Local elected leaders and opponents of the Kanter Real Estate oil drilling proposal call on the Governor, the legislature, and the public to support the efforts to stop Kanter’s plan.
A proposal to drill for oil in the Everglades was attacked by politicians and environmentalists Tuesday, as they urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to step in and stop it.
At a news conference at Everglades Holiday Park in southwest Broward County, a parade of speakers denounced the proposal by Kanter Real Estate LLC for an exploratory well a few miles west of Miramar. Speaking over the occasional drone of airboats, they called on the governor to tell the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to continue the legal fight against the project.
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“As we look out on the Everglades on this beautiful day, it’s hard to believe that someone would consider spoiling this, but they are,” County Commissioner Beam Furr said .
Seventy-two civic, religious, environmental and governmental organization signed a letter to DeSantis, asking him to protect the Everglades from the drilling project.
“Today, we’re sending a strong message: Not here, not now, not ever, not oil rigs in our Everglades,” said Diana Umpierre, Everglades restoration organizer for the Sierra Club.
As she spoke, opponents of the project held signs that read “No oil drilling,” “No drilling in our backyard” and “Stop the Oil Rigs.”
Although the company’s application for a drilling permit had been rejected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the company won twice in court, with the First District Court of Appeal ordering the state to issue the permit. Wednesday is the deadline for the state to appeal that ruling, Furr said.
“Today, we are asking the governor to step in and back up the Department of Environmental Protection,” he said.
The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection also did not respond.
Kanter Real Estate represents the family of Joseph Kanter, a Florida developer and banker who bought 20,000 acres in the Everglades for a town that was never built.
John Kanter, his son and the company’s president, issued a written statement noting that the project had already won the backing of two courts.
“We are grateful for the First District ruling as we’ve always trusted the legal process to preserve our landowner rights,” he said. “We now have two separate legal jurisdictions that have opined on our case, and they both found that we have met or exceeded all rules and regulations for this project. We have assembled our team of experts, and are consulting with Family, advisors, and counsel regarding next steps.”
Whether or not the state files an appeal, the fight is far from over. The Broward County Commission has agreed to fight the project and is a party to the court case. The project would also need permits and a land-use change from the county.
Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam said the project threatened the region’s water.
“Our water utility gets millions of gallons of water out of our local aquifer that sit just beneath our feet,” he said. “And just the thought of any drill bit piercing our limestone, injecting God-knows-what into it to threaten our water, cannot be tolerated.”
Opponents drew support from Palm Beach County, with Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay joining the list of protesters.
“It is inconceivable that anyone would consider allowing drilling in the Everglades,” she said. “I drove down here this morning and I came down the Sawgrass Expressway, and I couldn’t help thinking someday, God help us if we have to look to the west and see oil rigs. That just can’t happen.”