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Georgia House bill would ban mining near Okefenokee Swamp
In this file photo, canoers enjoy a ride through the Okefenokee Swamp. The General Assembly is weighing in on a controversial proposal to mine titanium near the swamp - photo by EDDIE LEDBETTER/file

ATLANTA – The General Assembly is weighing in on a controversial proposal to mine titanium near the Okefenokee Swamp.

A bipartisan bill introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives would prohibit the state Environmental Protection Division from issuing permits for surface mining along Trail Ridge between the St. Marys and Satilla rivers.

“The Okefenokee Swamp is a vital part of Georgia with more than local significance,” the bill states.

“[It] is properly a matter for regulation and protection under the authority of the state of Georgia to ensure the values and functions of the Okefenokee Swamp, including its status as a popular and historic tourist attraction, are not impaired.”

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals is seeking permits from the state to mine titanium dioxide at a site three miles from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the largest black water swamp in North America.

The project’s opponents say the mine could damage adjacent wetlands and permanently affect the hydrology of the entire 438,000-acre swamp.

The legislation comes less than a week after The Chemours Company, an American chemical company spun off of DuPont, announced it will not buy the

proposed mine or acquire Twin Pines Minerals.

Twin Pines responded that the Chemours commitment to protect the Okefenokee will not affect its plans for the mine.

House Bill 1289 is sponsored by five Republicans and one Democrat. The chief sponsor is Rep. Darlene Taylor, R-Thomasville.

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