Florida rejects oil drilling proposal in Big Cypress Swamp

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Oil rig. By Alexey Zakirov via Getty Images for WMNF News.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday agreed with an administrative law judge and issued a final order rejecting a proposal to drill an exploratory oil well in Collier County.

Judge Francine Ffolkes, in a recommended order in March, said Trend Exploration, LLC, had not shown a likelihood of finding oil in an area of the Big Cypress Swamp.

Ffolkes wrote that other drilling projects near the proposed site had failed.

“The preponderance of the evidence in this case establishes there is no proven or indicated likelihood of the presence of oil on a commercially profitable basis,” the recommended order said. “The greater weight of the evidence warrants against the exploration and extraction of oil in this case.”

Trend Exploration applied for a drilling permit in March 2021, but the Department of Environmental Protection denied the proposal in November 2021.

The issue then went to the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

Under administrative law, Ffolkes’ recommended order had to go back to the department for a final decision.

Thursday’s order, signed by Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton, approved the judge’s recommendation “in its entirety.”

If Trend Exploration wants to continue pursuing the permit, it could take the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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