Court refuses to block Everglades oil drilling plan

Everglades
KATHERINE RODEGHIER/CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TNS
Airboats skim over the Florida Everglades, a vast wetland flowing from Lake Okeechobee south to the tip of Florida’s mainland.

BY DAVID FLESHLER
SUN SENTINEL/TNS

FORT LAUDERDALE – A plan to drill for oil in the Everglades again won a major legal victory Tuesday, one day after a false alarm in which an appeals court issued an ordering affirming the proposal and then withdrew it as “issued in error.”

The First District Court of Appeal announced that its decision in favor of the plan would stand, despite a request by the state of Florida, Broward County and the city of Miramar to rehear the case.

Kanter Real Estate LLC, which owns about 20,000 acres in the Everglades, plans to drill an exploratory well about six miles west of Miramar. Although the Florida Department of Environmental Protection refused to issue a permit, the company challenged the denial and won a series of court victories.

Motion denied

A three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeal found in favor of the company last month, ordering the state to issue a permit.

Under Gov. Ron DeSantis, the state had asked the full court to rehear the case, arguing that it was of high public importance. Joining the state in the request were Broward County, the city of Miramar and the South Florida Wildlands Association.

But the court on Tuesday refused the request.

“Motion for rehearing en banc filed by the appellee, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, on February 20, 2019, is denied,” stated an announcement posted on the court’s website.

‘Moving forward’

John Kanter, the company’s president, said the court’s decision again showed that the company’s plans complied with the law.

“Our focus on being responsible applicants and operators has been validated once again by yet another judicial proceeding,” he said. “We are happy to be finally moving forward.”

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