Tallahassee, FL -- Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the South Florida Water Management District will pay between 16.5 and 18 million dollars for a piece of Everglades land that would otherwise be subject to oil drilling. While this move may halt the impending permit for Everglades fossil fuel extraction in the short-term, the decision shows that the only way to protect Florida communities from oil exploration in the long run is to ban fracking and drilling altogether.
A public purchase transfers the burden of protecting South Florida’s water to taxpayers, who will be the ones funding the purchase, when the Governor and Florida legislature could pass bans on drilling and fracking cost-free. Governor DeSantis promised on his campaign trail that he would work with the legislature to ban fracking beginning his first day in office. This short-sighted move is no alternative to thorough policy that would protect waterways and public health in a lasting and meaningful way. After all, it’s not just the Everglades where corporations want to drill. Fossil fuel companies are actively pursuing oil exploration in areas of the Panhandle and Southwest Florida too.
In a statement, Food & Water Action Florida Organizer Brooke Errett says the following:
“We are hopeful that the governor’s move to purchase land in the Everglades signals a willingness to protect millions of Floridians vulnerable to the dangers of oil drilling and fracking. The land purchase from Kanter Real Estate, while a commendable move to conserve the Everglades, still does not address the much larger issue of fossil fuel extraction in Florida. The state can’t go around purchasing every piece of land when a drilling permit is issued by state agencies. We need proactive solutions rather than reactive ones.
“We’re going into our second year of actively pushing Governor DeSantis to keep his word and enstate a fracking ban, but so far we have only gotten a work-around option that protects a small part of Florida, and then only in the short term. Florida’s precious resources need protection through sweeping, permanent statewide bans -- it’s the only way we can be sure we’re not weeks or months away from the next big oil spill or water contamination disaster. We deserve real action. We deserve a fracking ban.”