Final Victory–and a cautionary note. Last night the Naples Daily News announced that Hughes had shut down the Orangetree neighborhood (“Collier-Hogan”) oil well. But as Jennifer Hecker of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida pointed out, this complicates the lawsuit Collier County and the Conservancy have instituted to determine if there was drinking water contamination at the Orangetree well. Perhaps more importantly, it complicates the legal discovery in that case and the Public Records Request suit that Preserve Our Paradise filed. Much still is not known about the details of the fracking operation at the well and the regulatory failures that allowed it to happen. Knowledge of these facts is critical to ensuring proper regulation of existing and future wells.
Breaking News! Friday, 11 July 2014. Collier Resources and Hughes withdraw FDEP application to drill the Golden Gate well. Here’s a copy of the Collier Resources announcement, sent to the Collier County Board of County Commissioners. We’ll continue to update everybody as details become available. In the meantime, here’s the short answer and the longer answer to Why Fracking Flopped in Florida. Thanks to all of you for all your help and encouragement through this past year!
Welcome to Preserve Our Paradise.org! Preserve Our Paradise, Inc. was formed when we learned that the Dan A. Hughes Company of Beeville, Texas had applied to drill a well that presents maximal threats to public safety and our natural environment. It is positioned to drill under the City of Naples main water wellfield, the future Collier County water wellfield area, the Florida Panther National Wildlife Preserve, and the residential suburb of Golden Gate Estates.
The Challenge. The Golden Gate well is the front line of a black tide of “unconventional fossil fuel recovery” that threatens to overrun all of South Florida and the Florida Panhandle. The Dan A. Hughes Company alone has leased 115,000 environmentally sensitive acres of Southwest Florida for exploration. There are only small amounts of fossil fuel in Florida, and with many forms of green energy available, there is simply no need to risk despoiling Florida in this way. As former Exxon executive Edward Glab has said, “The juice isn’t worth the squeeze”.
To date, we’ve fought this well to a standstill, but challenges remain. Headlines below.
Please donate, pledge, or volunteer! As we feared, the Florida Department of Environmental Protecdtion has approved this well, and we have now begun to fight this reckless oil rush in the courts. Justice will not come cheap. We need to raise $37,200 to establish our case and meet our goal for this year.
How to use this website. On this site, there are large amounts of information under the Issues tab at the top of each page. (Mobile users go to Menu.) The Issues–>Golden Gate Well subfolder contains the best introductory narrative. “Fracking Florida” addresses more diffuse statewide issues and more detailed legal issues, well-by-well. Search this site using Google. There’s a lot of information behind this page, but Google does an excellent job of indexing it. Search Preserve Our Paradise + your search terms.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014. FDEP Sec. Herschel Vinyard speaks to Collier County Commissioners. First FDEP water quality tests at Orangetree well exposed as bogus.
Tuesday, 1 July 2014. FDEP announces no contamination at the Orangetree well in a press release that includes detailed results (pdf). This was no real surprise, because the fracking at the Orangetree well occurred some 12,000 feet deep, while the USDW — the geological boundary of the Orangetree Underground Source of Drinking Water — begins about 2,200 feet deep. Since the six monitoring wells only went down thirteen feet, the testing would only have been adequate to establish that no significant surface spillage had occurred at the wellsite. However we cannot even reach this conclusion because nearly six months have passed since the fracking operation took place. We also do not know if the Hughes/FDEP conducted tested specifically for the hazardous chemicals photographically identified at the wellsite.
Friday, 27 June 2014. The FDEP and Hughes attorneys have rejected all exceptions of PoP and Schwartz to the Administrative Judge’s ruling allowing the Golden Gate oil well.. This was expected, and also, as expected, neither the FDEP nor Hughes made substantive or compelling rebuttals to the PoP/Schwartz exceptions. Both attorneys largely simply argued that by law the FDEP cannot alter its decision. The next step could be an appeal by PoP. We are reviewing our next legal steps now. The whole court saga is linked up here.
FDEP begins to “respond” to Collier County lawsuit. In a series of press releases, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has begun to “respond” to issues raised in the Collier County petition to Florida Administrative Court. Simultaneously, the FDEP is still lobbying County Commissioners to settle the suit out of court . . .Track developments at the Orangetree well at this link.
Preserve Our Paradise files exceptions to the judge’s order on the Golden Gate well. The FDEP will review and probably reject these exceptions. Then next step will be for PoP to appeal to Florida circuit court. Here’s a summary of the exceptions. The case is chronicled here with links to the Judge’s full opinion and PoP’s full filing of exceptions. (updated June 17)
Collier County Commissioners reaffirm commitment to protect citizens. In an at times passionate meeting, Collier County Commissioners gave explicit direction to the Collier County attorney to persist in the County’s determination to petition the courts to enforce meaningful regulation of oil drilling at the Orangetree oil well. Thanks to all who turned out to beat back a last-minute attempt by the FDEP to derail the regulation!
FDEP tells Collier County to Back Down on Fracked Oil Well (click for details). Outgoing FDEP Dep. Sec. Jeff Littlejohn advises Commissioner Henning to hold a “special” Board meeting with FDEP, thereby losing the County’s chance to contest the FDEP’s consent order and protect the public. Read our letter to the Board. Attend the Collier County Commissioners’ Meeting on June 10th!!! (updated 6-8-2014)
Judge Alexander Rules against Paradise. Recommends Golden Gate Exploratory permit be granted “without further modifications.” Here’s the latest news. (updated 6-4-2014)
Waiting for Judge Alexander’s Order. PoP’s attorney, Ralf Brookes has filed his “Preliminary Recommended Order (pdf)”. It’s a terrific summary and a must-read, all 50 plus pages of it. Now we wait and prepare for the likely need to appeal.
FDEP Rejects Recommendation of the Big Cypress Advisory Committee. As we had anticipated, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has notified Judge Alexander and the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings that it intends to ignore the recommendations of the Big Cypress Swamp Advisory Committee to deny the Golden Gate oil well permit. Details here.