The Army Corps of Engineers has granted PCS Phosphate a draft permit and Beaufort County officials say they expect a more final permit to be issued in two weeks. That's when things could get complicated because the Environmental Protection Agency has indicated they've got some concerns with PCS's permit, so much so, they might veto it which could mean more layoffs for the local company that's already had to make employee cuts. PCS needs that permit to continue mining.
Thursday Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill spoke at Washington's Civic Center where more than 100 were gathered with a goal aimed at expanding Beaufort Counties economy.
Beaufort County Commissioner Robert Cayton told WITN he's frustrated with the EPA.
"You don't wait until the last minute to ask questions that could stop the process, bring your concerns to the table so they are looked at. You don't do anything to delay the process that would indicate you're not playing as fairly as you could because you're dealing with people's lives, their future, whether you can send your kids to college or not."
Local officials tell me, their goal now is to gather as much support for PCS as possible. A group just got back from Washington, DC. lobbying congressional leaders in support of PCS as well. Spruill says he'll make the trip back as often as needed, since losing the permit would have a devastating impact on our economy.
WITN did try and get in touch with the EPA to find out why they would issue a veto, however we did not receive a response back. In the past, environmentalists have claimed PCS's mining would destroy local wetlands and fisheries.