Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Collier Commissioners Stay the Course, While DEP Condemns Them

Collier County Commissioners decided Tuesday, June 10th, to stay the course and uphold their decision to file a petition against the consent order between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Dan A. Hughes Company.

Dan A. Hughes is the applicant for exploratory drilling in Golden Gate Estates - 1,000 feet from residences and less than one mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. They are also the company involved in using illegal fracking techniques at the Collier-Hogan well, within the Big Cypress Swamp Watershed.

The Collier Commissioners voted in April to challenge the $25,000 settlement between Dan A. Hughes and the DEP regarding the illegal extraction techniques at the Collier-Hogan well. DEP's settlement also called for groundwater testing, but it should be noted that testing has still not been conducted in the six months since the original infraction.
Commissioner Hiller discussing well testing for local residents

Commissioner Coyle said, "We've never had a drilling representative at any of our meetings to answer questions in public... DEP should be here [to discuss] the lax enforcement of the permit." Attempts between the Collier Commissioners and DEP to meet to discuss the administrative challenge disintegrated when DEP refused to meet in a public forum. Commissioner Hiller recommended to "deny the permit because DEP doesn't have the oversight for fracking and hasn't done their duty of protection."

During the public comment period of yesterdays meeting, the DEP issued a press release denouncing the Commissioners' decision to challenge enforcement. Titled, "Commissioners Thwart Enforcement Against Dan A. Hughes Oil," the DEP called the decision "unfortunate" and "urge[d] the Commission to reconsider its decision." Rather than having the desired bullying effect, the Commissioners considered the DEP's statements a direct threat, and rallied again to hold fast to their decision against the DEP and Dan A. Hughes.

Numerous environmental groups attended the hearing, including the Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Stonecrab Alliance, Preserve our Paradise, and others, some coming from as far away as Orlando to show their support for the Commissioners' decision.

The Collier Commissioners listened to concerned citizens and made the right decision. We thank them for staying the course and filing the petition against the consent order. Please send them an e-mail thanking them for representing the voice of Collier County:, ,,,

The Collier-Hogan well, where illegal extraction techniques took place in 2013. (c) Karen Dwyer