In 2018, Twin Pines introduced plans to strip-mine a 12,000-acre tract of land subsequent to the Okefenokee Nationwide Wildlife Refuge in 1,000-acre phases over a 30-year interval. The proposed mine can be situated on an elevated geological terrace referred to as Path Ridge that types the jap boundary of the Okefenokee, appearing as a pure dam that retains the swamp’s waters contained.
Twin Pines submitted its preliminary Clear Water Act allow software for ‘Section One’ of the proposed mine in July 2019, requesting permission to discharge dredged and fill materials into no less than 587 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and 4,658 linear ft of jurisdictional streams, which might destroy these aquatic sources.
The proposed strip mine by Twin Pines sparked instant concern and motion from our supporters. Over 20,000 people took the time to submit feedback opposing the mine and calling for heightened environmental overview. State and native elected officers additionally joined in on this name to motion, together with state and federal companies, and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation particularly requested a full Environmental Affect Assertion (EIS) to be ready, an intensive environmental overview required by the Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act. We’re grateful for the help of our neighborhood in standing up for the safety of the Okefenokee Nationwide Wildlife Refuge.
Nevertheless, through the remark course of, the Environmental Safety Company (EPA) and the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers (Corps) promulgated a brand new federal rule, referred to as the ‘Navigable Waters Safety Rule,’ that narrowed the definition of ‘waters of america’ and, in flip, the scope of waters protected by the Clear Water Act. This rule allowed Twin Pines to argue that just about not one of the beforehand protected wetlands on the mine web site had been jurisdictional underneath the brand new rule, regardless of having been decided to considerably have an effect on the integrity of conventional navigable waters.
The Nationwide Wildlife Refuge Affiliation, the Nationwide Parks Conservation Affiliation, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Middle for Organic Variety have filed an environmental lawsuit towards the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers and Michael Connor, in his official capability as Assistant Secretary of the Military for Civil Works, looking for declaratory aid for his or her alleged arbitrary and capricious reinstatement of permitted jurisdictional determinations in violation of the Administrative Process Act. We are going to proceed to combat for the safety of the Okefenokee Nationwide Wildlife Refuge and the valuable ecosystem and sources it holds.