Tag Archives: Law

GA-EPD GORA response about Ray City wastewater permit violations 2021-04-05

Ray City has had a long string of wastewater violations, many each year, going back years, at its wastewater treatment plant on Cat Creek, just below Beaverdam Creek, and 8.36 Cat Creek miles upstream from the Withlacoochee River.

[Catwalk, Outfall, Fecal coliform]
Catwalk, Outfall, Fecal coliform

Most of them did not involve fecal bacteria, but two did, on monthly average, for December 2018 (see page 57), for August 2017 (see page 73). Curiously, none of these violations ever showed up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, nor in its underlying spreadsheet going back to 2015, which is as far back as I have it. We have some idea why not about the January and February 2021 Total Suspended Solids (TSS) overflows, but not about the previous incidents.

In response to a Notice of Violation of September 22, 2020, on November 2, 2020, the City of Ray City told GA-EPD it was “in the process of developing a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to address the issue of non-compliance with the 85% Minimum BOD removal rate stipulated in our NPDES Permit.“ The City proposed to change its sampling method to deal with “periodic low influent BOD levels”, and also to get on with dealing with the “high volumes of infiltration and inflow“ it says is the cause, including filing an application for a CDBG grant before the end of March 2021.

Thanks to Jay Howell of the EPD Southwest office in Albany for scanning and emailing to me the documents of my Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) request of last week. I asked for all the enforcement actions on Ray City that I found listed on EPA ECHO, (see the previous post) together with related correspondence. documents and emailing them to me yesterday. They are on the WWALS website. Update 2021-04-07: website page labels fixed for this GORA document.

This November 2020 CAP is apparently a new one, after the CAP accepted by GA-EPD on June 19, 2019, and submitted by the City on May 2, 2019: Continue reading

Notice of SRWMD appeal of Nestle decision, purchase one tract, conservation easement another, Suwannee River, SRWMD Board 2021-04-13

The SRWMD board will decide next Tuesday on a land acquisition and a conservation easement amendment on two different parcels on the Suwannee River.

Plus SRWMD legal counsel was prodded by citizen petitions into filing a notice of appeal of SRWMD’s own Nestlé decision to approve that permit, and the Board now has to agree or do something else.

You can attend in person if you get there early enough to get one of the limited seats, or remotely via the usual GoToWebinar https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1866408207680852239 and dialin 1-888-585-9008, Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #. If you want to speak, don’t forget to fill out the public comment form: www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/Comments The board packet is on the WWALS website.

[SRWMD appeals its own Nestle order, acquisition, easement, steps]
SRWMD appeals its own Nestle order, acquisition, easement, steps

Agenda Item No. 14 – Lasky Tract Acquisition, Gilchrist County starts on page 29.

Agenda Item No. 15 – Warner-Harrell Conservation Easement starts on page 35. It’s all so somebody can build at their own expense some steps down to a sinkhole.

In more evidence the attorneys really run SRWMD, legal counsel George T. Reeves filed a notice of appeal of the SRWMD Board’s own decision in the Nestle case, and did it after the last SRWMD Board meeting. This only happened because persons un-named by counsel petitioned the SRWMD board at that last meeting that &ldqou;since Seven Springs did not own or control the Facility, the Renewal Permit should not have been issued.” That is the same reason the SRWMD issued its decision “under protest”. Since the SRWMD Board did not go ahead and file its own notice of appeal, the petitioners plan to appeal to the Division of Administrative Hearings. So SRWMD counsel filed a notice of appeal on behalf of SRWMD so SRWMD could be a party. The Board can agree with that at this meeting, or do what exactly instead is not clear.

On pages 14 and 15 of the board packet: Continue reading

Late again: Strom Inc. semi-annual report to DoE FE about Crystal River LNG 2021-04-04

Strom, Inc., is late again, like last year when it didn’t file its April report until June 12, 2020.

[Missing Strom LNG semi-annual report, Port of Tampa, Jamaica and Puerto Rico]
Missing Strom LNG semi-annual report, Port of Tampa, Jamaica and Puerto Rico

This does not bode well for Strom’s Crystal River liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities “to commence commercial operations in the fourth quarter of 2022”, as it promised then and again in its October 2020 report, which it filed on October 26, 2020.

You’d think the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) would send Strom a reminder. But as usual, we may have to do it. And we have questions. Continue reading

FERC gets inland LNG half right, for Puerto Rico, and maybe more soon 2021-03-18

FERC actually told New Fortress Energy (NFE) it has 180 days to file an application for authorization to operate its Puerto Rico liquid natural gas (LNG) facility. I’m happy to admit I did not expect this.

[FERC Order and WWALS LNG facilty map]
FERC Order and WWALS LNG facilty map

Yet FERC failed to tell NFE to shut down meanwhile: “We also find that allowing operation of the facility to continue during the pendency of an application is in the public interest.” Translation: it would cost a fossil fuel company income.

