Everglades Decision Reversed, and Reversed Again — Here’s Why

Just over a month after a Florida court issued an order to allow a permit for Kanter Real Estate LLC to start drilling to explore the potential to strike oil in the Everglades, the court announced it was “in error.”

The initial order allowing the permit was a reversed decision of a lower court by the Tallahassee appeals court of the ruling that ultimately granted the Kanter Real Estate LLC to drill. This went against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s initial win, according to the report.

However, just hours after Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued a ruling that seemed to be in favor of the real estate company’s permit on Monday, March 18, 2019, it issued a statement that reversed its own ruling.

Kanter Real Estate LLC proposed a well to explore drilling for oil in the Everglades, a highly sensitive ecosystem that’s in danger of being lost with climate change.

After that initial ruling, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection filed a motion opposing it and the well with the appeals court. This is where the case gets a bit strange. The appeals court apparently can’t make up its mind.

Initially, it ruled that it would refuse to hear the case a second time on Monday. Essentially, refusing to hear the case means the court upheld the lower court’s ruling, which means Florida must issue a permit to start exploratory drilling in the Everglades.

According to the report, the appeal court’s initial ruling said:

“Motion for rehearing en banc filed by the appellee, Florida Department for Environmental Protection, on February 20, 2019, is denied.”

Then, later the same day, the same court issued an announcement that withdrew the initial ruling, saying it had made a mistake. This meant that Florida’s DEP had won.

Then, that same court issued a new ruling on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. This new ruling said that the initial decision would stand – essentially withdrawing its statement that the court issued the Monday ruling in error. The court announced in a revised opinion, that:

“…Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, abused his discretion and misinterpreted the law in overriding a lower court’s ruling approving the project.”

In a statement, Nikki Fried, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, said:

“This is infuriating. … I hope that lawmakers and the Department of Environmental Protection will consider changes to protect the Everglades – our most previous natural resource, the only wilderness of its kind on Earth – from future oil drilling and fossil fuel profiteering.”

Florida’s DEP is considering its options, but it’s a sure bet that this fight is far from over and that the Department of Environmental Protection will likely file another appeal. According to the reports, the state agency is currently examining all of its options to protect this ever changing, and ever diminishing one-of-a-kind habitat from being exploited.

Featured Image: National Park Service/Public Domain

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JC Zuzierla
 

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