State Senator Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee
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Simon blasts potential drilling in Dead Lakes area

State Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee) has come out strongly against potential drilling in the Apalachicola River floodplain.

“It is unconscionable that efforts to drill for oil are happening at the same time that we are fighting for the revitalization of the Apalachicola Bay,” he wrote in an April 30 statement. “The $25 million we’re trying to fund would allow DEP to enter into financial assistance agreements with the City of Apalachicola to implement projects that improve surface water and groundwater quality within the Apalachicola Bay Area of Critical State Concern, important legislation that I fought for passed.

“We cannot allow the actions of one irresponsible body to impact the limited precious natural resources that belong to the entire region,” Simon wrote.

The state senator, who has a Democratic opponent, Daryl Parks, in his bid for a second term overseeing a district that encompasses both Franklin and Gulf counties, spoke in response to an April 26 decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

On that day, they issued a notice of intent to grant a permit to Clearwater Land & Minerals, a Louisiana company, to explore for oil by drilling in the Apalachicola River floodplain, between the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers and Dead Lakes.  Cholla Petroleum, another oil company, was granted permission to drill there in 2019, but never did.

State Rep. Jason Shoaf (R-Port St. Joe) told the Tallahassee Democrat that he had been in contact with regulators at DEP. “I am reviewing their analysis to ensure that our laws, rules, and processes in place are strictly adhered to for the protection of our environment and safety of Florida families,” he said. “It may be necessary to pursue additional policy enhancements that ensure our beloved bay and springs remain safe and protected in perpetuity.

Shoaf told the newspaper he intends to meet with “stakeholders to see what changes need to be made to protect the bay…. I would adamantly oppose any exploration that would harm the region’s ecosystem.”

The Franklin County commission has voted unanimously to issue a statement opposed to the drilling. The Gulf County commission has not taken a position on it; County Administrator Michael Hammond plans to report on the matter at the May 28 meeting.

The Calhoun County commission has endorsed it. The Apalachicola Riverkeeper, which opposes the project, plans to address the Calhoun commissioners on the matter this week.

“It has been drilled before in these same areas, they’re using the same sites, but they’ve come up dry before,” Franklin County Commissioner Ricky Jones told the newspaper. “Their whole thing is if they’ve been dry before, why would they have oil now?

“Oysters not only are part of the economy and heritage of Franklin County, but they’re also, the job that the oysters have is they help keep the water clean. They are a water filter. It’s hard to know for sure that nothing bad is going to happen,” Jones said.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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