But the best part is in a concurring letter. Continue reading

Ray City sewage spill in Berrien Press 2021-03-24

Update 2021-04-07: GA-EPD GORA response about Ray City wastewater permit violations 2021-04-05.

The bad news: Ray City, Georgia, had not one, but two wastewater spills this year. The good news: they were both mostly treated effluent, and Fecal coliform levels were well within limits.

[Process Flow, Spill Report, Map: Ray City, Cat Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Process Flow, Spill Report, Map: Ray City, Cat Creek, Withlacoochee River

Why was it a spill, then? It exceeded limits of total suspended solids (TSS).

How did we find out about this? Informants (who shall remain nameless unless I confirm they want to be named) told us that Ray City Council minutes for January and February mentioned water quality tests being within GA-EPD limits, but did not say why this was relevant. But this appeared in the Berrien Press on March 24, 2021: Continue reading

FERC listening sessions, Office of Public Participation 2021-03-17

The first of these is today at 1PM: “listening sessions” about the formation of FERC’s new Office of Public Participation (OPP). They are voice dial-in only.

[Sabal Trail pipeline gouging, FERC Office of Public Participation]
Sabal Trail pipeline gouging, FERC Office of Public Participation

Here is the invitation the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sent on March 9, 2021: Continue reading

GA-EPD permit process for Twin Pines strip mine too near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-02-08

This fact sheet from a month ago says the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) will hold “a public meeting” and “Comments will also be accepted at TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov. It’s not clear what they will do with comments if you go ahead and send them to that address. Since any such correspondence would be public record, retrievable via open records request, it would be odd if GA-EPD did not consider those comments in their permit review process.

[GA-EPD Fact Sheet, TPM Mine, and Okefenokee NWR]
GA-EPD Fact Sheet, TPM Mine, and Okefenokee NWR

Checking with GA-EPD this morning, the public hearing is not expected to be scheduled for several months yet, because they’re still waiting for documents that the miners did not previously supply. Plus they are communicating with the Army Corps about documents the Corps received before abdicating responsibility. Apparently the GA-EPD Land Division is taking the lead, perhaps because this is a mining project, near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River.

It’s good GA-EPD is being thorough, although this last paragraph casts some doubt on that: “ Any additional mining operations not included in the demonstration area will be considered new and unique and will require a new set of permits and a full permitting process.”

[Map: Twin Pines Minerals land and Okefenokee NWR]
Map: Twin Pines Minerals land and Okefenokee NWR
in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and the Okefenokee NWR Canoe Trails.

Sure and if that happens the miners will claim they have sunk costs and they’ll sue if they don’t get further permits. So expansion should be considered along with the original permit applications. And it’s much better to nip this whole thing in the bud.

Here are four of the five permit applications to GA-EPD from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC:
https://wwals.net/2020/11/05/twin-pines-minerals-permit-applications-to-ga-epd/

Since GA-EPD has confirmed they did actually receive an Air Quality permit application, I guess it’s time for me to request that one again.

GA-EPD has a Twin Pines Minerals, LLC web page, whic currently has a link to this one one-page PDF fact sheet.

[Twin Pines Minerals LLC Permitting Fact Sheet]
Twin Pines Minerals LLC Permitting Fact Sheet
PDF


GEORGIA
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES   
Environmental Protection Division

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC
Permitting Fact Sheet
 

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has submitted environmental permit applications to the Environmental Protection Division (Division) proposing a demonstration project for mining heavy minerals sands near St. George, Charlton County, Georgia. The northern boundary of the site is located approximately 2.9 miles southeast from the nearest boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

How many permit applications have been submitted?

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has applied for environmental permits from all branches of the Environmental Protection Division (Division). These permits are the same as those that may be required for any surface mine: NPDES Industrial Stormwater, NPDES Industrial Wastewater, Groundwater Withdrawal, Air Quality, and Surface Mining Permit. The Division is early in the process of conducting a thorough review of each of the applications received.

How will the Division ensure the Okefenokee is being protected?

The Surface Mining Land Use Plan (MLUP) will require an addendum detailing the environmental provisions for protection of the environment and resources of the State. Once this environmental provision addendum is received, the Division will conduct an initial review and ensure it is complete and adequate, with a focus on how the project’s proximity to the National Wildlife Refuge may impact the area’s groundwater hydrology.

Will public be able to provide comments?

Yes. After the Division has reviewed the MLUP and the environmental provisions addendum, a public meeting will be held to receive comments on these documents and to provide an update on the permitting process. Comments will also be accepted at TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov. We will then consider all public comments and request the applicant make any necessary changes to address those comments. Please note, the Division may be unable to respond individually to each comment received. However, we will post a collective response to comments on our website after the official comment period closes.

