Many cities in Broward County have passed resolutions opposing plans by a Miami-based company to conduct exploratory oil drilling in the Everglades. The company’s plans include digging up to two miles to explore the chances of extracting oil.
Miramar, which is the city that will be the most affected if the drilling took place, acted first and exhorted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to deny the company permission to drill. Over the last few weeks, other cities in the region have followed suit. The County Commission, too, has officially recorded its opposition and will seek an amendment of state law to ensure that the project does not go through.
Cities such as Coconut Creek, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Parkland, Lauderhill, Hallandale Beach, Plantation, Weston and Wilton Manors have all passed resolutions against the move by Miami-based Kantor Real Estate LLC, a company that owns about 20,000 acres of land in the Everglades. The cities, as well as environmental groups, are concernednot only about the potential environmental effects of the drilling but also the negative effects the project would have on the quality of drinking water in the region.
The company is on record that the project will not adversely affect the environment, but cities are not willing to take a chance. “It is more than animals; it is more than plants,” said Tamarac Mayor Harry Dressler. “We don’t like the idea of our water supply being threatened by anyone, whether it is external to us or not.”
Matthew Schwartz, South Florida Wildlands Association executive director, was at a recent Tamarac City Commission workshop to speak on the issue. “This is a bad idea,” he said. “There is not a good way to make oil drilling in the Everglades eco-friendly.”
“Oil is a big investment for a lot of people,” Schwartz said. “The tax benefits are tremendous. If you hit, you make a lot of money. If you don’t hit, you get the tax write-off.”
In May 2013, A company had applied to drill for oil in Collier County, just 1,000 feet away from the Golden Gates community in East Naples, Schwartz said. “Nobody knew that there was even private land, let alone drilling rights, in the water conservation area when Kantor made the application…You can have a public landowner owning the surface rights and a private landowner owning the mineral rights. That is what happened here.”
A company that wants to drill in the Everglades has to get the permission of cities that are adjacent to it before it can start drilling, said Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell. “Drilling and fracking in the Biscayne aquifer are pretty significant environmental issues,” he said. “Both of those are very significant to our city, our property and our citizens.”
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