A Miami company is bracing for a likely battle with environmentalists after applying to drill for oil in the Everglades.
Kanter Real Estate LLC, which owns 20,000 undeveloped acres of the Everglades in southwestern Broward County, filed applications with the state to drill an exploratory well to assess the feasibility of extracting oil.
The news hasn't set well with environmental advocates, who say drilling would threaten the water supply, destroy wildlife habitat and complicate the restoration of the delicate Everglades ecosystem.
"I can tell you categorically it's a big concern," said Lisa Interlandi, staff attorney for the Everglades Law Center. "Oil drilling is not historically compatible with protecting the water supply and Everglades restoration."
Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, said he would fight the proposal but that state regulators tend to rubber-stamp oil drilling applications.
"It's ludicrous to consider doing this to the Everglades and the water supply," he said.
The proponents of the plan insist it can be done while keeping the Everglades safe.
"We are excited about the opportunities this land and these resources will provide for Florida," said John Kanter. "We understand and value Florida's precious natural resources and believe the team of experts we have hired will allow us to complete the project safely while protecting Florida's environment. As stewards of this land, we are fully invested in ensuring this project provides the maximum public benefit while also providing Florida with solutions for water storage and treatment."
The plan filed with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection calls for a five-acre oil pad, with the drill reaching 11,800 feet. Once operational, the drilling would take place 24 hours a day for 60 to 80 days, with a crew of 12 to 18 people on site. The Sun-Sentinel reports the well would be exploratory only, with no announced plans for pipelines or other means of transporting the oil.
It would not be the first oil-drilling effort in the Everglades. Companies held by descendants of entrepreneur Barron Collier have drilled for oil in parts of the Everglades in southwest Florida for decades.