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Local Government BOCC to Vote on Manatee Phosphate Expansion Thursday


BRADENTON -- On Thursday, Mosaic Fertilizer goes before the Manatee BOCC for approval of a land use code change and a permit to mine for phosphate on 661 acres in eastern Manatee county. Opposition to the mining comes from residents and environmental groups challenging the phosphate company's claims -- that they are of little risk to water supply and air quality, and that they produce significant economic benefits. Currently, there is an Areawide Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) being prepared that will address all of those issues.

The Army Corp Of Engineers (ACOE) hired CH2M Hill to perform the AEIS. It will assess the past, current and future affects of phosphate mining throughout central Florida. A federal court agreement insists the study be completed before the ACOE permits any further mining. Mosaic chose to reopen a mine they had closed, and add on an extension to it, avoiding any oversight by ACOE and the AEIS agreement, while putting the decision on the county. Critics say Mosaic fears the AEIS findings and are trying to elude protocol to insure another permit, should the AEIS findings become a game changer.

The local community and environmental groups were alarmed on 1/12/2012, when county staff recommended Mosaic's proposal as did the Planning Commission with a 6-0 vote. Two citizens, there to express opposition to the permits, were only allotted half the time as other speakers. Phosphate mining in Manatee county is controversial to say the least. Those in opposition accuse Mosaic and CF industries (two of the three remaining phosphate companies in Florida) as being more problematic then prosperous and disingenuous in their claims of being water recyclers and job creators. They argue that tens of billions of gallons of water that is pumped from the aquifer annually to assist phosphate mining will be detrimental to the supply needed for future generations of citizens.

For their part, the companies argue that their product helps meet global food demands, while providing jobs for some citizens in those areas. Mosaic will defend their position to the Manatee BOCC Thursday and will undoubtedly be grilled on the land that lies barren in their wake, how they can prevent future catastrophes similar to the most recent one at Piney Point, and why the company can't wait until the results are in on the AEIS.

This short film done by opponents of similar projects in Hardee County explains many of the arguments against phosphate mining expansion.



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