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Florida's high court asked to reject Everglades oil drilling plan

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Opponents of an oil drilling proposal for the Everglades have taken their case to the Florida Supreme Court, asking for a review of a lower court's order that the state issue a permit for the controversial project.

Broward County and the city of Miramar filed papers asking the court to review a decision by the First District Court of Appeal telling the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to issue a drilling permit to Kanter Real Estate LLC.

The company, which represents the family of banker and developer Joseph Kanter, proposes to drill an exploratory well in the Everglades of western Broward County about five miles west of U.S. 27 and 10 miles south of Alligator Alley, nearest to the city of Miramar.

The basis of the request for review is unclear. A short document submitted by the county and Miramar says the lower court's ruling "expressly construes a provision of the state constitution and expressly and directly conflicts with a decision of another district court of appeal or of the Supreme Court on the same question of law."

The proposal sparked intense opposition among environmentalists and local governments. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection denied the permit. But a state administrative judge ordered the permit to be issued, finding that the land in question was already degraded and that the project would not pose a threat to water quality.

 

During the administrative hearing, the company's expert testified that there was a 23 percent chance of finding oil, considered high by industry standards, and if oil were found, it could be possible to extract 180,000 to 10 million barrels.

The company defeated an appeal to the First District Court of Appeal. Now the county and Miramar have asked the state Supreme Court to step in. That court has the option of taking the case or not.

--Sun Sentinel

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