Wave Maker’s News: Fight Against Mine in FL’s Nature Coast Heats Up

This article is excerpted from Wave Maker’s News, our quarterly update on all things water in the Gulf of Mexico, check out the full newsletter here. Photo courtesy of Eric ZamoraThe Nature Coast of Florida is one of the last frontiers of the beautiful, untamed Florida that previous generations once knew and loved. Its legacy lies in its forests, wetlands, beautiful streams, and springs. Its geography is similar to that of the Everglades – an incredible slow moving sheet of water that gently flows over layers of limestone rock, sinkholes and caves, and supports productive wetlands and streams that feed into three state preserves and sea grass estuaries.This treasure is threatened by plans by Tarmac, LLC to construct a mine. Tarmac, LLC, owned by a Greek multi-national corporation, is asking Levy County Commission for a special permit to blast and dig limestone rock in the heart of the Nature Coast for 100 years. This company has a long record of wetlands destruction in south Florida, and this project would continue and expand that track record into the Nature Coast. The current proposal seeks state approval of a 4800 acre limestone mining project in Levy County that would pump 22 million gallons of water a day. If allowed to move forward, this project will eliminate drinking water well fields and destroy 2300 acres of wetlands. The potentially catastrophic water quality impacts would affect Cedar Key, Scrub, and Waccasassa Bay State Preserve.GRN, along with the Nature Coast Coalition, wants to protect our natural resources and embrace the sustainable economies of the future. Destructive limestone mining is part of Florida’s past, and does not belong as a part of our future. Economic studies show that destructive limestone mining will hurt the Nature Coast’s long term economy – including Cedar Key’s $45 million clam industry – and the sustainable economy linked to the Nature Coast’s natural legacy of forests and wetlands. This same area is under simultaneous threat by the proposed Levy Nuclear Plant, which would require an additional 122 million gallons per day. The current Withlacoochee River Water Supply Authority withdrawals, plus the nuclear plant demands, and the additional water use of the Tarmac limestone mining operation could draw down one-third of the water system that flows into the Withlacoochee estuaries. Currently, no state agency is taking the cumulative impacts of these water withdrawals into consideration.Florida’s Nature Coast is too important to Florida – and to the entire Gulf of Mexico – to let the threat that the Tarmac mine poses go unanswered. GRN is working with members of the Nature Coast Coalition to stop the permitting of this mine.As we enter the public hearing stages of the county decision making process, we will continue our efforts to keep the public informed, get citizens involved and engaged, and work on all possible levels to stop this monstrosity of a project. For more info or to get involved, contact GRN’s Florida Program Director Darden Rice at darden@healthygulf.org.

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