West Central Florida is home to the mega-mining phosphate industry. This area is also rich with the only ecosystem of its kind worldwide. This unique ecosystem is one reason Florida has so many visitors yearly. Billions of dollars are brought into the state through tourism because Florida is the only state with a tropical climate other than Hawaii (3). However, phosphate industry officials are intent on completely eradicating west central Florida’s unique ecosystems for the phosphate ore just beneath the surface.
In the recent past, news about the environmental devastation being caused by Florida’s phosphate industry is spreading to communities all around central Florida. The news is on a local level, but does not seem to find national coverage. Interestingly, when (culpable) lawsuits are brought against the strip mining juggernaut, strong arm tactics are displayed by industry officials.
Manatee County, Florida is facing phosphate industry financial strong arm tactics and various other political strategies which are very effective deterrents and can be observed every day by all who seek. Manatee County Commissioners now know the (financial) pressure that phosphate industry officials can apply by threats of lawsuits totaling over 600 million dollars (2). The industry is taking Manatee County to court for denying badly needed permits because Florida Department of Environmental Protection stated that industry planning reports failed to provide accurate information, a clear reclamation plan, and necessary financial assurance that the site would be properly reclaimed after mining.
Phosphate industry officials are used to getting their way even when it is environmentally unsound to do so for Florida’s citizens as a whole. Meaning industry uses its financial muscle to destroy as they please, where anyone else would be denied permits. Historically, phosphate industry officials may financially bully anyone opposing their point of view on the “status-quo”.
Phosphate industry officials insist on strip mining another 2048 acre tract in Manatee County called the Altman Tract (1). This tract is adjacent to recently strip-mined landscape located near the unspoiled headwaters of Horse Creek, in the Peace River basin, which delivers around fifteen percent of normal flow into the lower Peace River. All of which threaten Charlotte Harbor, Florida, risking local venues bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars yearly.
Simultaneously, Charlotte County officials are negotiating with the phosphate industry. This is significant because Hardee County is adjacent to Manatee County in Florida. Unfortunately, Charlotte officials submitted to the phosphate juggernaut and are now on board with industry officials and will reluctantly issue permits to strip mine the areas adjacent to previously enormous stripped tracts. The agreement called for changes requested to provide stronger restrictions in the area mentioned above by Charlotte County officials. The changes required by Charlotte County does not follow the phosphate industry “status-quo”; so one will see if Mosaic Co. officials will entertain the requests. Historically, Florida’s phosphate industry officials do not like changing the status-quo, presently it is in the industries favor.
However, litigation is significantly increasing over phosphate strip mining in central Florida. Mosaic Company is the defendant, in this case, simultaneously fighting multiple legal battles in four central Florida counties, hiring three different law firms, based in Tampa, Orlando, and, of course, Tallahassee (capital). Phosphate mining giant Mosaic Company is contesting Manatee County for 617 million dollars just two weeks after Mosaic was denied permits to strip mine the environmentally protected Altman tract (over 2000 acres).
Manatee County cannot compete financially with Florida’s phosphate industry officials. County officials also submit to financial pressure by the threat of legal battles and will “permit” Mosaic Co. in this case, to strip mine over 2000 acres of pristine environmentally challenged wetlands, springs, rivers, aquifers, marine life, and habitats for thousands of species of life including both floras and fauna.
1. Altman Permit; ourphosphaterisk.com/permitting/altman-permit.
2. Mosaic Fertilizer threatens to sue FL county for $618 million to get to… democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×4148828.
3. Sierra Club Florida News: sierraclubfloridanews.org/2015_11_01_archive.HTML.
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