Fracking Litigation Comes To Florida

Environmental groups recently filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, seeking to challenge the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and others, with respect to the recent approval of seismic testing.  Seismic testing is utilized  to identify oil and gas.  Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the testing threatens the Big Cypress national preserve:

 “Big Cypress is an extraordinary and unique national treasure. It is an extension of the Everglades hydrologic system and provides nearly half of the water flowing into Everglades National Park. Water flows across the surface of the Preserve in marshes and sloughs and below the surface of the Preserve through porous aquifers. Big Cypress serves as a significant recharge area to aquifers, including portions of the Biscayne Aquifer, which provides most of the fresh water for public water supply and agriculture in southeast Florida. The Preserve is home to many rare and protected species of plants and animals, including the critically endangered Florida panther. Beloved for its many outdoor recreation opportunities, Big Cypress hosted almost 1.2 million visitors in 2015.”

They allege, among other things, that testing will cause damage to the preserve.  However, according to at least one report, the Florida DEP indicates that there are no current plans to frac in the area.  Also, Burnett Oil Co.’s president reportedly indicated that, at this juncture, no drilling is planned and, as for the testing:

“Our Vibroseis technology generates sound waves from sources that are sent into the earth and recorded with geophonesThe buggies we use are not thumper trucks which pound the earth — our technology sends sound waves into the ground for about 3o to 60 seconds allowing us to capture images from below the surface, similar to an ultrasound. Our buggies use balloon tires that are specifically designed to leave root systems of grass intact in the preserve.”

The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.  A copy of the complaint can be found here.

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