NAPLES — A committee charged with providing advice and ensuring compliance for drilling in the Big Cypress Swamp area has recommended denying a permit for a Texas company that wants to drill an exploratory oil well in southwest Florida.
The Big Cypress Swamp Advisory committee’s decision Monday is nonbinding but it cheered opponents of drilling in eastern Collier County. The committee is an arm of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.
In its recommendation to deny the Dan A. Hughes Co. a drilling permit, the committee cited concerns about traffic, disaster response and environmental effects.
The DEP initially approved the oil well in September. The committee’s recommendations now go to state administrative judge D. R. Alexander, who is reviewing a permit challenge to the well. Once Alexander makes his own recommendations later this spring, the state will have less than two months to decide whether to issue the permit.
After a daylong hearing, the committee voted 4-1 against the permit. The dissenting vote came from David Mica, executive director of The Florida Petroleum Council. The five-member panel also includes a DEP scientist and environmental experts.
The proposed site for the oil well is east of Naples, near the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.