Last week it was reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends denying nine mining applications affecting 6,800 additional acres of wetlands in Miami’s Lake Belt region. In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in early July, EPA expresses concerns about the environmental impacts associated with the proposed limestone mining. This includes the potential to “significantly degrade aquatic resources,” EPA said in the letter. The region forms the buffer between the Everglades Ecosystem and the urban development of Miami. According to the EPA letter, the nine applications would expand mining activities of APAC-Southeast Inc., Florida Rock Industries Inc., Kendall Properties and Investments, Rinker Materials of Florida Inc., Sawgrass Rock Quarry Inc., Tarmac America LLC, White Rock Quarries and Opa-Locka West Airport. The latest decision in the ongoing legal battle came in January, when a judge ruled against the Corps of Engineers and the mining companies, setting aside 10 of the existing mining permits covering hundreds of acres. The industry appealed the judge’s partial mining ban, with oral arguments scheduled in October. Lake Belt mining permits were originally issued for 5,400 acres in 2002.
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