As well reported, after a four-year battle, the Kanter Real Estate investment company final won in court.
The Kanter’s land sits just west of Miramar near the Broward/Miami-Dade County line in a state conservation area above the Sunniland Trend shale deposit. The 20,000-acre piece of land has been owned by the Kanter’s for the last half-century.
Kanter’s win was not the first in the last couple of years. In 2017, Burnett Oil Company of Fort Worth, Texas won the right to start seismic testing to reveal the presence of oil under 110 square miles of Big Cypress National Preserve. The area they plan on testing is west of the Broward County line and straddles Alligator Alley.
The Burnett plan calls for heavy off-road vehicles to pound the ground with 7-inch-thick steel planks. This creates vibrations revealing the presence of geological structures that could contain oil.
After presenting their plan to the National Park Service and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both determined that the Burnett project would have little impact on protected species in the area. The species included the alligator, eastern indigo snake, red-cockaded woodpecker, wood stork, and the Florid panther.
Ultimately, Senior U. S. District Judge John E. Steele ruled, “The court has found that NPS took a ‘hard look’ at the cumulative impacts and mitigation measures and was reasonable in finding no significant impacts from the survey.”
Burnett began its search for oil in 2017 but had to stop due to of heavy rain. Speaking with the Miami New Times, one year later, Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florid Wildlands Association (SFWA.) reported that Burnett is doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. “They are supposed to say out of the areas they know will be easily damaged.” Left in the truck’s wake are gouges in the soil nearly two feet deep in some parts.” Schwartz went on to report that the soil in the Big Cypress feels like rubber mulch, “When the soil is wet you can dig it out with a plastic spoon.”
Several organizations filed a lawsuit to stop Burnett’s oil exploration. Although the judge ruled against them, the coalition did successfully lobby for stronger regulations in the state-issued permits.
Burnett is now required to restore the preserve while it does the seismic exploration. The hope is with concurrent restoration this would prevent the compacted soil from disrupting the water flow in the preserve.
In the Kanter case, the court ruled that “Florida’s former DEP secretary, Noah Valenstein, had ‘improperly’ cast facts to reach his own ‘desired outcome.’ The court further ruled that Kanter’s stretch of land was already so polluted it would not matter if an oil rig were placed there. Finally, the court suggested the area is ‘hydrologically isolated’ enough to prevent pollutants from contaminating the rest of the Everglades.”
Broward County’s chief attorney, Andrew Meyers said the county will take legal action to halt Kanter’s plan to drill for oil in the Everglades.
Photograph by Matthew Schwartz