The Florida Everglades may soon be the site of new oil and gas drilling operations. A Miami real estate developer has, after a four-year legal battle, received a permit to drill an exploratory oil well in the Everglades, just west of populous Broward County suburbs. The developer applied for a permit to drill on on five acres in the Everglades in 2015, but the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) denied the application because there is less than a 25% chance of finding sufficient oil to warrant a drilling operations, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The DEP has a longstanding policy to deny oil and gas permits in areas like the Everglades, which is in the process of being restored — the land is located in one of the South Florida Water Management District’s three conservation areas.
- Environmental groups organized a protest on Tuesday. “Today, we’re sending a strong message: Not here, not now, not ever, not oil rigs in our Everglades,” said Diana Umpierre, Everglades restoration organizer for the Sierra Club.
- The Biscayne Aquifer sits just below the surface in the Everglades, and that’s the largest source of drinking water for South Floridians, about 8 million people.
- The Everglades spans 1.5 million acres of federally protected wetlands and they are home to many endangered species.
- Those opposed are urging the Governor to step in and put a halt to the project.
Why This Matters: Florida’s Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, opposes offshore oil and gas drilling and promised during his Gubernatorial campaign to continue Everglades restoration. So it makes no sense for him to support oil and gas drilling in another of the state’s important tourism drivers, the Everglades. The harm caused by an oil leak or spill in the Everglades would be devastating and harm an area that has been the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in restoration funding. As one Palm Beach County Commissioner put it, “If our beaches are important enough to protect from drilling, why aren’t our Everglades?”