Environmentalists Score Phosphate Mine Victory in Florida Wetland

October 6, 2008
4:00 PM

Environmentalists Score Phosphate Mine Victory

CONTACT: Earthjustice
David Guest/Monica Reimer, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031
Environmentalists Score Phosphate Mine Victory
Project that would have destroyed 480 acres of wetlands halted

BRADENTON, Fla. – October 6 – Earthjustice scored a major win today when
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit that gave Mosaic
Phosphate the go-ahead to destroy 480 acres of high-quality wetlands
within the Peace River watershed.

“This permit suspension is a victory for the people of Manatee County and
everyone who lives in the Peace River basin” said Earthjustice attorney
Monica Reimer. “This establishes that the permit should never have been
granted. It didn’t comply with the law.”

Earthjustice’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of Sierra Club, ManaSota-88,
People for Protecting Peace River (3PR), the Gulf Restoration Network, and
Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida contended that the Corps
“arbitrarily and capriciously” failed to critically review Mosaic’s
spurious claim that a man-made landscape, re-created after strip mining,
functions as well as, or better than, a natural landscape.

In its letter, the Corps said: “The Corps has determined that it is in the
public interest to revisit the analysis in support of the permit

On September 16, Manatee County commissioners debated whether to give
Mosaic the land use approvals it needs before it begins mining. One of
Mosaic’s claims in support of its application was that the federal permit
proved that the mining created no environmental risks.

“The Corps’ permit suspension serves as a vindication for the Manatee
County Commission, which acted properly in refusing to rubber stamp the
Altman mine proposal,” said Frank Jackalone of the Sierra Club.

Since the 1800’s, strip-mining has devastated well over 200,000 acres in
the Peace River watershed, which includes the destruction of over 35,000
acres of wetlands and 101.2 miles of streams. Of great concern is the fact
that Mosaic is currently seeking permits to mine 34,551 more acres within
that same watershed. Environmental groups contend that no permits should
be issued until the Corps performs a regional environmental impacts study
that takes a hard look at all the mining Mosaic intends to conduct in the

The Altman Tract has a mosaic of high-quality, interrelated wetlands and
uplands, all with important native vegetation and only minor man-made
impacts. It has deep marshes, shallow marshes, wet prairie, bay swamps,
and mixed forested wetlands. Water quality on the tract is very good, and
the tract is used by many threatened and rare species, including the
Florida Scrub Jay, gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake, Florida sandhill
crane, Florida mouse, and Southeastern American kestrel.


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