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Corps Suspends Phosphate Mine Permit

We won a significant victory in our phosphate case on Oct. 6. 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 Southwest Florida's Peace River watershed.

Our court case is ongoing, but the Corps decision to suspend the permit shows that the permit didn't comply with the law and should never have been granted.

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 decision."

As I wrote on Sept. 29, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of the Sierra Club, ManaSota-88, People for Protecting Peace River (3PR), the Gulf Restoration Network, and Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida.

We contend 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. Our lawsuit also points out that the Corps violated the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to hold the public hearing on—or critically reviewing—Mosaic Phosphate's revised permit application.

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.

We 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 future.

Apparently, the Corps agrees with us.

Tags:  Water