Rays, Mosaic Company Drop Naming-Rights Pursuit 2/17/10

PORT CHARLOTTE – The Rays and the Mosaic Company have decided to not pursue their naming rights agreement for the Charlotte Sports Park for an indefinite period.

“While we believe this naming rights deal presents many benefits to both the Rays and the entire community, neither the Rays nor Mosaic wants it to distract the team and fans from their focus on baseball,” Rays senior vice president Mark Fernandez said Wednesday in a team release.

The Rays and phosphate company announced their 15-year partnership for the naming rights on Feb. 3, but asked the Charlotte County Commission to not vote on the matter during last week’s commission meeting.

David Townsend, Mosaic’s assistant vice president of public affairs, said at the time both sides wanted to regroup before subjecting the deal to the vote of the commission, which must approve any naming rights agreement for the Rays spring training facility.

On Wednesday, both sides announced they would defer pursuit of the agreement until at least the end of spring training, maybe longer.

The deal, which would pay Charlotte County $77,250 this year and more than $1.4 million over the life of the agreement, was met with opposition from several environmentalist groups and at least one member of the Charlotte County Commission.

“Community investment is a core element of Mosaic’s culture and our principal reason for entering into the naming rights agreement with the Rays,” Townsend said in the same release. “We remain committed to continuing and building upon our history of support to communities throughout our operating area.”

The county has fought Mosaic over mining in the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor watersheds during the past decade. The disputes went to court four times, with the courts ruling in Mosaic’s favor in each case.

Mosaic’s name was found throughout the stadium last spring, including on top of the dugouts. Townsend said his company and the Rays will remain partners and Mosaic’s logo will still appear inside the stadium.

By ROGER MOONEY | The Tampa Tribune

Tampa Bay Rays Park Won’t Carry Mosaic Name 2/19/10

An offer by Plymouth-based Mosaic Co. to purchase the naming rights for the spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays ran into a bit of a stink this week.

The arrangement was ultimately deferred by the baseball team after running into local opposition, including that of the Charlotte County Board, the owner of the stadium.

The County Board has been battling with Mosaic for several years, running up legal fees of $12 million, over Mosaic’s phosphate mining activities northeast of Port Charlotte.

“People in this community believe phosphate damages the environment and if there was an accident it would have a catastrophic effect on our watershed,” said Board Chairman Bob Starr.

Under the proposed deal, Charlotte County would get $75,000 a year but would have to use the revenue for upkeep and improvements at the park. The park would have to be called Mosaic Field at Charlotte Sports Park.

“Money was not a factor for anybody. No amount of money was acceptable,” Starr said. “The Rays didn’t expect the reaction. They did the right thing [withdrawing the proposal] and showed respect for the fans.”

Mosaic spokesman Rob Litt said the company has been a corporate partner with the Rays for the last two years and the naming issue was pulled off the table after the opposition surfaced. “We remain committed to the Rays and we remain committed to our ongoing community investment in the region,” Litt said.

Mosaic is North America’s second-largest fertilizer producer.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld the decision of a federal district court in Florida to vacate permits for limestone mining along a strip of former wetlands west of Miami. 1/22/10

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld the decision of a federal district court in Florida to vacate permits for limestone mining along a strip of former wetlands west of Miami.

Posted on Fri, Jan. 22, 2010

Appeals court upholds vacating of mining permits

The Associated Press

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has upheld the decision of a federal district court in Florida to vacate permits for limestone mining along a strip of former wetlands west of Miami.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the opinion Thursday regarding wetlands known as the “Lake Belt.”

U.S. District Judge Jack Camp, who sat on the panel, wrote in the opinion that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida “did not err” in January 2009 when it vacated the permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to several limestone mining companies.

The permits are required to extract limestone from the Lake Belt, home to four of Florida’s largest mines, which supply about half of the state’s cement. The 57,500-acre region, which borders the eastern edge of Everglades National Park, also provides 40 percent of Miami-Dade County’s drinking water. There has been mining in the region since the 1950s, creating thousands of acres of lakes.

The 11th Circuit upheld the district court’s finding that the Corps failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act “because it did not take into consideration the impact that limestone mining would have on municipal water supplies, including the potential costs of upgrading water treatment plants,” Camp writes.

The litigation pits the interests of the mining companies against “the need for public drinking water in the Miami-Dade area” and “the protection and restoration of the ecology of South Florida, increasingly threatened by mining, development, and agriculture,” Camp writes.

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and National Parks Conservation Association filed a lawsuit in 2002 challenging the validity of nine 10-year permits issued by the Corps.

Line in the Sand – US EPA Calls for Area-wide Impact Study for S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension

Line in the Sand – US EPA Calls for Area-wide Impact Study for S. Ft. Meade Mine Extension

In their letter the EPA reminded the Corps that the Peace River watershed is of special importance to both the state and the federal government, and that EPA has stated in documents dating back to the summer of 2007 that “…this mine expansion project, as well as any proposed mining projects within the Peace River phosphate region, a current, area-wide Environmental Impact Statement is most needed in order to address the extensive cumulative impacts and changes to these watersheds due to the phosphate mining industry.

The rugged Peace River flows into an uncertain new decade

The rugged Peace River flows into an uncertain new decade
Charlotte Florida Weekly

Perhaps by dark night or quiet morning when Ernie Estevez slides into the gentle waters of the lower Peace River — when sometimes little or no sign of a century of hard use exists up river or down — he begins to think of it as the Tallackchopo, so named by the Seminoles in tribute to the wild peas once said to cover its banks.

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Mosaic ad campaign hides the truth about phosphate mining

Mosaic ad campaign hides the truth about phosphate mining
Sarasota Herald Tribune, 12/15/09

Recently many Florida newspapers carried a 12-page advertising supplement from The Mosaic Co. with images of happy families and wildlife. Mosaic is the large Minnesota-based corporation which operates almost all of the phosphate mines in Central Florida.

[Read More]

Judge revokes permit for Mirasol development

Judge revokes permit for Mirasol development
Naples Daily News, 10/26/09

A coalition of five environmental organizations – National Wildlife Federation, Florida Wildlife Federation, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Collier County Audubon Society and National Audubon Society, opposing golf course and residential developments in a wetland slough flowing from Corkscrew Swamp, saw their federal lawsuit decided in their favor. Federal circuit court judge Jose Martinez has ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers did not do adequate accounting of the cumulative impacts to this watershed due to numerous developments being proposed in wetlands. In response to thelawsuit the environmental groups filed against the Corps and the US Fish and Wildlife Service back in 2008, Judge Martinez revoked the federal permit to destroy 645 acres of wetlands for Mirasol and invalidated the biological opinion written by the USFWS on level of threat to endangered wood storks nesting at Corkscrew Swamp. The environmental coalition has also filed a similar lawsuit against the adjacent Saturnia Falls project and anticipate a ruling on this case soon.

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