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DEP Says No Oil Drilling Permits Issued for Everglades

Rasmus Bøgeskov Larsen via Flickr

In response to a Florida Senator’s concerns over future oil drilling in the Everglades, the state Department of Environmental Protection says no oil exploration permits have been issued in Florida’s River of Grass.  Whether or not that’s the case depends on your definition of the Everglades.

Sen. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, issued a letter to DEP secretary Herschel Vinyard Monday requesting a suspension of oil exploration permits that have been approved in the Everglades. The Kissimmee Democrat’s letter states that such activity would, “represent a major change in policy without our approval.” 

Vinyard responded in a letter Tuesday saying that although Florida has 162 oil and gas wells in operation, no exploration or drilling permits are approved for the Everglades.

“It seems that there’s a bit of semantics going on as to exactly what the Everglades is,” said Florida Current Senior Writer Bruce Ritchie.

“DEP was only referring to the public lands that constitute the Everglades Protection Area and Everglades National Park. If you look at maps you’ll see wells in various locations in the counties down there with the words, “Everglades” so it’s a broader scope of what the Everglades really is.”

DEP maps indicate drilling sites in Southwest Florida near the Corkscrew Swamp, Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge and Picayune Strand, all of which are within the greater Everglades ecosystem.

Also, DEP’s website indicates 13 additional applications that were approved last year for drilling sites in Collier and Hendry Counties.

DEP officials would not comment further beyond their formal letter to Senator Soto.  

Click here for Sec. Vinyard's response to Sen. Soto:  http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/wgcu/files/201402/Darren_Soto_re_Everglades.pdf

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