For Immediate Release
September 25, 2017
Dan Tonsmeire, Apalachicola Riverkeeper
Environmental groups oppose new county and state permits for drilling in Calhoun County
Apalachicola, FL – Florida environmentalists are weighing in on a proposal to drill for oil in Florida’s Apalachicola Basin. The application by Spooner Petroleum of Ridgeland Mississippi, seeks approval to drill a 12,900-foot exploratory oil well in southern Calhoun County. The company has leased over 10,000 acres of mineral rights from the Hunt Oil Company in Calhoun and Gulf Counties for exploration and possible oil development.
Two key decisions by local and state governments are coming up. On Tuesday, September 26th, Calhoun County will hold a public hearing to consider a land-use change that would allow the drilling to go forward. The hearing begins at 5 P.M. at the Calhoun County Courthouse, 20816 Central Avenue E, Blountstown, Florida.
Spooner’s drilling permit application is also currently under consideration by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil and Gas Program in Tallahassee.
According to Apalachicola Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire, “The people of Calhoun County and throughout the basin are taking all the risk. Only a few besides the oil company will see any real benefit. An oil or chemical spill, equipment failure or accident could easily damage wetlands and other unique habitats and/or endanger the drinking water supply for Calhoun County and beyond to those downstream of the well.”
Matthew Godwin, owner of Off the Map Expeditions, an eco-tour company in Wewahitchka, shared his reluctance to see “development of this type coming so near the Dead Lakes.”
“The Apalachicola River and Bay is already being choked to death by the overuse of water upstream,” Godwin said. “Oil drilling in this low-lying coastal plain is a step too far. It just isn’t worth the risk.”
Other groups voiced their concerns about the possibility that this well could lead to fracking in the area – a distinct possibility since Florida laws allow for fracking and the terms of Spooner’s lease covers “workover operations” which include the hydraulic fracturing of a well to increase yield.
Doug Miller, Statewide Coordinator of Floridians Against Fracking, noted that citizens of Calhoun County had reached out to his group for support on this proposed land-use change because of their concerns that drilling this well could lead to fracking in their county. According to Miller, “studies have shown how dangerous fracking can be to air and water quality. We are standing by the citizens of Calhoun County as they fight for the health of their community and, by extension, the people of Florida.”
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director of South Florida Wildlands Association voiced his organization’s concerns about habitat, wildlife, and “Outstanding Florida Waters” near this well. “We’ve been opposing the expansion of oil drilling in the Greater Everglades for years. When we learned of this project from our colleagues in the Panhandle, we were immediately concerned about the impacts even routine spills could have on the pristine wetlands which surround this drill-site in all directions – as well as the many species of federally and state-listed wildlife those wetlands and downstream waters may contain.”
Tonsmeire encouraged members of the public to get involved, learn about the proposal, and register their concerns with the appropriate governmental agencies.
“I urge the citizens of Calhoun County to attend the upcoming public hearing and make sure they understand what’s on the table and what’s at stake,” Tonsmeire said. “My hope is that they and everyone who cares about the Apalachicola River, Bay and Floodplain will let the Florida DEP know why oil drilling in the basin is a bad bet.”
Spooner Application for Drilling Permit:
Apalachicola Riverkeeper Public Comments:
Notice of Calhoun County Public Hearing: