Minority Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2021
Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer to DEP: Deny Drilling Permits in Everglades
Dangerous threats to ecosystem, water, and climate contravene any “public interest” claims
Alarmed by efforts of a Texas-based oil company to secure permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection to begin drilling in the environmentally-threatened Big Cypress National Preserve, Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point) on Friday called on the agency to deny any authorization.
“I have serious concerns about the prospect of new oil extraction efforts inside Big Cypress, a vital area of the Greater Everglades ecosystem, and request that the Department deny authorization of any permits that would authorize or help to facilitate new oil drilling in this critical area of our state,” wrote Leader Farmer in a letter sent to DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein.
According to news reports, Burnett Oil Co. earlier this year submitted applications to DEP to construct new roads and drilling pads for work which would cover more than 30 acres. The company plans to commence oil drilling operations by next year.
The permit applications sounded alarms within the environmental community, which has struggled for years to protect the endangered Greater Everglades ecosystem, a vital area on the front lines of helping Florida mitigate the damaging impacts of climate change, and habitat to countless threatened and endangered species.
“Big Cypress and the rest of the Greater Everglades ecosystem is important not only to our climate resiliency but our state’s economic health as well,” wrote Leader Farmer, noting the 65,000 to 70,000 jobs expected to come over the next four years as a result of Everglades restoration efforts. In Big Cypress alone, 1,080 jobs were supported, compared to just 700 jobs statewide supported by oil and gas production in 2018.
“I fail to see how potentially damaging new oil and gas activities within Big Cypress…can reasonably be purported to be ‘clearly in the public interest,’” he continued. “Protecting our country’s first National Preserve, Big Cypress, translates to protecting an iconic Florida Preserve that supports Florida’s communities, our Everglades, our drinking water, our wildlife, our climate, and our tourism-based economy.”