Dear Editor, 

I read with curiosity the Letter to the Editor from the City Council of Folkston and the Charlton County Development Commission giving their endorsement and support of the Twin Pines mining proposal. That letter raises so many questions. Where did these two boards obtain their scientific data that the mining would not affect the swamp and the environment? Much of the information offered in their letter appears to have been spoon fed to them directly from Twin Pines. There was no mention of where they obtained the scientific data that rendered such a strong endorsement that the mining will not harm the swamp or the environment. The letter did not mention any consultants or scientist who were hired by either of these two entities to inform them there wouldn’t be any environmental damage from the mining. How many scientist sit on the city board or the development council? Did the boards hire or consult any scientist at all? What was the name of the consulting firm either the city or the development board hired to supply them the scientific data that the mining would not harm the swamp and environment? Where did the boards get their scientific data that gave them proof the mining would not harm the swamp and environment? Please, I would ask you to share such valuable data with the public. 

How can anyone determine and say the mining will not affect the environment when Twin Pines itself has not submitted their hydrology studies/reports to anyone? Does the city or development board have copies of any hydrology studies/reports from Twin Pines? Because if they do, I will expediently be public record requesting copies of those. I have been requesting copies of hydrology studies and reports for months now to no avail. Hydrology is a big part of the environment and it’s a big part of this mining and it’s impossible to know if the Twin Pines mining will harm the environment or not because they have furnished no hydrology studies/reports. Let’s also not forget that Twin Pines is named in a Consent Order here in North Florida for destroying wetlands without permits. That’s environmental damage and law breaking to boot. I wonder if they told Bradford County Fl officials they wouldn’t harm the environment there? 

In the letter it stated “We trust the experts at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the mining project is safe and protective of the Okefenokee.” My goodness, where do I start. The US Army Corps issues permits. The 2 permits the Army Corps will issue for this project protect nothing. The two permits 401 & 404 (if issued) will be to DESTROY WETLANDS on the mining site with the ‘promise’ to reconstruct them during reclamation years down the road and the other permit will be to DISCHARGE WASTEWATER from the mine that will flow to the St. Mary’s River. These two permits protect very little of the environment. Turning a wetland that took millions of years to form upside down to mine and then trying to put it back to function like it did before it was mined is like de-boning a live chicken and then telling it to get up and walk around. If the city & development boards want to put their trust and confidence in an agency that actually protects the environment they should seriously consider listening to what the US EPA has already said about this project. The agency that is responsible for laws like the Clean Water & Clean Air Acts and responsible for environmental protection. The agency that just recently released another statement concerning Twin Pines mining proposal that said- “U.S. EPA still finds that “the proposed project will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance.” (The Okefenokee Swamp)

Mark Lyons

Baker County, FL