Sunday, May 25, 2008

Environmentalists decry S. Carolina law change on permits

There will be more of this in economically depressed areas which I'm assuming the Carolinas are.
Businesses have scored a legislative victory in South Carolina that could make it easier to develop construction projects without waiting for a final decision on state environmental permits.

The House approved a measure Thursday giving environmentalists, citizens groups and developers only three days to prepare for hearings on whether projects can be built before administrative courts resolve permit disputes. That's down from 10 days.

In addition to the time limit for a hearing, environmental groups say the bill also prevents what is known as an automatic stay on some projects if a developer has obtained many of the permits.

Environmentalists believe the changes make it more difficult to ensure that projects aren't built before permit disputes are resolved. If a project is built and the developer later loses his permit case in court, it will be difficult to force a construction project to be torn down or scaled back, they say.

In a related story with the headline: N. Carolina mining plan would destroy vast wetlands area
A proposal to strip-mine for phosphate in more than 4,000 acres of wetlands near the Pamlico River in North Carolina was outlined Friday by the Army Corps of Engineers in an environmental impact statement.

If the plan is approved after a public comment period, it would result in the largest permitted wetlands destruction in the state's history.

PCS Ohosphate, the company seeking approval, wants to extract phosphate for the next 37 years from three separate tracts of land near its existing mine in Aurora. The mining operations would span more than 15,100 acres, including 4,135 acres of water and wetlands. The company expects to spend $4.76 billion over the decades-long expansion plan.

The last time the corps allowed a company to venture into such a large amount of wetlands was in 1997 when PCS Phosphate received certification to begin mining 1,263 acres of wetland on its current operations.

And just why isn't the EPA getting involved? Wasn't that agency given a mandate to protect wetlands? And where are the alligators, egrets, herons, ducks, geese, turtles gonna live? Just asking.

Note: Headline links to source.

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