'Not Here, Not Now, Not Everglades': Wetland Conservationists Call For No Oil Drilling

Feb 19, 2019

Next to the airboats at the entrance to Everglades Holiday Park, about thirty people from The Sierra Club, the Broward County League of Women Voters, and other environmentalist groups stood together holding signs Tuesday that read "Not Here, Not Now, Not Everglades."

The groups gathered, along with local lawmakers, to speak out against drilling for oil in the wetlands they were standing in. 

"As we look out on the Everglades on this beautiful day, it's hard to believe that someone would even consider spoiling this, but they are," Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr said. 

 


Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned a decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The new ruling granted a Broward County landowner, Kanter Real Estate LLC, a permit to drill an exploratory oil well in the Everglades - near Miramar. 

Read More: Court Clears Way For Drilling In Everglades Oil Well Near Miramar

Kanter owns 20,000 acres in Broward County and first applied to drill in the Everglades back in 2015.

The Feb. 5th court ruling siding with Kanter reads in part: "The property upon which the well site is to be located has no special characteristics that would make it susceptible to pollution." 

The conservationists gathered in the park were a fraction of the more than 70 groups and South Florida cities that submitted a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis early Tuesday. The letter asks that DeSantis oppose the court ruling, and protect the Everglades from any drilling in the future. 

But they are running out of time. The state's deadline to respond to the court ruling is Wednesday. 

"What we need to do is all these different groups...need to ask Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection... to make that appeal. We have one day," Furr told the crowd. 

He went on to call the ruling a contradiction to Everglades restoration. 

"We can't be dedicated to cleaning up the Everglades on one hand, and degrading it with the other," he said.

For Kanter Real Estate's oil well to move forward, the company still would need other types of permits, zoning changes and approval from Broward County. But last week County Commissioners asked the County attorney to take legal action against the drilling. 

City of Miramar Mayor, Wayne Messam, said his city will also be using any resources it can to fight the drilling.  

"Just the thought of any drill bit piercing our limestone to threaten our water cannot be tolerated," Messam said.

A fisherman waits by the airboats at Everglades Holiday Park on Tuesday Feb. 19,2019. The proposed exploratory oil drilling project would open a well just west of the park.
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN