DEP continues evaluation of Burnett Oil’s application for well pads, roads in Big Cypress National Preserve

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
Big Cypress National Preserve

One environmental group is relieved after it says the state needs more details before an oil company can move forward with projects here in Southwest Florida.

Jaclyn Lopez is the Florida Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. She said, “Big Cypress National Preserve is this miraculous place down in South Florida, it’s over 600,000 acres.”

Lopez wants to make sure it stays that way. “It had some oil and gas development in the southern part. So that’s part of its history. It’s part of its acquisition history and its potential future uses, but there hasn’t been really new development in the area for quite some time.”

However, some new development may be on the way.

Texas-based Burnett Oil Company applied for permits to build roads and well pads in the preserve, but not without questions from others.

Lopez explained, “Over the last year or so, DEP finally came back and said, look, you’re​ not giving us complete information that we need to be able to assess whether or not we can authorize the permit.”

We reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection about the application.

A spokesperson told us, with projects of this scale and scope, it’s not uncommon to ask for more information, since it needs to look at wildlife, water, and wetland protections, as well as evaluate alternatives for proposed projects.

“We’re relieved to see the DEP is really paying close attention to this project,” Lopez added.

The DEP told WINK News it has not received any permit application for the drilling of a well at this time, which is a separate permit.

We reached out to Burnett Oil Company, but have not heard back as of the time of publication.

The DEP told Burnett in a letter the Department must get a response by February 22, 2022.

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