During her stint in Florida this weekend, would-be GOP presidential nominee Michele Bachmann said that she would consider drilling in the Florida Everglades, so long as it doesn’t hurt the environment. But representatives for the Everglades Foundation say that such claims are not even viable, and will likely prove to be a “swing and a miss” for the Minnesota congresswoman.
“The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that’s in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is,” she said during a stop in Sarasota, according to the Associated Press. “Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can’t responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn’t do it.”
Jerry Karnas, communications director for the Everglades Foundation, says that drilling in the Everglades wouldn’t even be economically viable, as there really isn’t oil within Everglades proper and the little oil available in surrounding areas is of a very low quality.
“As time has worn on, the Everglades has begun to encompass other areas, including Big Cypress Preserve,” says Karnas. “In 1972, there were some historic mineral rights retained by the Barron Collier family, and today, it is nothing more than a very, very small operation where the company drills for meager amounts of oil that are of a very low quality.”
Overall, says Karnas, the minute amount of drilling near the Everglades is a “historic anomaly” and a “remnant of the past.”
“There’s no way that it would work, under current law,” he says. “There’s no path to drilling more in any of these areas, and no way you’ll drill in the Everglades. It’s not a serious policy proposal.” Karnas says that Bachmann was likely trying to pander to a crowd that has come to associate the Environmental Protection Agency with killing jobs, a claim often made by many in the GOP. During a recent stop in Jacksonville, Bachmann promised to “turn out the lights and lock the doors” at the EPA, should she be elected.
Unfortunately for Bachman, there is no real push to drill in the Everglades.
“It’s the same thing as saying, ‘Let’s drill under Space Mountain, in Disney World,’” Karnas says. “She’s conflating things.”
Everglades Foundation CEO Kirk Fordham says that thousands of hunters and fishermen, as well as 7 million Floridians that rely on the Everglades as a source of drinking water, likely wouldn’t be too excited at the prospect of drilling in the area.
“NRA card-carrying hunters, fishermen, waterfowlers and other outdoors enthusiasts do not want to see oil drilling in their Everglades wildlife paradise,” says Fordham. “In addition, the Everglades is the source of fresh, clean, drinking water for more than 7 million Floridians. Congresswoman Bachmann needs to understand that oil and drinking water do not mix.”