A court battle between the Dan A. Hughes Company and a number of environmentalists in Collier County, Florida ended in disappointment for the environmentalists when the presiding judge ruled in favor of the Dan A. Hughes Company. This company, based in Texas, can now drill near the community of Golden Gates even though the people living in Golden Gates vehemently oppose any drilling near their homes. The drill site will remain untouched for the next fifteen days as parties opposed to the drilling prepare their case against it. The Florida DEP i.e. Department of Environmental Protection says that we can expect the final order on the possibility of drilling operations at this site in a month and a half.
Those in opposition to the drilling wanted the judge to take into account accusations leveled against the company but the judge refused to consider these accusations. Opponents to this drilling process expected the ruling since the accusations disregarded by the judge formed a huge part of their case against the company. More specifically, environmentalists such as Karen Dwyer of the Stone Crab Alliance feel that the judge erred in his judgment. She also feels that the Dan Hughes Company was guilty of recklessness when it came to addressing environmental issues such as the protection of the watershed for the people of Golden Gates. Other prominent leaders in the area such as Dr. Don Loritz from Preserve Our Paradise are of a similar opinion. Loritz stated that according to him, the judge made numerous errors when it came to matters of fact and interpretation.
It is important for you to note that the Dan Hughes Company had initially agreed not to drill anywhere near Golden Gates let alone the North Collier drilling site, which is fairly close to Golden Gates. The company also tested for ground water in fulfillment of its consent order. The ruling by the state judge presiding over the case breathes new life into the oil company. The company even put out a statement that sought to assure the public of its commitment to the rule of law, sound science and a careful study of environmental concerns.
Obviously residents in the Golden Gate Estates areas are concerned about this new drilling. Other residents are also curious and slightly worried about the effects they might feel. One resident of The Dunes, says she’s worried that it will effect the water (Delnor Wiggins State Park) she sees from her building.