By Andy Reid
4:59 PM EDT, August 7, 2013
A massive rock mine should not be allowed to eat up Palm Beach County farmland that was once part of the Everglades, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The decision by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals stops U.S. Sugar Corp. from turning 7,000 acres of its farmland south of Lake Okeechobee into a rock mine.
The ruling was another big victory for environmental groups who have now used the courts to foil plans for at least three rock mining operations, which they argued threatened Everglades restoration.
“It’s a big victory for the Everglades,” said Lisa Interlandi, an attorney for the Everglades Law Center. “This area is intended to remain agricultural and to be available for Everglades restoration.”
Between 2006 and 2010, Palm Beach County approved new or expanded rock mining on 20,000 acres of western farmland, despite environmental concerns.
Rock mining produces material for road building and other construction. But environmentalists have long warned that the deep digging and blasting of rock mining threatens to pollute water supplies and get in the way of Everglades restoration.
1000 Friends of Florida and the Sierra Club were among the environmental groups that filed the legal challenges, arguing that the rock mining proposals would run afoul of restrictions aimed at limiting rock mining to agricultural operations, Everglades restoration or producing materials just for public road construction.
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