Tag Archives: WATERKEEPER Alliance

Thanks for helping defeat GA HB 545 Right to Harm bill

After an amendment in the Georgia Senate that made it not quite as bad, HB 545 stalled in the House, and time ran out in the Georgia legislature.

So thank you, all who helped defeat this bad bill that would have made it easier for North Carolina-style industrial hog farms to move into Georgia.

That includes voters in Georgia, and anybody from Florida who helped. As we all know, contamination getting into rivers in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia often runs downstream into Florida.

Tomahawk Creek Breach
Waterkeeper Alliance, 20 September 2018, Waterkeepers Identify Multiple CAFO and Coal Ash Spills Following Hurricane Florence

Jessica Szilagyl, AllOnGeorgia, 1 July 2020, Ga Legislature Fails to Give Final Passage to Ag Nuisance/‘Right to Farm’ Bill,

A lobbyist-backed initiative endorsed by the Georgia Farm Bureau that placed rural Georgians in a duel of private property rights against farm protections failed to cross the finish line before the Georgia General Assembly adjourned for the year.

House Bill 545, donned the ‘Right to Farm’ bill, was revised a number of times before the final day of the 2019-2020 legislative session, but lawmakers could not negotiate the measure to a point of consensus in order to change the law.

There’s more detail in the story.

Brief version: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The existing law was not broken, and now the bad fake fix has been defeated.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Tens of thousands commented against a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp

Hahira, Georgia, May 30, 2020 — From every U.S. state and beyond, tens of thousands comments poured in to the Army Corps against a permit application for a titanium strip mine far too near the unique blackwater gem of the Okefenokee Swamp. The comment period ended Thursday. You and your elected officials can still ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the right thing and deny this permit, or at least require an Environmental Impact Statement.

[44,000 commenters against strip mine on a map]
44,000 commenters against strip mine on a map

“With its unique ecosystem and incomparable beauty,” says Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “the Okefenokee Swamp is a national and international treasure, and the source of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers. With its opportunities for boating, birding, fishing, photography, adventure, and hunting nearby attracting 600,000 visitors a year and supporting more than 700 jobs, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) provides more economic benefit to each of Georgia and Florida than any other refuge.”

The groups supporting the Swamp and opposing the mine include twenty Waterkeepers from three states, and umbrella organizations Waterkeepers Florida and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org, 229-242-0102.

See below for a longer press release from Georgia River Network about the several dozen organizations loosely associated to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from anything that might harm it, such as this strip mine for private profit for paint.


Tens of Thousands Voice Opposition Over Mine Proposed to be Located Next to the Okefenokee Swamp

Continue reading

Last day to comment to the Corps against strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-05-28

Today is the last public comment day to ask the Corps to stop a strip mine so close to the Okefenokee Swamp you can see both from a few hundred feet up.

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Drone aerials of titanium mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-11-23.

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told Georgia Sen. Purdue last November,

“The initial project location is the farthest that mining activity would be from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) boundary and the Okefenokee Swamp. Any additional mining that occurs within the 12,000-acre permit area would be closer to the refuge. The northwest boundary of the permit area is within a half mile from the refuge boundary and 400 feet from the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.”

FWS also spelled out the bottom line: “It is the responsibility of the permit applicant to demonstrate what the extent of impacts of the project will be to surrounding natural resources.”

And the applicant still has not done that, not even in its second application.

A few miners profiting by selling titanium dioxide for paint is nowhere near sufficient reason to risk the unique treasure that is the Okefenokee Swamp, which is also the headwaters of both the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers.

Please comment to the Corps

Today you can still ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop this strip mine:
To: CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Be sure to ask the Corps to deny the permit, or at least to require an Environmental Impact Statement.

Or use the convenient comment form in this Action Alert by Waterkeeper Alliance:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/take-action-protect-okefenokee-swamp-from-a-titanium-mine/

Or this convenient comment form by Georgia River Network:
https://www.congressweb.com/GEAN/225

For far more information about this bad strip-mining proposal, see:
http://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

More testing needed to track river pollution –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Gainesville Sun 2020-03-16

Gainesville Sun, 12:01 AM, Monday, March 16, 2020, John S. Quarterman: More testing needed to track river pollution (see also PDF),

Fecal bacterial contamination from Georgia probably reached the Gulf of Mexico about March 3, 2020, according to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

[Tifton to the Gulf]
Tifton to the Gulf
In the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

The good news: we know about that, because of much more water quality monitoring being done since I wrote a column about the issue last year for The Sun.

This recent testing was provoked by a spill of 7.5 million gallons of raw sewage into Sugar Creek near Valdosta, Ga., in December. With no rain, the sewage sat there for a week, and then moved down the Withlacoochee River in about three weekly globs, at least once reaching the Suwannee.

This Valentine’s Day, Valdosta exceeded our request, testing not one but Continue reading

Supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp ready to stop new strip mine application by Twin Pines Minerals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, March 16, 2020 — The coalition of supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp against anything that would harm it stands ready to stop the new strip mine application, same as the old one.

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) of Birmingham, Alabama, in its new application claims its proposed titanium strip mine less than three miles from the Okefenokee Swamp would be on a “reduced mining area,” which is actually 86% of what they proposed last time. They say they want to do a “demonstration” mine.

[Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine]
Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine
PDF

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says, “Let their foot in the door and it will be even harder to get rid of them later. TPM is under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for violations at four mines due south in north Florida. Chemours now wants a fifth Florida titanium mine on Trail Ridge. Why would we think TPM would stop with just a nibble of Trail Ridge in Georgia? Our Okefenokee Swamp with its fishing, boating, birding, and hunting nearby, is much more important than any mine, especially since it is the headwaters of the Suwannee River and the St Marys River.”

