Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried asks supporters to sign petition against FL DEP over Everglades oil drilling

The Everglades
The Everglades. Photo by National Park Service.

It’s not often you see a state Cabinet official asking people to sign a petition against a fellow state agency. But that’s what Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried is asking her supporters to do.

In an email from a Political Action Committee called “Florida Consumers First,” Fried – Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat – urges supporters to pressure the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to block Kanter Real Estate’s plans to drill for oil on the edge of the  Everglades. The Florida DEP denied the company’s plans to drill exploratory wells in South Florida, but stopped fighting after a key court decision upheld the company’s right to drill.

“Tell the Florida DEP that we will not sit by and watch them destroy our water, our wildlife, our homes,” Fried writes. “Sign this petition now to protect Florida from reckless drilling.”

The email features a logo of Nikki Fried, Agriculture Commissioner, that’s from her campaign – not her official office.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, local governments in Broward County and Miramar also dropped a legal fight to get the Florida Supreme Court to hear the case, saying they didn’t receive enough cooperation from the state DEP.

Kanter Real Estate needs local approvals before proceeding with any exploratory drilling. (The Kanter permit is different from another one that’s generated controversy in the Big Cypress area near the Everglades.  Oil drilling leases have been active in Big Cypress for decades.)

“Our Department of Environmental Protection is refusing to block efforts to drill for oil in the Everglades,” Fried’s email says. “You read that right — a state agency tasked with protecting the environment will allow oil drilling in the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Made up of 1.5 million acres of wetland, the Everglades is home to numerous endangered species. Drilling there would destroy their habitat and taint the Biscayne aquifer underground, which supplies water to millions of people in this state.”

“This all happened while I was in Washington, D.C., asking for help with our state’s timber industry, which was devastated by Hurricane Michael, and warning the federal government about the wildfire dangers of all of the trees that fell during the storm… We need to work harder to protect our land, air, and water. This is where we live.”

A DEP spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on why the agency was no longer coordinating with the city of Miramar and Broward County to pursue further legal action, the Sun-Sentinel reported, but said: “We will continue to work with the county and city to provide technical assistance on this matter.”

Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Do not allow any drilling in the Florida Everglades. This move would add to the destruction of our incredible eco-systems and hasten the march to climate catastrophe. We must immediately start heeding nature’s dire warnings about what will happen as we destroy our natural resources and the delicate balance of nature that allows us as humans to survive on this planet. Protect our forests and wetlands, rivers, natural parks, oceans and more, as well.

  2. Please Stop with your plans for drilling. This present Administration is full of Greed and not one care for our environment or co-existnace between man and nature. PLEASE STOP.

  3. Shop this madness. The Everglades helps Florida regulate our environment., water, and animal life. It is there for a reason and THAT REASON IS NOT TO BUILD CONDOS, HOUSES, FACTORIES but aid in sustaining our environment.

  4. Leave the Everglades alone! rid it of the invasive pythons.
    We Floridians have allowed nany of our resources to become polluted ir depleted!
    we need to protect,what resources we still have, including land and water. we already have major water resources depletion. We do not require more residents …

  5. Hope you really care.. the people of Florida need it more than ever. Please help us with toxic algae. Big sugar, big oil and corrupt government is murdering the the state of Florida, it’s wildlife, the people and our pets. Help us PLEASE!!

  6. It is ridiculous to drill in the Everglades. Oil can be attained elsewhere without jeopardizing such sensitive estuaries. Please do not approve this.

  7. Please , don’t let oil be drilled in the Everglades or buildings be built or anything else to destroy the natural Everglades we need to keep the Everglades natural.

  8. I fail to understand why so many folks want to take away the right of an owner of private land to drill for oil on that land, especially since there has been drilling on private land since the late 1940’s around the Everglades with very little negative impact to the environments. If you folks that oppose anything that you do not understand should direct your opposition and wrath toward city, county and state officials that have allowed 23,000 major sewerage releases ( all Federal Crimes) in the last decade.

  9. Dep does not protect the environment. Water Management District issues unlimited permits while tasked to maintain minimum water flows. Health Department does not even test or warn people about the toxic sludge on our water. Nothing new here. I hope Nikki gets these farmers 2 start treating the crap they put into our aquifer and rivers and begins to charge them for all the water they are stealing from you and me end of rant

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