Did Gov. DeSantis stop oil drilling in the Everglades?

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis at event on Fisherman’s Warf in Fort Myers Beach. (Credit: WINK News)

Governor Ron DeSantis came to Southwest Florida Tuesday to collect an endorsement from the Everglades Trust.

“When a company wanted to drill for oil in the Everglades, Governor DeSantis said no, and he extinguished that threat,” said Anna Upton, the CEO of the Everglades Trust on Tuesday.

But did Governor DeSantis actually stop big oil from drilling in the Everglades? The answer is not as easy as saying “Yes” or “No.”

WINK News focused on what two “Big Oil” companies tried to do during the governor’s first term.

In the case of Kanter Real Estate, the answer is yes. In 2020, the governor cut a deal with Kanter. The company tried for years to drill in the Everglades.

“So we’ll permanently save the land from oil production, but it will also be even apart from the largest wetland acquisition in a decade,” said DeSantis.

“This is a really bold action to stop oil and gas drilling in one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world,” said Chauncey Goss, with the South Florida Water Management District governing board.

The fear remains that a Texas oil company may try to drill in Big Cypress National Preserve.

The Miccosukee tribe protested last year after Burnett Oil filed an application with the Department of Environmental Protection. They later withdrew their request.

Environmentalists worry Burnett could simply come back and ask again.

WINK News asked Jaclyn Lopez, with the Center for Biological Diversity, about Burnett’s plans a year ago. “We think it would be detrimental to the purpose of the preserve, which is to conserve the hydrology and ecology of that space.”

Did the governor stop Burnett Oil? The answer is not clear.

When it comes to the CEO of Everglades Trust’s claim that DeSantis helped stop oil drilling in the Everglades, WINK News found it to be mostly true.

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