Save the Okefenokee Swamp

SAVE THE SWAMP – GWC works to protect the Okefenokee Swamp from mining.

In recent months, concerned citizens have given the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers close to 60,000 reasons to deny Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (Twin Pines) rights to dig for titanium on portions of a 12,000-acre site near the Okefenokee Swamp and adjacent to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. That’s the number of letters that the Corps has received during two public comment periods, and many of these were marshalled by GWC members.

This is not the first time citizens have fought proposals to mine near the Swamp. In the 1990s, DuPont moved to mine for titanium in the area, but public outcry forced the company to abandon its plans.

GWC members are asking the Corps to deny the permit or at the very least require additional studies to determine the true cost of the mine on the swamp and the economy of the region, a process that results in a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.  

Twin Pines has scaled back its original application for a wetlands permit and is now seeking permission to conduct a “demonstration project” phase of mining that would initially impact 898 acres.  The size still matters, because of its location on Trail Ridge which serves as a geological dam impounding the swamp.

If mining takes place on the full 12,000-acre site, we could see activity within 400 feet of the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge. And the swamp wetlands extend beyond the Refuge onto the ridge itself. With the average depth of the water in the swamp being only two feet, there’s not  much room for error.

Drawing down water levels could impact the 120 miles of canoe trails in the swamp and the more than 600,000 visitors that visit the swamp annually.

In addition to local advocates speaking out against the proposed mine, the Corps must also consider input from federal agencies. Those agencies have thus far not viewed the proposal favorably. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told the Corps that  mining could “have a substantial and unacceptable impact” on the Okefenokee Swamp; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service warned that damage to the Swamp “may be permanent.”

Georgia Water Coalition Anti-Racism Statement

“The Georgia Water Coalition is a group of over 250 organizations, businesses, and community groups who have come together around the mission to protect and care for Georgia’s surface water and groundwater resources. Our coalition strives to be inclusive and diverse, and our members believe that all Georgians have a right to safe recreation and use of Georgia’s waters. 

We will only support measures that make Georgia a more just and equitable state. We understand that racism is a complex issue that is deeply embedded in our society’s institutions. This bias influences public resources, such as community processes, priority setting, and resource allocation. We are committed to working long term to ensure that every Georgian has access to clean water and a seat at the decision making table.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are only the latest examples of the persistent injustices that Black Americans face. We firmly condemn racism and hate. We, as a coalition and as a society, must do better. We cannot successfully protect our water resources for all Georgians without also addressing systemic racism.”

GWC member SELC introduces new podcast sharing environmental stories in the South

Georgia Water Coalition member the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has launched Broken Ground, a new podcast that amplifies the voices of communities, accidental environmentalists, and conservationists by sharing their stories, unearthing important – yet often overlooked – environmental issues throughout the South.

Through compelling stories from Southerners of all walks of life, Broken Ground shows the real-life impacts of environmental policies for individuals and communities who, when forced to bear the brunt of bad decisions, often become unlikely heroes as a result.

“When you start to chip away and get at what’s behind bad environmental policies, that’s where you often find the real story,” said Claudine Ebeid McElwain, host of Broken Ground. “Understanding why we are making bad environmental choices locally, regionally, and nationally is how we figure out what needs fixing.”

Over the course of four episodes, the first season explores the past, present, and future of energy decisions across the South. From the environmental and personal costs, to the ongoing threat of bad decisions, to our future possibilities, Broken Ground shines a light on the people and stories at the heart of the matter.

The first episode of Broken Ground revisits one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, when a man-made, earthen dike holding back millions of gallons of coal ash sludge broke at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal plant in 2008. The horrific event inundated a small community with coal ash that devastated residents’ properties and nearby waterways. However, it took nearly a decade to uncover the full damage of this spill when it became apparent that workers tasked with cleaning up the coal ash were becoming sick and dying.

“Storytelling is one of the most important tools we can use to shed light on how environmental issues affect all of us,” said April Lipscomb, Staff Attorney in SELC’s Atlanta office. “Our hope is that through this podcast, we can elevate Southern voices and inspire others across the South to share their personal experiences with decision-makers to influence change.”

Broken Ground can be found on iTunesSpotify, or wherever listeners consume their podcasts.

2018 Dirty Dozen Report Telepress

Press Release – Dirty Dozen 2018: Dirty Politics Lead to Dirty Water

Click here for the pdf of the slide deck.

2018 Dirty Dozen Report Release Slide Deck

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Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment – Vote Yes on Amendment 1

Vote YES on Amendment One!!!

The Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Amendment is on the ballot on November 6 as Amendment One. Georgians now have a chance to dedicate funding for conservation and it can be done without a tax increase!

The amendment will allow a portion of the existing sales tax we are already paying on outdoor sporting goods to the protection of the state’s land, water, and wildlife.

Over $20 million would be dedicated every year for the next ten years. This funding could not be used for any other purpose and would be subject to strict accountability provisions and public disclosure. Only projects consistent with the state’s established goals for conservation would be approved.

If passed, this funding would be used to:

• Protect lands critical to clean drinking water and the quality of Georgia’s lakes, rivers and streams
• Acquire and improve parks and trails
• Maintain and improve access to wildlife management areas and create new opportunities for hunting and fishing
• Support Georgia’s $27 billion outdoor recreation industry
We need your help to get the word out so that we can pass this historic Amendment. Please forward this email to everyone you can and let people know this is a chance we will have only once in a generation. Learn more at https://www.georgiaoutdoorstewardship.org/