South Florida environmentalists stop oil drilling plans

Environmentalists are now checking if Texan company contaminated groundwater with hydrochloric acid

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Matt Schwartz works with South Florida Wildlands Association out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - There won't be oil drilling throughout the Western Everglades for now.

Collier Resources Company and Dan A. Hughes Company had big plans, but environmentalists put a stop to them through protests and litigation.

Matthew Schwartz, of Fort Lauderdale-based South Florida Wildlands Association, was part of the effort to stop a Texas drilling company from running two exploratory oil wells.

On Friday his Facebook post read: "Mission accomplished."

Environmentalists had been protesting that the oil drilling was a threat to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Now they were worried that a new chemical injection technique could have polluted the area's aquifers.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Preserve our Paradise were leading the effort against oil drilling.

Members of Preserve our Paradise said they were concerned about the companies' practices and their effect on groundwater. 

"Instead of using explosives to fracture the bedrock and release oil, the drillers would pump large quantities of hydrochloric acid into the wells to dissolve the bedrock," a Preserver our Paradise investigation concluded.

The companies' decision to cancel the plans followed an April settlement agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that included a $25,000 fine and requirements to monitor groundwater.

Read the Collier Resources Company July 11 letter to public officials

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