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Study of phosphate mining's impact stirs industry's critics

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UPDATE:The USACE has increased the comment period from 45 days until 60 days, so the new deadline to provide comment is now July 30th.

By Kate Spinner

As huge shovels seeking phosphate ore ripped up thousands of acres of wetlands and miles of streams in Central Florida, the nagging question of whether such intensive strip mining does more harm than good lingered.

Over the last decade, mining critics repeatedly demanded an answer from the federal government. What they finally received — after 15 months of work — only raises more questions.

The study managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concludes that the environmental damage from strip mining more than 55,000 additional acres, including 12,000 acres of wetlands and 86 miles of streams, will be insignificant.

Phosphate industry critics, who had hoped for an independent, unbiased analysis of mining's environmental costs and economic benefits, consider the results a stunning disappointment.

Continued on

Meetings on the 1,200-page mining report, titled "Areawide Environmental Impact Statement for Phosphate Mining in the Central Florida Phosphate District" begin at 6:30 p.m. and could conclude as late as 10 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
• Lakeland: June 19: Lakeland Center, 701 West Lime St.
• Punta Gorda: June 21: Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center, 75 Taylor St.

On June 22, 2012, the Corps will speak about the Draft AEIS at a meeting of the Myakka River Management Coordinating Council.
Meeting information: Location: Lemon Bay Park, 570 Bay Park Blvd., Englewood, FL 34223
Time: 8:45 am – 1:00 pm

The public has until July 15 to comment on the draft report.
Lee and Sarasota counties, the Sierra Club and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program are seeking a 90-day extension for comments.

Comments may be provided using the form on the AEIS website, by e-mail to, or via other standard mail or commercial delivery services to the following address:

Draft AEIS Comments
USACE – Tampa Regulatory Office
10117 Princess Palm Drive, Suite 120
Tampa, Florida 33610

Click here to review the draft report (may be downloaded in sections)

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