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Local Lawmaker Says Judge's Ruling On Oil Permit In Collier Is 'Problematic'

Ashley Lopez

A local lawmaker said a recent ruling upholding an oil drilling permit in Collier County is “problematic.”

An administrative law judge on Tuesday backed the Dan A. Hughes Company’s permit to drill an exploratory oil well in Collier County.

Local residents and advocates had asked the judge to compel the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to revoke the company’s permit. But, the judge did not agree with the petitioners whom claimed the oil exploration site was a threat to wildlife and groundwater.

State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, who represents parts of Collier County and has been raising concerns about the proposed drilling site, said he’s disappointed by the ruling.

“It really sends the wrong message to folks that have really been advocating for responsible drilling,” he said. “And, I mean, we are not even really talking about a ban on drilling, we are just talking about being responsible.”

Bullard said Dan A. Hughes and state officials should be taking a closer look at the permit in light of news the company recently skirted state regulators when it used an unauthorized drilling method near Lake Trafford.

A local advisory board recently asked the DEP to revoke the company’s permit because the impact on wildlife and residents living near the site was unclear.