients, according to previous research. Park said the key between animal manure transitioning from a cost (for disposal) to a benefit (as a fertilizer) is determined by agronomic and economic factors such as chemical fertilizer costs and equipment and labor needed to apply each. Anhydrous ammonia was the most costly nitrogen source across all three equivalent nitrogen rates of 50, 150 and 450 pounds of nitrogen per acre, with costs of $30.86, $54.88 and $126.95 per acre, respectively. He said the higher costs of anhydrous were due to the purchase price, which is not required normally with the use of beef and swine manure. Swine effluent had the lowest costs at $12.06, $17.98 and $34.51 per acre for the three application rates. The lower costs for the swine effluent are associated with the ability to apply it through existing irrigation equipment, requiring only minimal purchase to pump from the lagoon to the center pivot, Park said. Both the anhydrous and beef manure require the purchase of application machinery, he said, which adds a fixed cost. Because of that cost, beef manure application costs were higher than swine, at $30.52, $35.47 and $47.19 per acre, respectively at the same rate. Beef manure, however, becomes a more economical choice if the crops are located away from the originating farm of either manure, Park said. While swine effluent has a lower breakeven price, it is too bulky to transport off-farm to other producers. “The breakeven is figured by using the actual price of corn plus the cost of fertilizer,” he said. “During this study, there was a widening margin in the breakeven between the animal manure-treated corn crops and anhydrous ammonia-treated corn crops, which generated an increased profitability for producers and increased the economic viability of marketing beef manure as a commercial fertilizer.” Park explained if beef manure averages $2.20 per ton with a shipping cost of 50 cents per mile, it can be profitably transported up to 29 miles from its point of origin in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and be competitive with high anhydrous ammonia prices, as experienced from 2005-2007. Another benefit of animal manures is the improvement of soil properties such as micronutrients and soil pH, Park said. Throughout his experiment the beef-manure and swine-effluent plots maintained higher soil pH levels than the corresponding anhydrous plots. Additionally, continued application of anhydrous can lead to acidification and thus losses in productivity, he said. Appropriate nutrient-management practices should be implemented to prevent environmental damages. Park also warned that site-specific conditions such as weather, animal waste management practices and soil properties would need to be taken into consideration when adapting this information to locations outside the Oklahoma Panhandle. “This is a unique economic study on various nitrogen fertilizers using rare and valuable data from a long-term field experiment from 1995 to 2007,” Park said. “The next step is to determine best nutrient practices based on this experimental data.” Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Communications. The original article was written by Kay Ledbetter. ________________________________________ Journal Reference: 1.    S. C. Park, J. Vitale, J. C. Turner, J. A. Hattey, A. Stoecker. Economic Profitability of Sustained Application of Swine Lagoon Effluent and Beef Feedlot Manure Relative to Anhydrous Ammonia in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Agronomy Journal, 2010; 102 (2): 420 DOI: 10.2134/agronj2009.0166

 

Renewed worries over plan for phosphate mine – May 8, 2010

The city of North Port in Sarasota County braces for phosphate mining in the Myakkahatchee Creek watershed, their source of drinking water.

By JASON WITZ Correspondent

Published: Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.

NORTH PORT – Renewed worries about the impact of future phosphate mining have prompted city officials to consider asking state and federal regulatory agencies to assess the potential risks phosphate mining would have on the area’s water supply.

On Monday, the City Commission will recommend sending a letter urging the agencies to conduct an environmental impact statement before any permits are issued for mining on land controlled by the Mosaic Co. north of the city.

“The letter is basically saying, ‘Be careful,'” said David Garofalo, City Commission chairman. “We’re not taking a stance either way at this point, but this is our drinking water.”

Mosaic could potentially mine two sites, called Pine Level and Keys, spanning portions of Manatee and DeSoto counties in the Central Florida phosphate mining region known as the “Bone Valley.”

Garofalo said officials are concerned about the possible downstream impacts any mining there would have on the Myakkahatchee Creek, the city’s primary water source.

A Mosaic spokesman said the company has no pending applications with any agency to begin operations at the two sites. The company’s current operations are centered farther north, largely in the Peace River basin.

“It is in our long-term plans,” said Russell Schweiss.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued two general environment resource permits authorizing construction of a fence and 20 monitoring wells at the Pine Level site, west of Arcadia.

For the last three years, the Southwest Florida Water Management District in Bartow has been reviewing a water-use permit which would allow ground water withdrawals of up to 76 million gallons per day to supply all Mosaic sites, including a Pine Level mine.

Mosaic representatives reportedly told city staff in April its intent is to install a phosphate processing plant and develop the portion of the mines located within the Peace River watershed. Any actual mining at the sites in question would be at a “much later date,” the letter said.

This week, the DeSoto County planning commission opposed Mosaic’s proposal to amend the county’s comprehensive plan for land use. The matter will go before the DeSoto County Commission May 25 at 1 p.m.

Representatives of the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, a regional coalition and longtime opponent of phosphate mining, question Mosaic’s intentions.

“We don’t trust them,” said Becky Ayech, president of the organization.