TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Florida Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point) has called on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to reject a Texas-based company’s request for oil drilling permits at Big Cypress Natural Preserve.
Big Cypress borders the Florida Everglades and is home to endangered species found in the state.
The company applied for permits to begin oil drilling preparation inside of Big Cypress several days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ceded authority for wetlands permitting to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
In a letter sent to FDEP Secretary, Noah Valenstein, Sen. Farmer said that he is “alarmed” by the company’s efforts to obtain these permits and called on the FDEP to deny the authorization of any permits “that would authorize or help to facilitate new oil drilling in this critical area of our state.”
“I have serious concerns about the prospect of new oil extraction efforts inside Big Cypress, a vital area of the Greater Everglades ecosystem, and request that the Department deny authorization of any permits that would authorize or help to facilitate new oil drilling in this critical area of our state,” Sen. Farmer wrote.
“Big Cypress and the rest of the Greater Everglades ecosystem is important not only to our climate resiliency but our state’s economic health as well,” the senator added.
According to the letter, there are 65,000 to 70,000 jobs that expected to come over the next four years as a result of Everglades restoration efforts. In Big Cypress alone, 1,080 jobs were supported, compared to just 700 jobs statewide supported by oil and gas production in 2018.
“I fail to see how potentially damaging new oil and gas activities within Big Cypress…can reasonably be purported to be ‘clearly in the public interest,’” Sen. Farmer continued. “Protecting our country’s first National Preserve, Big Cypress, translates to protecting an iconic Florida Preserve that supports Florida’s communities, our Everglades, our drinking water, our wildlife, our climate, and our tourism-based economy.”
Florida AG Commissioner Nikki Fried also recently called to reject these permits.
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