Protesters fight to stop oil drilling plans in Florida Everglades

WEST BROWARD, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Everglades consist of 1.5 million acres of federally protected wetlands and is home to endangered species.

However, if one company gets its way, the protected wetlands will also be home to a future oil-drilling site.

Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency said no to drilling in the Everglades, but thanks to the passing of Amendment 6, that ruling has been overturned.

Amendment 6 expanded victim’s rights, but it also allowed courts to change previously settled government decisions.

The decision to not drill in the Everglades was then overturned.

Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr opposes the drilling, and he is part of a group trying to stop the proposed drilling.

“I don’t think that’s what they were expecting, and I think they’d be disappointed that it’s being used in this manner,” Furr said.

The main concern environmentalists have is safety.

The Biscayne Aquifer sits just below the surface in the Everglades, and that’s the largest source of drinking water for South Floridians, about 8 million people.

“That’s a pretty big compromise,” Furr said, “one that I’m not willing to take, and I don’t think I know anyone who’s willing to make that compromise.”

Kat Brit is a third-generation Floridian, and she’s seen the Everglades thrive and struggle.

”I just don’t think the Everglades can take any more hits,” Brit said.

7News reached out to Kanter Investments, Inc., the company who plans to drill in the Everglades.

John E. Kanter, the company president, said in a statement, “We are both gratified and humbled that the First District Ruling came out as it did. We have assembled our team of experts, and are consulting with family, advisors, and counsel regarding next steps.”

It’s what those next steps might be that makes people nervous.

“Let’s say there’s a break. Let’s say there’s an oil spill. That’s gonna be a catastrophe. Big time,” Brit said.

Having lost in the courtroom, the group hopes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis steps in and stops the drilling.

Geologist Diana Umpierre said, “He wants to be known as somebody who protects the environment, protects the Everglades. We want him to support us in this fight.”

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