JACKSONVILLE, Fla.(March 22, 2011) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District will host two scoping meetings this week, to obtain public input to an Areawide Environmental Impact Statement (AEIS) for Continued Phosphate Mining in the Central Florida Phosphate District. The meetings will take place Wed., March 23 at The Lakeland Center, 701 West Lime Street in Lakeland and Fri., March 25 at the Charlotte Harbor Events Center, 75 Taylor Street, Punta Gorda. Each of the identical meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a brief presentation, followed by an open house format during which attendees may visit a number of exhibits, talk with representatives of the AEIS team and submit comments for consideration during the AEIS development.
Mining of phosphate has occurred in the central Florida region for more than 100 years. Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps reviews dredging and filling activities in waters of the United States, including wetlands. The Corps has issued Department of the Army permits for phosphate mining activities since 1977. With additional permit actions pending, the Corps determined that an AEIS would more accurately address past, present and reasonably forseeable cumulative impacts than reviewing each permit application individually and separately.
The AEIS will provide a comprehensive, consistent framework on which to base future decisions concerning continued phosphate mining in the Central Florida Phosphate District. Among the topics to be addressed in the AEIS are public health and safety, water supply and conservation, fish and wildlife habitats, wetlands, historic and cultural resources and socioeconomics.
The scoping process will identify concerns of agencies and the public and define the environmental issues and alternatives to be examined in the AEIS. The purpose of the scoping meetings is to collect information about environmental and social concerns as well as concepts for minimizing the potential environmental impacts of mining to the area’s aquatic resources. This input contributes to the AEIS being structured to better address public and agency concerns and helps lead to better decisions.
For more information, or to submit comments online, please visit the project website: www.phosphateaeis.org. Public comments will be accepted through April 25 and it is expected that a draft AEIS will be released for public review and comment in October.
Release no. 11-22