We're a day late in getting to this post but the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday sent a biting response to the letter from Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, asking them to halt permits for oil and gas exploration in the Everglades.
In fact, Soto may have been trapped in a bit of semantics -- the permits appear to be issued on the edge of the Everglades not within the actual Everglades National Park as we know it. Nonetheless, DEP explained that the agency "has never even received an application for oil and gas exploration in the Everglades. In fact, there has never been a single permit issued for any oil and gas exploration in the Everglades." Download DEP repsonse to Darren Soto re Everglades
"While there are challenges to restoration efforts in The Everglades, oil and gas exploration is not one of them," Vinyard wrote.
Vinyard may be technically right but his letter did not explain why there are investors hoping to search for oil on the western edge of the Everglades in Naples and in the Big Cypress National Preserve, as reported in the Saturday's Orlando Sentinel.
In fact, the Miami Herald reported last year on the move by oil companies to purchase mineral rights for speculative oil drilling covering massive swaths of Collier, Lee and Hendry counties -- which border the massive Everglades park. Environmentalists are concerned about the impact wells will have on groundwater in the ecologically-sensitive region, and on the wilderness prowled by endangered Florida panthers, black bears, wild turkeys and other wildlife.