Tag Archives: Environmental Protection Agency

Okefenokee Swamp on GWC Dirty Dozen because Titanium Mine 2019-11-14

Announced yesterday to press across Georgia and beyond, the titanium mine near Georgia and Florida’s Okefenokee Swamp proposed by Twin Pines Minerals of Alabama made the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen (see also PDF).

You can still file a comment with the Army Corps and GA-EPD asking them to reject the mine or at least require an Environmental Impact Statement. Convenience for miners is no excuse to risk the fishing, boating, and birding in the swamp and hunting and forestry nearby.

[Closeup]
Closeup of TPM equipment on mine site from GA 94 westbound.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, November 14, 2019

2019’s
Worst Offenses Against
GEORGIA’S WATER
OKEFENOKEE SWAMP, ST. MARYS AND SUWANNEE RIVERS

Proposed 2,400-Acre Titanium Mine Threatens Signature Landscape of Georgia

INTRODUCTION:

Twenty years ago when chemical giant DuPont proposed mining titanium dioxide ore near the Okefenokee Swamp, opposition to the plan was so strong— Continue reading

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida

A resolution supporting the TPM mine is on the agenda for the Charlton County Commission meeting, 6PM this Thursday, August 15, 2019, 68 Kingsland Drive, Folkston, GA. Especially if you live in Charlston County, please go to that meeting and object. Even better, contact your County Commissioner before the meeting.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed 2019-08-13]
Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed 2019-08-13

Suwannee Riverkeeper op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, yesterday, August 13, 2019:

Swamp more important than miners under Consent Order in Florida

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) promises jobs, taxes, and low impact to mine for titanium between Moniac and St. George, on property that extends up to the Okefenokee NWR.

People from Baker, Bradford, and Union Counties, Florida, say they don’t know any locals who have the mine jobs promised by Chemours. The TPM application for Charlton County promises Continue reading

Consent Order, FDEP v. Chemours involving Twin Pines Minerals 2019-02-07

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) is cited in a consent order on Chemours mines, for failure to collect data, spilling waste through silt fences and not cleaning it up, and being out of compliance on numerous counts, including radium and iron, in the Suwannee, St. Johns, and St. Mary’s River basins in Florida.

[Four times spelled out]
Four times spelled out, on four different pages

This is the same TPM that has applied to mine titanium in Charlton County, Georgia, near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers.

[TPM, GA and Chemours FL mines]
TPM, GA and Chemours FL mines

You can read the Consent Order yourself: Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading

Excluding groundwater makes no sense above the Florida Aquifer –WWALS to EPA 2019-04-15

Approved at the Sunday WWALS board meeting and filed last night via regulations.gov as PDF.


April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,
       Revised Definition of Waters of United States

To Whom it May Concern:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), also known as Suwannee Riverkeeper, submits the following comments on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) proposed rule entitled “Revised Definition of Waters of United States,” 84 Federal Register 4154-01 (February 14, 2019) (hereinafter “Proposed Rule”).

In addition to supporting the comments of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), WWALS adds these comments on groundwater.

The Proposed Rule’s categorical exclusion of groundwater makes no sense here above the Floridan Aquifer where surface water and groundwater constantly interchange, and pollutants travelling through groundwater are a frequent source of health, environmental, and economic problems.

[2019-04-15--WWALS-to-EPA-0001]
2019-04-15–WWALS-to-EPA-0001

This proposed exclusion of groundwater is called out repeatedly in the Proposed Rule, starting with this:

Continue reading

Help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins in Georgia

We asked the state of Georgia to upgrede our main Suwannee River Basin rivers (and some lakes and swamps) from their current lowest water quality classification as Fishing to what they really are: Recreational Use. You can help!

[Georgia landings in Suwannee River Basin]

Every three years, federal law requires each state to review its water quality standards. 2019 is such a year for Georgia, so the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) is conducting a Triennial Review. The request WWALS sent to GA-EPD, background, and their response are all on the WWALS website. Our request was rather long, with 23 pages asking for reclassification of the Suwannee River, the Okefenokee Swamp, the Alapaha River, Lake Irma, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, the Withlacoochee River, the Little River, and Reed Bingham State Park Lake, all from Fishing to Recreational Use. The WWALS cover letter is included at the end of this blog post. For the rest, see the WWALS website.

The response thus far from GA-EPD has some good news: Continue reading

FGT pipeline noise, Suwannee County 2018-02-25

It sounded like a jet engine Wednesday evening, said a WWALS member as a pipeline let loose in Suwannee County. (Hear it for yourself in WWALS videos four days later.) Was it a leak? A planned release? A road construction break? We get no answers, just runarounds, from the federal and state agencies that permitted all the interstate natural gas pipelines into Florida. They passed the buck to Suwannee County Fire Rescue. At least Suwannee BOCC opposed the Sabal Trail pipeline and approved a solar farm.

Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS 2018-02-25 of FGT pipeline at Suwannee Oaks Drive.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS 2018-02-25 of FGT at Suwannee Oaks Drive.

Neighbors preparing to evacuate February 21, 2018, confirmed the location: just north of 208th Street, at Continue reading

Motion to reject FERC DSEIS, to take Sabal Trail out of service, and to revoke its permit: WWALS to FERC 2017-12-29

reopen the whole basis of the FERC 2016 Order, Filing FERC, if it follows its own rules, should reject the DSEIS, stop Sabal Trail, and revoke its permit, says a motion filed today with FERC by Suwannee Riverkeeper.

Followup blog posts will feature major sections and arguments from these 20 pages with their 93 footnotes. The basic arguments are summarized on the first page:

WWALS argues that no SEIS can be complete without accounting for GHG from Liquid Natural Gas (“LNG”) exports, nor without comparing natural gas to solar power, according to precedents already set by FPL, FERC, and others, which also reopen the whole basis of the FERC 2016 Order.

FERC may not care, but the D.C. Circuit Court may, or candidates for office, or the voting public.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!


Filed with FERC today as Continue reading

EPA perfunctory Lack of Objections to FERC Sabal Trail DSEIS 2017-11-20

EPA doesn’t even remember when it sent its own greenhouse gas (GHG) comments to FERC, forgets that it already told FERC nevermind, and now says, despite copious evidence filed by Senators, professors, Riverkeepers, and environmental organizations from multiple states as far away as Colorado, that FERC’s incorrect and inadequate Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statemen (FSEIS) rates “Lack of Objections or “LO””.

EPA to FERC, Re: SMPP This latest EPA letter is dated November 20, 2017, but FERC didn’t inform intervenors about it until today, two weeks later. The EPA letter claims:

The EPA commented on the FEIS on January 25, 2016. In those comments the EPA provided several recommendations including that the FERC consider a detailed evaluation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in future analyses.

Yet FERC’s Docket CP15-17 shows no comment by EPA in January 2016. It does show this same G. Alan Farmer, Director, Resource Conservation and Restoration Division, EPA, wrote a letter to FERC filed 1 December 2015 as Accession Number 20171201-0034 (see also WWALS blog post), in which he said nothing I can see about greenhouse gases, but he did basically say “nevermind” to EPA’s extensive letter of October 26, 2015, filed as Accession Number 0151102-0219 (clean text on the WWALS website), which October letter did include: Continue reading