Here is a story with links from Joy from the "Hope for clean water organization". (email@example.com)
Mon Mar 24, 2008
10:29 am ((PDT))
Their mine must have our input
A battle is brewing in neighboring Levy County. Some Inglis residents are gearing up to fight a proposal by Tarmac America, a leading concrete maker, to operate a limerock mine spanning some 4,000 acres, a quarter of which are wetlands.
The company, the Gainesville Sun reports, argues the mine would bring jobs, enhance the tax base and would not harm the water supply. Many in the community dispute that, saying the environmental risk from pumping 22 million gallons of water a day - almost all of which, the company maintains, would be pumped back into the ground - is too great and that the invasion of truck traffic, an estimated 1,000 dump trucks per work day, would ruin their town.
Beyond the pending joust between a small town and a giant company, the critical action regarding this project is happening far from Inglis. In Tallahassee state Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton Republican, has introduced a measure to strangle opposition like that building in Inglis in the cradle.
Bennett's bill (SB 2406) would block local governments from adopting or enforcing regulations to prohibit or prevent the construction or operation of limerock mines on property approved for mining. The bill, citing "the state's critical infrastructure needs and the potential shortfall" in construction materials, would allow mining companies to seek fast-track approval from state environmental regulators.
In other words, Bennett thinks the cost of road projects is too high and wants to bulldoze over those pesky local government officials so the roadbuilders can access this material more quickly, and theoretically more cheaply.
The reason for Bennett's bill was undermined by Cragin Mosteller, spokeswoman for the Florida Association of Counties, who told the Sun the demand for mining materials has dropped 40 percent over the past year. Yet that's not what is most important.
Here in Marion County, we have watched residents fight, largely unsuccessfully, similar mining operations. Along the way, though, the operators of such mines had to appear before the County Commission and the public to explain the need for their mine, the details of its operation and its impact on the environment. That local input was vital, even if it was not always heeded.
But look at this through another lens. Suppose for limerock we substituted the word "water." The County Commission has asserted its right to approve with a special-use permit water mining projects that draw more than 100,000 gallons a day, a power the state Supreme Court has agreed they can exercise. Were it not for such local oversight, our community's landscape would likely be littered with water bottling outfits, given the water management districts' proclivity for green-lighting such plans.
Mining is not inherently bad. But it requires public oversight. Thus, we call on lawmakers to see Bennett's bill for what it is - an attempt to cater to big business by stripping local communities of their voice and the power to contest plans with potentially adverse effects - and reject it accordingly.
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