Florida Conservation Groups Fight Onshore Drilling Expansions
Friday, December 13, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Faced with strong bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling, some oil companies are finding success by tapping deeper into Florida's little-known onshore oil-drilling industry.
The Sunshine State has been producing oil from wells in southwest Florida and the Panhandle for decades. The controversial practice has been challenged with numerous lawsuits for operating in some of the state's most pristine natural areas.
Georgia Ackerman, riverkeeper and executive director with the group Apalachicola Riverkeeper, says she wants Gov. Ron DeSantis and state regulators to reverse course on allowing drilling in the Apalachicola River Basin, the same way they fight offshore drilling.
"We understand the threats that that brings to our coastal waters and shorelines,” says Ackerman. “Onshore drilling close to rivers, near wetlands and floodplains presents some of the same types of risks."
Regulators in the Oil and Gas program at Florida's Department of Environmental Protection gave the green light to Dallas-based Cholla Petroleum to drill six exploratory wells, which environmental scientists argue could put water supplies throughout the Panhandle at risk.
A spokesperson for the environmental agency said "oil and gas permits, including exploratory, are carefully evaluated under Florida law... to ensure that all aspects of the operation will follow the law and are protective of the environment."
But Ackerman says even minor accidents could be harmful during high and low tides.
"You can imagine oil contaminants or the types of chemicals that are associated with drilling,” says Ackerman, “that getting mixed into our wetlands and waterways presents a challenge."
DEP also approved Spooner Petroleum of Mississippi conducting exploratory drilling in Gulf County. The Kanter Real Estate group recently won approval to drill an exploratory well in the Everglades ecosystem after a legal battle that started in 2015.
While those plans move forward over the objections of environmental groups, oil drilling within 125 miles of the Florida coast has been banned since 2006. That moratorium is set to expire in 2022.
get more stories like this via email
A bill in Congress with a Connecticut House sponsor aims to reduce child labor in the United States. Called the "Children Harmed in Life-Threatening …
As the opioid crisis continues, more New Hampshire grandparents are seeking financial help to raise their grandchildren. Already struggling with the …
As of Jan. 1, insulin will become a lot more affordable for many Nebraskans, and those who have come to rely on telehealth visits are more likely to …
Some state and local lawmakers are on a long list calling on New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to require big oil companies to help offset the costs of …
Health and Wellness
November has been Diabetes Awareness Month - but heading into the holidays, people who are diabetic know they can't lose their focus on keeping it in …
Conservation groups are celebrating a long-fought battle to protect the dwindling population of wolverine in the Northwest and northern Rockies…
As world leaders gather in Dubai for the international conference on climate change, the City of Long Beach is acting on multiple fronts to help the …
A new report is calling for greater accountability in the system providing funding to farmers in underserved communities. The research takes a dive …