PCS decision solicits different reactions

Published 7:38 pm Friday, May 8, 2009

By Staff
Environmentalists unhappy; legislator, company pleased
Staff Writer
Reaction to Thursday’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s decision on a proposed PCS Phosphate expansion permit was swift and partisan Friday. The Corps largely ignored Environmental Protection Agency objections to a proposed expansion of mining operations at the company’s Aurora plant.
PCS spokeswoman Michelle Vaught praised the decision and directed attention to the next step in the process.
Derb Carter, with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said the decision wasn’t good and wasn’t a surprise.
He said the Corps’ decision was overly dismissive of the value of the Pamlico River.
The SELC is representing a coalition of environmental groups in the matter, including the Washington-based Pamlico-Tar River Foundation.
Congressman Walter Jones, a Republican who represents part of Beaufort County, praised the decision.
A call to the EPA for comment was not returned by close of business Thursday.
PCS wants to dig up thousands of acres of wetlands as it expands its mining area. Environmentalists have said the expansion includes wetlands the company could afford to avoid. The EPA recently has become more vocal about objections along the same lines.
The letter from the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army to the Acting Assistant Administrator of the EPA in which the Corps relayed its decision, Thursday, emphasized the extent to which PCS has been willing to compromise and the amount of wetlands restoration it will perform.