Litigation is an unfortunate necessity. More than 13,397 acres of wetlands and 105 miles of streams have disappeared because of phosphate strip mining. The salinity levels in the lower Peace River are higher, while fish species are missing in areas where they were formerly abundant.
We can no longer afford to grant a blank check for Mosaic to strip mine.
Charlotte County first began its legal battle with phosphate in 2001 with the Manson Jenkins Tract, a 3000-acre tract in northeast Manatee County. This challenge of an IMC Phosphates plan to mine drew a line in the sand against under-monitored strip-mining in the Peace River.
Since then, Lee County has been joined by Charlotte and Sarasota Counties, the Peace River/Manasota Water Supply Authority, the Sierra Club and thousands of citizens.
Two other proposed sites have been challenged. More than 25,000 acres (39 square miles) of combined strip-mining have been opposed. There have been some gains in strengthening the rules governing strip mining, including financial protections for the public and environmental monitoring of our resources.
Most recently, the fight to curtail strip mining near the tiny town of Ona in Hardee County has reduced the proposed site from 20,000 acres to 4000 acres.