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Legal Gains and Losses

Final orders from the courtroom don't tell the entire story of how much was done to strengthen the rules governing strip mining and protect the Peace River Basin. Progress is better measured by looking at the gains from each challenge. Though some challenged permits have been issued, they are changed for the better along the way.

For example, the original application for the Ona mine proposed a 20,000-acre (32 square mile) operation. After eight weeks of hearings, the judge recommended the approval of a less than 4,000 acres—an 80 percent reduction in mining, with significant conditions attached to the approval.

What We've Accomplished So Far…

  • New mining reclamation rules are now in place, with stronger stream and wetland restoration requirements
  • New Uniform Wetland Assessment Method ("UMAM") rules are now in effect. These new rules provide–no exception for phosphate industry. They must follow same process as everyone else
  • The Legislature required DEP and SWFWMD to do a cumulative impact study of the entire Peace River Basin and develop a management plan to address existing and future cumulative impacts.
  • Phosphogypsum stacks are now explicitly required to withstand hurricanes.
  • Minimum Flows & Levels rulemaking is ongoing for Peace River; Charlotte County is an active participant in the development of those rules.
  • State law now requires phosphate companies to meet EPA standards when seeking to provide financial assurance for mine reclamation.
  • Improved rules make it harder for phosphate companies to leave taxpayers with clean-ups costs for abandoned phosphogypsum stacks.

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