Once the MLUP and the environmental provisions addendum are finalized, the Division will proceed with the draft permit process, including a public notice and comment period on the Surface Mining permit as well as any additional public comment periods required for the other permits. These permits are for the proposed 740-acre demonstration mining area.

Will the mine be able to expand after it is permitted?

Any additional mining operations not included in the demonstration area will be considered new and unique and will require a new set of permits and a full permitting process.

February 8, 2021


 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Fossil fuel forever bills in Georgia and Florida legislatures

Do these bills sound just as bad? You can help stop them, including in a committee meeting this morning.

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Title 46 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to public utilities and public transportation, so as to prohibit governmental entities from adopting any policy that prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility service based upon the type or source of energy or fuel; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes. —GA SB 102

Mirrored across the GA-FL line:

Preemption on Restriction of Utility Services; Prohibiting municipalities, counties, special districts, or other political subdivisions from enacting or enforcing provisions or taking actions that restrict or prohibit the types or fuel sources of energy production which may be used, delivered, converted, or supplied to customers by specified entities; providing for preemption; providing for retroactive application, etc. —FL SB 1128

The words have been stirred, but the bills are essentially the same. Except the Florida bill goes for full unconstitutional ex post facto law with “providing for retroactive application”.

This stuff stinks of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange, the private shadow government in which industry representatives and state legislators vote together on model bills that the state reps take back and try to pass. If they succeed, they become ALEC alumnae. ALEC or not, they’re bad bills that should not pass.

GA SB 102 has already been voted out of committee in the Georgia Senate, and its equivalent already passed the Georgia House.

FL SB 1128 is scheduled this morning at 9AM, March 16, 2021, for its second committee, Community Affairs, 03/16/21, 9:00 am, 37 Senate Building.

In the same committee meeting this morning is another of these:

State Preemption of Transportation Energy Infrastructure Regulations; Preempting the regulation of transportation energy infrastructure to the state; prohibiting a local government from taking specified actions relating to the regulation of transportation energy infrastructure, etc. —SB 856: State Preemption of Transportation Energy Infrastructure Regulations

Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Sabal Trail pipeline drilling at night 2016-12-02
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Sabal Trail pipeline drill site near Withlacoochee River in Georgia 2016-12-02.

The Florida bills seems to have inadvertently missed listing Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), possibly because their authors thought “petroleum products” covered that (it doesn’t). Not to worry: “but is not limited to.”

Also, this is not just about directly passing an ordinance against fossil fuels, which most local governments already knew wouldn’t work. SB 856 would create Florida Statutes Section 377.707, with (1)(b):

Amending its comprehensive plan, Continue reading

A fifty-river-mile national park and preserve on the Ocmulgee River?

The National Park Service is studying expanding Ocmulgee Mounds National Park down the Ocmulgee River from Macon to Hawkinsville, Georgia. This could set an interesting precedent for other potential park or other initiatives in south Georgia or north Florida.

ONPPI

By March 26, 2021, you can fill in the NPS Survey online. Or send them a paper letter to:

National Park Service
Denver Service Center
Attn: Ocmulgee River Corridor SRS / Charles Lawson
12795 West Alameda Parkway, Lakewood CO 80228

To learn more before you comment, the citizen group ONPPI (Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative) has a website and a facebook page.

For details, NPS has a 24-page Environmental Context Report and a 64-page Historical and Cultural Context Report. Or you can peruse the 269 pages of the JOHN D. DINGELL, JR. CONSERVATION, MANAGEMENT, AND RECREATION ACT, PUBLIC LAW 116–9—MAR. 12, 2019

If your eyes are extremely tough, you can try the NPS grey-on-black story map.

Protecting bears, birds, reptiles, forests, swamps, river, historical sites, and a sizeable section of the homeland of the Muscogee Creek Nation seems worthwhile to me, and beneficial far beyond the prospective park area.

I am aware that there is some opposition based on potential restriction of hunting in such a new park. If that’s your concern, you can send it in. But please consider the upside: conserving enough river and woods for wildlife to survive, without which there won’t be anything to hunt.

Here is the press release, by Ben West and Charles Lawson, National Park Service, 26 January 2021, National Park Service Invites Public Input into the Ocmulgee River Corridor Special Resource Study, Continue reading

Capitol Conservation Day 2021-03-03

No need to trek to Atlanta this year to show Georgia state legislators that many people and organizations throughout the state care about water. Capitol Conservation Day is online, this Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

When: 12-1:30 PM, Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Where: Online: register here
https://nwf-org.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAodumqpzgsHtNgHr3nLG6rX7m4gw_7fY_f

Event: facebook
Don’t forget to register, then you can click Going on the facebook event to encourage others.

What: Experts from the Georgia Water Coalition will brief you on important legislative issues. Then you will put your new skills and information to work! Following the event, meet with your local legislators virtually to advocate in support of important legislation.

[2019 and 2020]
2019 and 2020

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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