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Manatee County FL Denies Phosphate Industry Permits
Manatee County, located on the Gulf of Mexico in west central Florida, is home to one of the largest ecosystems in the world. This area is one of the region’s largest wetlands (2) and forms the headwaters for area rivers supplying about fifteen percent of the Peace River basin. This particular region of Florida is used for freshwater reservoirs, cattle ranches, agriculture, and residential areas with new populations. This ecologically critical region is full of rivers, creeks, springs, aquifers, lakes and ponds. Both flora and fauna flourish in these unique ecological habitats, from abundant marine life to healthy populations of deer, possibly bear, wild boar and many other wildlife.
However, the phosphate industry decided to buy the land, with the intention of de-mining this region of central Florida, despite the industry’s poor environmental record over the past seven decades. Strip mining would destroy and strip these areas of central Florida for phosphates just below the surface. All the previously mentioned strips will be extinct in the excavated area. There will be no fresh water, no pastures for cattle, no agriculture, no marine life, no springs, no aquatic life, no wild animals, no flora and fauna. The only thing left from strip mining is radioactive material, caustics, acid and a destroyed landscape that resembles a lunar landscape. The aforementioned abandoned phosphate strip mine poisons will be around for decades to come, or until Florida taxpayers pay for cleanup costs. Phosphate strip mining has no environmental merits. Historically, industry executives have been environmentally unscrupulous, secretly dumping millions of tons of toxic waste and building their business models on unscrupulous business practices.
This particular area of central Florida is where Florida’s phosphate industry decided to mine the area for its valuable phosphate ore. Phosphate industry officials expressed their confidence in the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, to reclaim the land to support beneficial uses after mining ends. Interestingly, the EPA issued the permits, but Manatee County officials needed more details about the project, and strip mining was delayed at that time. Manatee County twice denied each permit requested by phosphate officials after the EPA issued permits to begin mining. Numerous small claims against Manatee and Sarasota counties and the phosphate industry are fighting for the environmental health of Central Florida from being destroyed for phosphate.
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, said the plans submitted for strip mining did not provide accurate information, did not provide evidence of financial responsibility and the rehabilitation strategy was not acceptable. (1) These particular items are of interest because the phosphate industry has historically left all environmental destruction to taxpayers to cover cleanup costs. Manatee County denied the permits, forcing phosphate industry officials to go back to court. The State of Florida will hold phosphate industry officials with Manatee County until all required reports from new strip mining in Manatee County are filed for review and approved by the county. After all, the phosphate industry has already forced Manatee County taxpayers to pay $144 million to remove an abandoned phosphate fertilizer plant near Manatee Harbor.
Manatee County is fighting a losing battle due to financial constraints (without federal dollars) with phosphate officials over new strip mining in the Micah River watershed, one of the state’s largest watersheds. The 2,500-acre catchment area adjacent to the current mining operation in the Maikka watershed is set to undergo an eight-year environmental court battle.
Florida’s phosphate industry is an economic juggernaut that will not stop strip mining in Florida unless it becomes economically unprofitable to do so. Florida citizens can help state environmentalists with their votes and funds. Central Florida Environmental Resources such as the Manatee County Commission, Peace River Initiative, Sarasota County-Shelby Botanical Gardens and Manasota-88 are local to the Central Florida region and receive donations to protect Central Florida’s unique ecosystems.
1. Altman Permit. ourphosphaterisk.com/permitting/altman-permit.
2. Michael Gallon, Manatee County Commissioner | Sarasota Bay sarasotabaytoday.com/2012/10/michael-gallen-manatee-county-commissioner/.
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