(linked to the right)
By Craig Pittman
(Excerpt from the story);
It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Corps of Engineers, as federal judges in two high-profile Florida cases ruled that the federal agency in charge of protecting wetlands had failed to do so.
"This may be a prime case of the Corps shooting itself in the foot. Environmental groups and local officials in Charlotte County (downriver from the mining) have long called for a cumulative impact study of the effects of mining on the Peace River, but the Corps has always said no. At last, however, the Corps agreed to such a study but only AFTER issuing the permit to Mosaic for expanding its Fort Meade Mine. That makes it easier for the plaintiffs to argue that the Corps' permitting decision was arbitrary and capricious.
A company spokesman contended that this showed the environmental groups were more concerned about saving wetlands than saving jobs: "The unfortunate fact here is the Sierra Club places a higher value on their national anti-mining agenda than on the economic well-being of Hardee County and its citizens, and the livelihoods of the hundreds of families that rely on our South Fort Meade mine.”
Then Mosaic, not averse to playing hardball, informed 221 employees that they might be laid off if the suit continues. But the news shocked the stock market, and shares of Mosaic dropped 8 percent in value.
Don't cry for Mosaic, though -- the company does have a few dollars to spend on acquiring its phosphate rock from other sources. But the big question is whether the Corps will change its permitting procedures. After all this is not even the first time this year the Corps has been told it's doing this wetlands protection thing wrong. So far, though, as we wrote in "Paving Paradise", what the Corps does offers the illusion of wetlands protection without actually saving anything."
# # #"Paving Paradise" is an exceptional book documenting what has been happening in Florida for decades and penned as a hard-hitting factual account of the wetlands and Everglades destruction the USACE has been overly complicit in. It is a history primer, of sorts, detailing the events and players that have sought, and still do, to literally "pave paradise" in pursuit of profits over people and the environment.
The book was meticulously researched and written by two investigative journalists from the St. Petersburg Times, who skillfully chronicled the ongoing failure of federal regulations; which they say are merely "an illusion of the law."
Their assessment is compelling and the undercurrent of Florida's story could apply to many different areas of the country-- the complicity between the federal government, big business and land speculators remains the most destructive force to the continuous degradation of our nation's wetlands and waterways.