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 could be situated on an elevated geological terrace known 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 utility for ‘Section One’ of the proposed mine in July 2019, requesting permission to discharge dredged and fill materials into a minimum of 587 acres of jurisdictional wetlands and 4,658 linear ft of jurisdictional streams, which might destroy these aquatic assets.
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 evaluation. 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 Influence Assertion (EIS) to be ready, an intensive environmental evaluation 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, known 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 nearly not one of the beforehand protected wetlands on the mine website have been jurisdictional beneath 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 Range have filed an environmental lawsuit in opposition to 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 reduction for his or her alleged arbitrary and capricious reinstatement of accepted jurisdictional determinations in violation of the Administrative Process Act. We’ll proceed to battle for the safety of the Okefenokee Nationwide Wildlife Refuge and the dear ecosystem and assets it holds.