Credit: Office of Sen. Jon Ossoff
Ossoff urges state to block mine near Okefenokee Swamp, warning of dire environmental consequences
LISTEN: In a letter to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Sen. Jon Ossoff called for regulators to deny a proposed titanium dioxide mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.
Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff submitted public comment Wednesday to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, requesting that the agency reject an application for a proposed mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Georgia.
In a letter addressed to EPD director Richard Dunn, Ossoff cited scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a University of Georgia hydrologist in arguing that a titanium dioxide mine operated by Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals would “irrevocably harm” the federally protected wetland as well as Georgia's tourism economy.
“All wetlands are precious, but this is not just any wetland,” Ossoff told reporters. “This is the only blackwater wetland ecosystem of its kind on the entire continent. The wildlife and vegetation native to the swamp are extraordinary in their biodiversity, and this is a fragile ecosystem.”
According to the cited scientists, mining activities would result in lower water table levels and drought conditions, increasing the risk of fire. Their assessments run contrary to Twin Pines' claim that the proposed 582-acre mine would not dry out the swamp.
Ossoff urged Georgians to share their own opinions with the EPD on Twin Pines' land use plan, as part of the agency's 60-day public comment period, which ends March 20.
The Democrat called Okefenokee “a place beloved by and precious to Georgians of all backgrounds and views, from every region of our state” and “a place that has inspired young people in Georgia to love and cherish the great outdoors for generations.”
Public comment can be submitted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by mailing the EPD's Land Protection Branch at 4244 International Parkway, Atlanta Tradeport, Suite 104, Atlanta, GA 30354.
The agency will also hold two virtual public meetings on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23, where participants can share verbal comment.