Despite TPM’s assurances, the miners have not proven their mining would not affect the groundwater, the underlying Floridan Aquifer, surface streams, or the Okefenokee Swamp.

Their application form proposes to mine 1041.7 acres, the same size tract as in their application of last year that they retracted in early January of this year. But their actual application says “TPM now wishes to conduct a demonstration mining project for a reduced mining area of approximately 898 acres.”

86% of the original acreage is not much reduced. And how is that just a demonstration?

No doubt you will hear more about that and other problems with the miners’ application from the coalition supporting the Swamp and opposing anything that would harm it. That coalition includes a wide range of organizations, Continue reading

U.S. EPA still says mine would have substantial and unacceptable impact –Suwannee Riverkeeper 2019-12-31

In the Charlton County Herald, December 31, 2019:


Dear Editor,

The burden of proof is still on the miners to show their mine would not damage the Swamp or the Rivers, and they have not met that burden.

U.S. EPA still finds that “the proposed project will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance.”

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Anonymous drone aerial of heavy equipment on the mining site 2019-11-23.
River Styx is in the background, Okefenokee Swamp is on the horizon.
St. Marys River flows out top left horizon. Suwannee River flows out far side of Swamp.

That’s about “the permit application submitted by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC” for a titanium strip mine. “The proposed 2,414-acre mine area lies in proximity to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and the potential secondary effects of the mine on the NWR have not been demonstrated by the permit applicant.”

This is the second letter EPA has sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the mining application is deficient. We obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The entire letter is here: http://wwals.net/?p=50931.

You, too, can still comment to the USACE, and all comments they receive before the Corps announces a decision can be used in any potential lawsuits. The addresses are: Continue reading

Thanks to organizations for the Okefenokee Swamp, against the Titanium Mine

Thanks to the more than two dozen organizations, local, regional, statewide in Florida and Georgia, national, and international, that oppose the titanium mine that would be far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) provides boating, birding, fishing, and hunting nearby to the tune of more than $60 million a year and more than 700 jobs, making it the NWR of most economic benefit to each of Georgia and Florida. The Okefenokee Swamp is a unique ecological treasure, and is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers. The burden of proof is on the miners, and they have not met it.

[Organizations For Okefenokee Swamp, Against Titanium Mine]
Organizations For Okefenokee Swamp, Against Titanium Mine
PDF
Add your organization here: https://forms.gle/Dyqc77EBsjXBsz93A

You can still file a comment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If the Corps actually issues a permit, which they may in the next few weeks, anything filed can be used in any ensuing lawsuit.

Exactly how many organizations oppose that strip mine is hard to say, since Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida passes resolution against titanium mine application near Okefenokee Swamp

Waterkeepers Florida asks the Army Corps to require Twin Pines Minerals to supply all the information missing from its application for a titanium mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to hold Public Hearings, including in Florida, and “to answer how the Corps has or will determine that the Applicant’s proposed mine would not adversely affect the Okefenokee Swamp, the St. Marys River, the Suwannee River, the Floridan Aquifer, or the State of Florida.”

You can also still comment to the Army Corps.

[TPM Equipment closeup, Wayne Morgan]
TPM Equipment closeup Photo: Wayne Morgan for Suwannee Riverkeeper on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

Continue reading

A Bill of Rights for Nature

Update 2020-02-20: Santa Fe Bill of Rights for Nature (SAFEBOR) petition.

Update 2020-02-19: Waterkeepers Florida for home rule, against state pre-emption of environmental ordinances 2020-02-14.

Update 2020-02-09: Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08.

Does it seem most of the agencies, laws, and rules are rigged for big corporations and against local private property rights, against local fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting, and against organizations like Riverkeepers and Waterkeepers?

Turbidity curtains and black pipe from the north bank
View from the south bank of Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline turbidity curtains and pipe, collecting drilling fluid frac-out from pilot hole, taken from the north bank of the Withlacoochee River, about 2000 feet upstream from the US 84 bridge.
Photo: John S. Quarterman, October 22nd 2016.

One approach to change that is a Bill of Rights for Nature (BOR), to change the legal structure so rivers, swamps, aquifers, lakes, etc. presumptively have rights that corporations have to prove they are not violating.

For example, Suwannee Riverkeeper is helping oppose a company that wants to mine titanium within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which all of south Georgia and north Florida drinks.

http://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

[Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100]
Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38.
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

We shouldn’t have to get more than 20,000 comments sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (you can still comment) pointing out that the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge contributes far more jobs (700+) and other economic benefits (more than $60 million/year) to the region and to Florida and Georgia than even the wildest promises of the miners (150-200 as in the application? 300? 350, as they told some reporters?), and the mine would risk all that, including boating, fishing, and birding in the Swamp and hunting around it. We should be able to point to the rights of the Swamp, Rivers, and Aquifer, and the miners should have to prove beyond a shadow a doubt that they would not violate them.

When the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly refused to grant easements for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline to drill under Georgia rivers, Continue reading

WWALS at South Georgia Pride Saturday 2019-09-21

Come on down to the South Georgia Pride Festival in Saunders Park in Valdosta this Saturday. At the WWALS booth you can play the froggy toss game and talk about our outings and advocacy, including how you can volunteer to help keep our waters clean!

When: Noon-5PM, Saturday, September 21, 2019

Where: John W. Saunders Park, 1151 River Street, Valdosta, Georgia

Event: facebook

[Froggy Toss]
Froggy Toss

Maybe we’ll do water quality tests on Sugar Creek. Continue reading