Lawsuit brought against 'Glades drilling plan

Posted at 10:40 PM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 15:47:13-04

An environmental group is suing a Texas based oil company over its plans to do exploratory work in the Big Cypress Preserve.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is one of the plaintiffs.  The group says Burnett Oil Company will use "Thumper Trucks" for exploring, which will make so much noise it will harm the endangered Florida Panther, and other wildlife.

"They hit the ground hard enough to send vibrations 12,000 feet under ground," said Director of Natural Resource Policy for the Conservancy, Jennifer Hecker.

A spokesperson for Burnett, the Texas based oil company says the sound is more like a hammer hitting a nail.

He declined an interview about the lawsuit, or how the process works, but he did tell us the trucks use 3D technology to look for where to drill.

"Before they allow this to be done on 70,000 acres, they should look at doing a small test plot an acre in size," said Hecker.

Some residents say the margin of error when it comes to drilling is razor thin.

"When you hear the word Everglades, you think of estuary and backwater.  In reality, if something did happen it would be catastrophic to the entire fishery," said Naples resident Blake Brickzin.

Burnett officials say its work will be supervised by environmentalists and park officials.

But Hecker says the oil company didn't do its homework on how this work could affect the wildlife.

"Our hope is that in prevailing is that we will get the agency to give it that harder look to make sure we appropriately avoid and minimize whatever impacts will occur."

The National Park Service will decide when the exploratory work can begin.