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More Broward Cities Come Out Against Oil Drilling in Everglades

The South Florida Wildlands Association says that 20 Broward County municipalities have passed resolutions that oppose Kanter Realty's application to drill for oil in the Everglades. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, meanwhile, has requested more information from Kanter before the DEP can "fully consider whether the applicant’s proposal conforms to the requirements of Florida law."

Back in July, Kanter filed an application with DEP to begin drilling in the Everglades of Broward County. The Miami-based company's application was specifically for a state permit to drill an exploratory well just west of Miramar. On July 15, Miramar commissioners met to officially oppose Kanter's drilling prospects.

City leaders from Sunrise, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale Beach, Plantation, Tamarac, Weston, and Wilton Manors have all spoken against Kanter's desire to drill in the area and have publicly shown their support for the City of Miramar.

In August, Broward commissioners voted unanimously to challenge state law in order to get an amendment pushed that would allow the county to decide whether to allow Kanter to drill in the wetland area. 

Since then, Coconut Creek, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Tamarac, Coral Springs, Parkland, Lauderhill, Hallandale Beach, Plantation, Weston and Wilton Manors all passed resolutions against Kantor's application.

Kanter's plan is to drill about 12,000 feet down to draw crude oil from an area known as the Sunniland Trench, which stretches across South Florida wetlands into the Gulf of Mexico. Kanter owns 20,000 acres of wetlands in the area and has applied to drill there.

The SFWA's concern has been that drilling in this area would be a serious risk for the Biscayne Aquifer, which is the sole drinking-water source for thousands of Broward and Miami-Dade residents.

"The risks are tremendous," SFWA's executive director, Matthew Schwartz, says. "First of all, you're putting a drill pad on top of wetlands in the Everglades. Any spill whatsoever goes into the water's conservation areas, into canals that drain directly down into Everglades National Park. But I think the thing most people in Broward County are really concerned about is that they're drilling right into the Biscayne Aquifer."

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The SFWA says that Broward County officials have determined that Kanter's application will require both land-use and zoning changes in the unincorporated section of the Everglades where the drilling would take place. So far, those applications have yet to be sent to the county. 

Other cities and municipalities are expected to take up the issue in the coming weeks. Oakland Park will discuss the matter on September 23, while the issue will be brought before Fort Lauderdale's City Sustainability Advisory Board on September 28.

Lauderdale Lakes, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, North Lauderdale, Pembroke Park, Lazy Lake, Sea Ranch Lakes, and Parkland have yet to schedule any meetings to discuss the issue, and the SFWA is urging residents in those areas to get in touch with local officials to do so.

"We are hoping that Kanter Realty realizes at this point how steep a hill they would have to climb to begin oil-drilling operations inside the Broward Everglades — and within the boundaries of the Biscayne Aquifer — the sole source of drinking water for all of Broward, Miami-Dade, and the southern end of Palm Beach County," SFWA says on its Facebook page. "And of course inside the habitat and ecosystem of the Everglades itself. However, if this application is pursued, SFWA and our many allies will be prepared to respond."

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