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Comments Regarding the Proposed Surface Mining in Glynn County

Presented by David Kyler to the Glynn County Board of Commissioners on May 2, 2002
[NOTE: The Board voted 6-1 against providing the rezoning request needed by the mining company.]


We are deeply concerned about fundamental issues raised by the surface mining operation proposed in Glynn County. These issues must be resolved before the proposal can be given further consideration. Due to the great importance of natural resources to the economy and health of this region, we have serious reservations about proposed surface mining. This proposal could threaten environmental quality that is essential to many existing jobs and economic interests, as well as the quality of life for local residents.

As others have pointed out, an operation of the kind proposed will draw water from the water table and underground aquifers, and such effects could disrupt the function of surrounding wetlands by draining water away from these areas. The extent and significance of the damage to local wetlands likely to be caused by surface mining needs to be thoroughly examined and evaluated by objective, third-party hydrologists.

Expert ecologists estimate that fully functioning wetlands are among the world's most productive lands, producing more food and wildlife than nearly all other land uses and without the need for artificial fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Tidal marshes could also be damaged by the proposed operation, because they are crucially dependent availability of fresh water, which could be disrupted by mining.

We do know that historic activities have already compromised the ability of our wetlands to retain and filter water. During periods of drought, properly functioning wetlands provide vitally needed water for fish and wildlife including both freshwater and marine species. It is therefore very likely that the problems caused by the extended drought we are experiencing have been amplified by ditching, filling, and other past activities that have degraded or destroyed wetlands. The proposed mining operation could further aggravate these problems by depriving water from wetland areas and coastal estuaries.

If this results, we can expect even greater decline in the health, numbers, and diversity of fish and shellfish, as well as birds and other wildlife all of which contribute substantially to our nature-based economy. Harm to these resources could more than offset any anticipated benefits from the proposal. Thus, while gaining temporary employment created by surface mining, as a result of it we may be permanently losing jobs in fishing, seafood processing, tourism, and recreation.

Our quality of life will also critically suffer if fresh water available to wetlands is further reduced. Those who depend on the natural bounty of local waters for their sustenance may be especially hard hit. Furthermore, heavy trucking traffic generated by the proposal has consequences of its own. Reduction of air quality, increased noise, and over-use of local roads are definite possibilities that must be avoided.

In the interest of local residents who care about the long-term prosperity of our community, surface mining must be very carefully evaluated and controlled. Even though some economic benefits may result, they may be gained at the expense of our coastal resources and the many people who value them. Clearly, nothing should be permitted to support this operation prior to completion of impact evaluation, recognizing that impact assessment alone may not fully account for all possible consequences. We strongly recommend that Glynn County take no action to support this project until sufficient analysis has been conducted through reliable, independent assessment. We are also concerned about the possibility of multiple similar projects being approved, which could compound the adverse outcomes.

Our community's well being depends on various choices, each of which, if not made very carefully, could harm the interests of existing residents or hinder other, more promising opportunities for our future. Surface mining introduces both real and perceived threats to local land and other resources, which could cost the county, its residents and property owners dearly. To succeed in our ventures as a thriving community, we must look beyond quick and easy solutions, which often cause more problems than they solve. Until and unless impacts are reliably assessed to objective standards of independent review, we oppose any action in support of this proposal.

Summary of Our Analysis and Recommendations
  • While gaining temporary employment created by surface mining, as a result of it we may permanently lose jobs in fishing, seafood processing, tourism, and recreation.
  • Water drawn from the water table (or surficial aquifer) in mining operations could disrupt the function of surrounding wetlands by draining water away from these areas. Harm to these resources could be greater than anticipated benefits from the proposal.
  • If loss of fresh water available to wetlands is caused by surface mining, our quality of life could critically suffer.
  • This proposal could threaten environmental quality that is essential to many existing jobs and economic interests, as well as the availability of fish and shellfish.
  • The proposed mining operation could further aggravate problems of drought and pollution by depriving water from wetland areas and coastal estuaries.
  • Surface mining introduces both real and perceived threats to local land and other resources, which could cost the county, its residents and property owners dearly.
  • Any action that supports implementation of this proposal must be deferred until all related impacts are reliably assessed to objective standards of independent review.
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