The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is addressing concerns from Collier County leaders and residents. The agency says it’s increasing transparency in its dealings with a Texas-based oil company that was recently fined for using an authorized drilling method in the county.
Residents and Collier County Commissioners have been asking DEP officials to provide more information about what happened in an oil well south of Lake Trafford.
The Dan A. Hughes Company was fined by the state agency in April for using an unapproved fracking-like procedure to extract more oil.
Commissioners said during a meeting several days ago that state regulators were not properly enforcing laws. They were also concerned about the agency’s transparency as state officials insisted on only private meetings with county officials. But, DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard said the agency is working to be more transparent now.
“I think we have had very, very productive meetings with local elected officials,” he said. “We will continue to improve on our communication with them and again our objective is to make sure that this process transparent and as we gather more data, we will share it with the public.”
The DEP has since required Dan A. Hughes hold three public meetings in Collier County. The agency wants company officials to explain their plans as well as answer questions from the community. Vinyard said he’s also addressing concerns about groundwater testing near the well site.
“We are dispatching our own crew of experts from Tallahassee—professional geologists, professional engineers,” Vinyard explained. “And we will be conducting our own sampling. We are not going to wait around for the lawyers to finish lawyering.”
Collier County Commissioner Tom Henning met with Vinyard earlier this week to discuss the community’s concerns.