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Lawsuit fear hobbles Manatee mine decision

Published By: Charlotte Sun

BRADENTON — For the 23rd time in five years, the Manatee County Commission Thursday postponed approving a 2,048-acre phosphate mine in the headwaters of Horse Creek.

And this time, some Manatee officials fear their county will get sued if they reject the so-called Altman Tract mine — and sued if they don't.

Assistant County Attorney William Clague called for the delay, until Sept. 16, because a group of environmental organizations had sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the federal permit for the same mine earlier this week.

Clague said he wanted to review the federal suit to make sure his county wouldn't get drawn into that litigation if it approves Mosaic's so-called Altman Tract mine, located in eastern Manatee County.

The Sierra Club, Manasota-88 and the Gulf Restoration Network filed their suit in federal court Wednesday.

Charlotte County had also challenged a state permit for the mine some six years ago. The county won, but Mosaic revised its proposal to preserve a so-called Central Marsh, and ultimately won state approval.

The Altman Tract is located amid a 45,000-acre area in eastern Manatee County that contains the headwaters of the Myakka River and Horse Creek. That area also contains one of the richest phosphate deposits in Central Florida's Bone Valley reserve, said Joe McClash, Manatee County commissioner.

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