The Real Deal Miami

Environmental groups oppose permit to explore for Everglades oil

The state has until Oct. 24 to decide whether to renew a permit allowing a Texas firm to continue looking for oil in the Big Cypress National Preserve
October 01, 2017 11:00AM

Big Cypress National Preserve

A Texas company’s application to renew a state permit to explore for oil in the Everglades drew protests from environmental organizations.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has until Oct. 24 to decide whether to renew the permit held by Fort Worth, Texas-based Burnett Oil Co.

The permit has allowed Burnett to use specialized trucks that pound the ground in seismic testing for oil deposits across 110 square miles of the Big Cypress National Preserve.

Four environmental groups including the Natural Resource Defense Council filed letters with the DEP, protesting renewal of Burnett’s permit and citing damage and destruction of trees due to the company’s ongoing oil-exploration operations.

The Big Cypress National Preserve, about an hour-long drive west of Fort Lauderdale, is a habitat for Florida panthers, bears, alligators and wading birds. The reserve is also the home of two active oil wells that have been in operation since the 1970s.

In 1974, the preserve was created with land provided by the Collier family, descendants of pioneering Florida developer Barron Collier. But the family retained the mineral rights of the preserve, and federal law allows the Colliers to drill for oil there themselves or work with others to do so. [Sun-Sentinel] Mike Seemuth