Residents of Golden Gate might have another shot at stopping oil drilling in their backyard.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) set an October 21st deadline recently for residents to request an administrative hearing that could overturn two recently approved drilling permits.
The DEP approved a drilling site within a thousand feet of homes in Golden Gate Estates, which nearby residents say is a safety concern.
Activist Karen Dwyer, who has been working with many of the people who would be living right next to the oil site to stop it, said she hopes this administrative hearing will make a difference.
“So, we are still hoping that they will overturn their ruling and I think that’s the point of challenging FDEP’s decision is so that we could ask that they could reconsider,” she said.
Dwyer said the permits should not have been approved in the first place, but she admits that the regulatory agency is hamstrung by its own rules. DEP officials have said there is no state law in place that bans oil drilling sites from being close to residential property. The oil site in Golden Gate also met the DEP’s safety and environmental checklist.
Dwyer said if the DEP does not decide to overturn the permit, she wants it to enforce stricter safety rules at the site. Dwyer said her group is putting together the written hearing request in the next couple of days. She said there are a lot of guidelines requiring a lot of work and detail.
In a recent statement from DEP, oil and gas officials said they do not have any recollection of a permit ever being denied based on a citizen petition, or “a petition resulting in the overturning of a permit that was approved.”