free counter

Company: Legal settlement puts Okefenokee mine back on the right track

SAVANNAH, Ga. — An organization wanting to mine in Georgia close to the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp’s vast wildlife refuge said Monday that its project is back on the right track following a federal agency reversed a June decision that had posed a large setback.

Twin Pines Minerals said the Army Corps of Engineers has decided to settle case filed by the business by once more relinquishing the agency’s regulatory oversight of the proposed mine in southeast Georgia close to the Okefenokee, home to the biggest U.S. wildlife refuge east of the Mississippi River.

We appreciate the Corps willingness to reverse itself and make things right,” Twin Pines President Steve Ingle said in a statement, calling the development very good news” for the project.

Scientists have warned that mining near to the swamps bowl-like rim could damage its capability to hold water. They urged the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the project a permit. However the agency declared in 2020 it no more had that authority after regulatory rollbacks under then-President Donald Trump narrowed the forms of waterways qualifying for protection beneath the Clean Water Act.

Trumps rollbacks were later scrapped by federal courts. President Joe Bidens administration has sought to revive federal oversight of development projects that under Trump have been permitted to sidestep regulations to avoid pollution of streams or draining of wetlands.

In June, the Army Corps notified Twin Pines that its prior decisions allowing the business to bypass federal regulators aren’t valid just because a tribal government with ancestral ties to the proposed mining site was not consulted. The agency said the Georgia project couldn’t progress without consultation with the Muscogee Creek Nation.

Twin Pines quickly sued the Army Corps in U.S. District Court, arguing the agency was asserting jurisdiction the government will not possess. The business noted the Corps’ finding from October 2020 that it lacked jurisdiction on the mining project ought to be valid for five years.

A copy of the settlement, which Twin Pines provided to The Associated Press, says the Army Corps will honor that five-year span unless new information surfaces that triggers the agency to revisit whether it will reclaim oversight of the project close to the Okefenokee.

Cheri Pritchard, a spokesman for the Army Corps’ Savannah District, said she cannot comment and referred a reporter to the Justice Department, which had attorneys represent the agency in the Twin Pines lawsuit. A contact message to the Justice Department seeking comment Monday evening had not been immediately returned.

Without oversight by the Army Corps, the only real regulatory approval Alabama-based Twin Pines needs is from Georgias Environmental Protection Division. The proposed mining area includes a lot more than 556 acres (225 hectares) of wetlands.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge covers nearly 630 square miles (1,630 square kilometers) in southeast Georgia and houses alligators, bald eagles along with other protected species. The swamps wildlife, cypress forests and flooded prairies draw roughly 600,000 visitors every year, based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge.

2 decades ago, chemical giant DuPont retreated from plans to mine beyond your Okefenokee after meeting fierce resistance. Twin Pines wants permits to mine a part of the acreage DuPont pursued. Ingle has insisted his company can mine the website without harming the swamp.

Government scientists have already been skeptical. In February 2019, the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote that the proposed mine could pose substantial risks to the swamp, including its capability to hold water. Some impacts, it said, might not be in a position to be reversed, repaired, or mitigated for.

Read More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker