The Inherent Conflict

The following letter was published in Wauchula hometown newspaper, The Herald Advocate, April 3, 2012….

April 1, 2012

Dear Editor,

The lawsuit filed by FINR against CF Industries as reported in your March 29, 2012 edition (FINR Sues CF – Wants Quarter-Mile Setback) spotlights the conflict inherent in land-use for phosphate mining as opposed to other more desirable and environmentally benign uses as represented by FINR. It is clear that Mr. Brennick’s interests are the kind that we as a county should want to promote. His institute is the highest employer in the county at 600 jobs with intentions of expanding. (Both phosphate mining companies put together don’t employ that many people in Hardee County. Their long-range plans will result in a profound alteration of the natural habitat and drainage patterns of more than 100,000 acres of land in this county and the elimination of thousands of agricultural jobs.)

Note the conditions Mr. Brennick sited that make his location desirable: “… the rural and peaceful setting” of his institute, “… and the peace and serenity it offers [the] clients.”  I hope the lesson that our local decision-makers (BOCC and Planning Board) will take home from this confrontation is that peace and serenity are assets for attracting certain desirable businesses and developments to our county. For the most part agricultural land-use is compatible with these assets, but phosphate mining is not, by the nature of its operation and treatment of the land, peaceful or serene.

The same issues were at stake in a recent mine hearing in Bradenton as voiced by the people of Winding Creek subdivision when they found out that Mosaic had intentions of expanding their mining operation on the adjacent Wingate Creek Mine. People generally consider the constant drone of pumps, the 24/7 operations of draglines and the resultant air and light pollution, alteration of groundwater flow, the threat of dam breaches and flooding a detriment to their quality of life.

I wish Mr. Brennick best of luck as the court hands down a decision. I hope our county leaders will familiarize themselves with the underlying issues in this lawsuit and how they will affect our future as we seek economic growth and stability as a county moving forward.

Dennis Mader