Rock miners on Wednesday lost another legal round in their push to dig on Palm Beach County agricultural land eyed for Everglades restoration.
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal sided with a coalition of environmental groups and ruled against plans for the nearly 4,000-acre South Bay Quarry near Belle Glade.
The court disputed the notion that mining would be primarily for agricultural or road-building purposes, which are among the qualifications for mining in the vast farming area south of Lake Okeechobee that was once part of the Everglades.
Environmental groups contend that the digging and blasting of rock mining threatens to eat up land needed for Everglades restoration. They also argue that the deep pits can lead to contaminated water supplies.
The courts have now ruled against two of the three western mining proposals challenged by environmental groups that include the Sierra Club and 1000 Friends of Florida.
"Piercing giant … holes in the ground" doesn’t fit with restoration efforts, said Robert Hartsell, attorney for the environmental groups.
Rock mining harvests limestone for road building and other construction materials. Rock mining companies dispute environmental concerns, saying that each mine has to go through years of review by state and federal regulators before harvesting can begin.
Palm Beach County has approved about 24,000 acres of rock mining in the Everglades Agricultural Area since 2006, despite environmental objections.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun