South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Groups file intent to sue over proposed quarry
September 26th, 2018

By Michaele Duke

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and others has filed a notice of intent to sue to the Corps of Engineers, among other agencies. The notice claims Federal agencies “are committing ongoing violations of endangered species act in relation to a proposed limestone mine.”

In 2017, RDA, LLC applied for state and federal permits in order to construct and operate a limestone mining and process facility on a 968.4-acre tract located approximately five miles northwest of the Town of Andrews in the Earles Community.

According to the notice, the Corps of Engineers issued federal approval under a Nationwide Permit based on the claim that the mine project would only involve impacts to 0.394 acres of wetlands and that it would have “no effect” on any federally threatened or endangered species. The group argues the Corps’ decision is seriously flawed because of its failure to consider protected species and critical habitat, notably the federally endangered Atlantic sturgeon and the Black River, as well as its failure to fulfill other mandatory obligations under the ESA, which are designed to protect species and their habitats.

In a press release issued September 17, by the SCELP staff attorney Jessie White explained the significance of the Corps’ violations.

“The Corps has a statutory duty to ensure that any activity it authorizes is not likely to impact protected species or critical habitat but it is impossible to satisfy this obligation without consideration of the full range of potential impacts, which the Corps has failed to do here at the most basic level,” said White. Other agencies listed in the notice are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project is a nonprofit public interest law firm, dedicated to the protection of South Carolina’s environment. Its mission is to protect the natural environment of South Carolina by providing legal services and advice to environmental organizations and concerned citizens and by improving the state’s system of environmental regulation.

Coastal Conservation League’s North Coast Office Director Erin Pate, said the proposed mine threatens the quality of life of the people in the Earles Community and could deplete residential wells, cause sinkholes, drain wetlands and create devastating impacts to plant and marine life. “The Corps has a basic, yet crucial, responsibility to conduct an exhaustive review of potential impacts like these before permitting a major project like this mine,” said Pate who has attended many of the meetings over the past year. “They have not done the work, and as a consequence, the community and ecosystem are at risk.” The Corps has 60 days to take corrective actions on the violations before a complaint may be filed in federal district court.

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