Collier Commissioners Look Into Oil Drilling Buffer

Sep 24, 2013

Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU

Collier County Commissioners agreed to look into creating a buffer zone between residential property and oil drilling Tuesday. The decision followed news that a state agency approved an oil site within 1,000 feet of homes in Golden Gate.

Karen Dwyer and other activists in Eastern Collier County asked lawmakers to put some local rules in place that protect residents from oil drilling. Among the many suggested safety guidelines, Dwyer asked for a mile long buffer zone between an oil site and residential property.

She said the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) couldn’t do anything to protect the homes near a newly-approved site within a neighborhood in Golden Gate.

“The DEP couldn’t provide us with that because there are no laws in place for that,” she said. “I suppose no one ever thought an oil company would move in and drill so close to family homes. Now we know that we literally need to legislate against that.”

Dwyer said it’s now up to commissioners to put restrictions in place. She said, though, some of them have told her they are concerned this might be a state issue.

DEP officials have also said it’s up to the state Legislature to put protections in place. However, commissioners unanimously voted to have county officials look into what they can change now that the site is approved.

The motion was introduced by Commissioner Tim Nance, who directed the Commissioner’s staff do start an investigation

“The first thing we have to do and the reason why there was very little this board could do is we had to wait for someone to take some action before we could determine and evaluate it,” he said. “This is the first step in doing that.”