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Debate Over Oil Drilling Expansion in Florida Intensifies

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Oil drilling in Florida has been around since 1943 when it was discovered in Southwest Florida. 81 years later, more than 120 million barrels of oil have been produced from onshore commercial oil fields from Miami to Fort Myers.

Now, companies looking to expand to other parts of the state will be embroiled in legal battles. A Louisiana-based company wants the state government to approve plans to drill in an unincorporated area of Calhoun County in Northwest Florida.

In April of this year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) gave the green light to the company to drill an exploratory well in Calhoun County.

According to 2022 census figures, Calhoun County has a population of just 14,000. Supporters of oil drilling say it would bring jobs to the local community, but opponents fear it would hurt the Apalachicola River.

The environmental group Apalachicola Riverkeeper is challenging the FDEP’s approval. The group says a drilling site could negatively impact sensitive environmental areas, including the Apalachicola River, which has been a tourist destination for Floridians.

Oil and Gas companies point out that drilling for oil in Northwest Florida isn’t new. Santa Rosa County has been doing it since the 30’s and 40’s.

In South Florida, some small parts of the Everglades have been yes for oil drilling and over the years some state lawmakers have supported expanding oil exploration in Everglades National Park. But those proposal were show down.

Groups like the Everglades Foundation say drilling for oil in the Everglades is not worth the risk with the restoration plans moving forward by Gov. DeSantis to restore the water supply system which benefits millions in south Florida.

The Apalachicola Riverkeeper says if oil proponents get their way and an accident were to occur, the likelihood of pollution being carried away to other areas would negatively affect the environment.

Oil companies counter those claims by saying safety measures over the years have helped prevent fewer oil spills and thus having an negative effect on the local environment.


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Ed Dean is a leading radio and news media personality including hosting the #1 statewide radio talk show in Florida. Contact

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