Clean water rollbacks enable destruction of 400 acres of wetlands near Okefenokee

The Okefenokee Swamp is at risk from a massive mine that plans to destroy nearly 400 acres of wetlands after the Trump administration slashed protections under the Clean Water Act. (© Chris DeScherer)

One impact of the Trump administration’s cutting of protections under the Clean Water Act is a massive mine’s plans to destroy nearly 400 acres of wetlands at the doorstep of the Okefenokee Swamp without a federal permit.

“[Similar] decisions are being made across the country, and we’re only starting to see the consequences,” said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler, leader of SELC’s Clean Water Program, in an October 21 Associated Press article. “I think what we’ll see over the next several months, until this rule is thrown out or changes, is that we’re going to lose the streams and wetlands that we depend on.”

At the request of a mining company following the Trump administration's removal of protections for many waterways and wetlands, the Army Corps of Engineers revised a jurisdictional determination related to the massive proposed heavy mineral sand mine. The new jurisdictional determination made under the new “definition of waters of United States” concluded that the mine tract would impact no jurisdictional wetlands. Under the prior definition of “waters of the United States,” the mine’s first phase included about 400 acres of protected, jurisdictional wetlands. 

The mine is referenced in SELC’s ongoing challenge in federal court as an example of the damage resulting from the administration gutting clean water protections for wetlands, streams, river and lakes.

Similar decisions are being made across the country, and we’re only starting to see the consequences. I think what we’ll see over the next several months, until this rule is thrown out or changes, is that we’re going to lose the streams and wetlands that we depend on.”

—Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler

SELC represents Defenders of Wildlife, as well as 13 other organizations, in that litigation and both groups are monitoring this proposed mining operation that would encroach on the pristine wetland in Southern Georgia that’s home to the state’s treasured Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. For a laundry list of reasons why mining next to the Okefenokee Swamp is a bad idea, click here.

As Senior Attorney Kelly Moser told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution: “The big question will be whether the federal government and the state government will step in and help our efforts.”

Want more SELC Stories? Get our monthly enewsletter featuring highlights from across the South.

More News

Appeals court affirms Smithfield’s liability for noxious odors, noise, and pests

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found Murphy-Brown/Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producers, liable for noxious odors, noise...

8 ways we’re thwarting Trump’s anti-environmental agenda

SELC has emerged as an effective and trusted national leader in fighting against the Trump administration’s long list of anti-environmental assau...

South DeKalb residents challenge Metro Green Recycling facility

Residents of the City of Stonecrest and DeKalb County have moved to intervene in an ongoing suit against Metro Green Recycling’s construction and...

U.S. Forest Service finalizes rule to cut science and public input; increase logging on national forests

The U.S. Forest Service announced today that it is set to finalize a rule that will cut science-based analysis, transparency, and public input fr...

Conservation groups sue USFWS to save wild red wolves

Updated 11/23 at 9am: SELC filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in the new red wolf case, asking for more specific emergency relief to save...

N.C. adds methyl bromide to list of toxic air pollutants as result of public pressure

After years of public pressure, stakeholder engagement, and an exhaustive rulemaking process, North Carolina has joined approximately 20 other st...

More Stories