Fate of planned mine near Okefenokee left to Georgia agency

Georgia News

Jane Winkler stands with a sign that says “Protect The Okefenokee” outside a church where Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp met with local Chamber of Commerce members in Folkston, Ga., on April 22, 2021. Winkler and others are fighting a mining company’s plan to dig for minerals about 3 miles from the edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The company Twin Pines Minerals says it can mine the area without harming the swamp. But federal government scientists have said the project could damage the swamp’s ability to hold water. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

FOLKSTON, Ga. (AP) — A battle over whether to allow mining near the vast wildlife refuge in the Okefenokee Swamp rests with Georgia state regulators after federal agencies declared they no longer have oversight.

Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Bill Sapp says it’s “uncharted waters” to have a state agency in charge of a decision that could have major impacts on the federally protected Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The company Twin Pines Minerals has been seeking permits to mine about 3 miles from the refuge’s edge. Federal scientists say that could damage the swamp.

But President Donald Trump’s administration stripped the project of federal oversight last year in a rollback of environmental rules.

Twin Pines insists the project won’t harm the swamp.

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