Environment

Florida says no to Everglades drilling near Miramar site

For decades, oil has been drilling in the Big Cypress National Preserve. A South Florida family wanted to drill in marshes much farther east, about six miles from Miramar. But on Wednesday, Florida environmental regulators rejected the request.
For decades, oil has been drilling in the Big Cypress National Preserve. A South Florida family wanted to drill in marshes much farther east, about six miles from Miramar. But on Wednesday, Florida environmental regulators rejected the request. Miami Herald Staff

A South Florida family that made its fortune in real estate and asked to drill in Everglades marshes has been turned down by state environmental regulators.

In a notice Wednesday, the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation said Kanter Real Estate failed to prove the likelihood of enough oil to merit exploratory drilling. Kanter submitted an application to drill in marshes about six miles west of Miramar more than a year ago, the easternmost bid to find oil in the Sunniland trend, a 20-mile wide, 150-mile long field that stretches from Fort Myers to Miami.

The request quickly triggered objections from nearby cities, Broward County and environmentalists, who applauded Wednesday’s decision.

“The risks to wildlife, to the Everglades, and to the Biscayne Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for millions of Floridians, made this project seem unimaginable,” Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association said in an email. “We're also glad to see DEP taking its role as a regulatory agency serious — and hope this is something we'll see more of in the future.”

Company president John Kanter told the Sun Sentinel the family had not yet decided whether to appeal the decision.

“We are disappointed by this decision after engaging in a rigorous application process and must now carefully evaluate how best to proceed, if at all,” he told the paper.

For years, oil has been pumped from a part of the trend in the Big Cypress National Preserve. About 40 wells are now active. Earlier this year, the National Park Service cleared the way for a Texas company to use massive thumper trucks for additional exploration. While less invasive than drilling, environmentalists still worry the exploration would harm wildlife. The park service disagreed, concluding in May that exploration would have no significant impacts.

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