A federal court in Florida has issued a preliminary injunction barring Mosaic Company from beginning to mine a 700-acre portion of the Hardee County extension of the South Meade phosphate mine. Sierra Club v. Corps, No. 10-564 (M.D. Fl. 7/8/11). Plaintiffs alleged that the company’s Clean Water Act section 404 permit—which was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and allows phosphate strip mining in 7,687 acres of wetlands, streams, and uplands—violates the Clean Water Act and NEPA because the Corps did not hold a public hearing or conduct an environmental impact analysis before issuing the permit.
In April 2011, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a previous preliminary injunction that prevented Mosaic from advancing the project and set aside the district court’s decision to remand a permit back to the Corps. The appeals court ordered the district court to analyze the full record to determine whether the Corps came to the correct conclusion and directed the district court to stay the issuance of the permit for 90 days to proceed with a merits determination. The stay expired on July 7, 2011.
In issuing this preliminary injunction, the district court held that Area 2 of the project, which Mosaic sought to mine without a permit, required a change in access corridors and the order of the mining plan. The court ordered the project to be halted until the case is decided on the merits.