Leonardo DiCaprio urges fans to oppose mining near the Okefenokee

The controversial project’s proposed permit is under review by Georgia regulators
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends Netflix's "Don't Look Up" World Premiere on Dec. 5, 2021, in New York City.(Mike Coppola/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends Netflix's "Don't Look Up" World Premiere on Dec. 5, 2021, in New York City.(Mike Coppola/Getty Images/TNS)

Actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio came out against a controversial mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp Friday, publishing a statement to his Instagram account urging fans to “save one of the most significant wetlands on Earth.”

”The Okefenokee Swamp’s National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia was created to protect native wildlife and the ethereal rivers that wind through its 400-year-old cypress forests,” DiCaprio posted to his account, which has 62 million followers.

DiCaprio, an Oscar-winning actor and climate activist, is among the highest-profile critics of the proposal by Alabama-based company Twin Mines, which is seeking a permit for a 582-acre demonstration mine on Trail Ridge, the line of ancient dunes on the east side of the swamp. The titanium-rich minerals Twin Pines is after are most commonly used to make whitening compounds for paint and toothpaste.

DiCaprio pointed to the ecological and climate implications of the project, drawing attention to the April 9 deadline for public comment to Georgia regulators evaluating the proposed mine’s pending permit.

“As the largest blackwater swamp in North America, the Okefenokee is a massive carbon sink, storing the equivalent of 145 million tons of carbon dioxide in forests, aquatic plants, soils, and peat,” he said. “Mining next to the Okefenokee not only threatens the swamp’s critical biodiversity, but it also puts the swamp’s water levels at risk. When peatlands are dewatered, they release vast quantities of carbon-rich greenhouse gasses and put the area at risk for catastrophic wildfires, exacerbating climate change.”

The Twin Pines mine has drawn backlash from conservationists and many Georgians who want more protections for the swamp. The company says it will provide jobs and will not harm the wetland.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division recently released draft permits for the project.

The issue also caused friction in the state Legislature, which debated multiple bills intended to protect the swamp but closed out the session without passing any new laws.

EPD’s experts have mostly agreed with Twin Pines’ assessment that the mine won’t hurt the swamp. Twin Pines says its project will create 400 jobs with salaries of about $60,000.

But environmental groups claim the project risks irreparable harm to the swamp and its wildlife. Outside scientists — including some with the federal government — have also questioned the conclusions of the company and EPD.

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