A recent ruling to allow a new phosphate mine at the headwaters of the Peace River is getting mixed reviews from Charlotte County officials. The ruling comes after a 2-month trial during which the county challenged the proposed Horse Creek Mine. That creek – located in Hardee & Manatee counties - supplies 15-percent of flow to the Peace River – which, in turn, feeds Charlotte Harbor. The ruling by Administrative Law Judge – Robert Meale – advises the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to grant a permit for the Mosaic Company’s proposed 42-hundred-acre strip mine. It’s the first phase in a more than 20-thousand-acre proposal.
Although initial reaction among local government officials & environmentalists was negative, further review of Judge Meale’s 450-page ruling revealed 24 new stipulations, says Charlotte County Commissioner, Adam Cummings…
“My initial reaction was dismay that the permit was granted. As we got further into evaluating the recommended order, we got to thinking that this isn’t so bad after all. Some of the conditions that the judge has built into it may help move us incrementally along toward improved regulation of the industry.”
Those conditions include blocking mines in some pristine areas - and requiring Mosaic to guarantee cleanup, even if the company goes under. Judge Meale’s findings can be accepted, rejected or modified by Florida D.E.P Secretary - Colleen Castille. Once she issues her final order, it will either be challenged or accepted by the county.
Thursday, 19 May 2005 01:00