Florida Buys Everglades Land to Prevent Oil Drilling

Florida’s governor announces plan to buy 20,000 acres to kill plan to drill for oil in the Everglades wetlands

A plan to drill an exploratory oil well in the rare Everglades wetlands habitat has generated international outrage.

After a series of court battles failed to prevent it, the state of Florida has offered to buy the 20,000 acres from the real estate developer who had planned not only to drill for oil, but to build a whole new city on the land.

The price of the land will be between $16.5 and $18 million, depending on when the deal closes.

Banker and developer Joseph Kanter bought the land 50 years ago, before there were any plans of restoring the Everglades, with the intention of building an entire town on it.

But the town was never built, and the land has remained undisturbed and natural until now, with the state allowed to use it for routing water through the Everglades.

By the time the Kanter family won approval to drill for oil, public opinion about any sort of industrial development in the Everglades had shifted.

After receiving a letter signed by 72 environmental groups and local governments, demanding that the governor step in and protect the wetlands, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a buyout agreement Wednesday.

“We will permanently save this land from oil production,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “With this acquisition, there will be nearly 600,000 acres of wetlands in Water Conservation Area Three that will be protected by public ownership for recreation and restoration.”

If the sale goes through, it will be the largest state land acquisition in a decade.

“This is an important purchase to protect the Everglades and the drinking water of millions,” said Diana Umpierre, Everglades organizer for the Sierra Club.

Even the Kanter family said it was glad to make a deal that benefited everyone.

“This is a beautiful property, with incredible natural resources, that we have owned for over 50 years,” John Kanter, president of Kanter Real Estate and Joseph Kanter’s son told Phys.org.

“We are happy that the property will be protected and remain in pristine condition for future generations.”

The Kanter project had a 23% chance of finding oil, according to courtroom testimony from a company expert. If oil were found, the company’s expert said it could be possible to extract 180,000 to 10 million barrels.