SWFL entities split on oil drilling in the Florida Everglades

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A controversial ruling made by the Florida First District Court of Appeal this month has raised concerns about the future of oil drilling going on in the Everglades. But, what many people may not realize is just how much drilling is already happening in the state and locally in Collier County. The court made a ruling that permits drilling in the Everglades.

The Caracara Prairie Preserve in Immokalee could also become home to new oil exploration in Collier County. There are three active permits across Collier County, and the oil companies are searching for over 200,000 acres, including Big Cypress National Preserve.

Collier County is at the crossroads in an ongoing debate of whether oil drilling and exploration are needed in Florida.

Amber Crooks, environmental policy manager at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, said it’s not necessary.

“We have less than one-tenth of one percent of the oil reserves in the country,” Crooks said.

David Mica, the executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said the state has produced over 600 million barrels of oil and over 800 billion cubic feet of natural gas since the 1940s.

“Minimizing that as a part of a percentage is a ruse and a red herring that’s been used through the ages as a stopgap measure,” Mica said.

A company was caught searching for oil in 100,000 acres of Big Cypress. Crooks claims the trucks do lots of damage to the ecosystem. But, Mica said protecting the environment is a top priority, but they do have a big job to do.

“And our track record with the environment is superb, so much so, that most of your viewers don’t even know that we’ve done this,” Mica said. “That we’ve produced 600 million barrels of oil.”

Mica said its important to look for more oil.

“We’ve become much closer than we ever have to energy dominance and independence than in our lifetime,” Mica said.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is gearing up for the 2019 legislation session. It plans to put extreme pressure on lawmakers to ban fracking, the process used for digging up oil by shooting pressurized water into rocks. Crooks said it hurts the state’s depleted water supply.

“If they’re going to be using fracking or if the well is proposed in an area that is very sensitive, we’re going to be tracking that project and opposing it if need be,” Crooks said.

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