(CNN) – Florida has signed a contract with a real estate company to purchase 20,000 acres of Everglades intended for oil production to protect wetlands, Florida’s governor said on Wednesday.
Republican Ron DeSantis called it the largest wetland takeover in a decade and said the purchase would permanently protect those areas from oil drilling.
The upcoming property purchase was made in accordance with Kanter Real Estate, which has owned property in the heart of Everglades Water Conservation Area 3 in Broward County for over 50 years.
According to the Miami Herald, a Florida Court of Appeals overturned a decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in February to deny the Kanter family permission to drill in their country.
John Kanter, president of Kanter Real Estate, told the Herald at the time that “our focus has always been to carry out this project in a way that is very environmentally friendly”.
“We are pleased that the property is protected and will remain in good condition for many years to come,” Kanter said in a statement emailed to CNN. “All parties on both sides negotiated in good faith to find common interests and commonalities.”
Kanter applauded DeSantis, saying that the governor “stepped in and really took a leadership role and created a situation where there is a win-win for everyone.”
At a press conference in Fort Lauderdale, on the edge of the Everglades, DeSantis said Wednesday that the Kanter family had a legal right to drill in the country, so his government had to make a deal. The governor said the state hopes the deal will be completed quickly.
According to Noah Valenstein, head of the Florida Department of the Environment, the state has entered into an option agreement to purchase the property for $ 16.5 million, which could be up to $ 18 million.
“This was something that we contested in court and the court simply disagreed with our administration and allowed the oil permit to move forward,” Valenstein said at the press conference on Wednesday.
Public property will also protect more than 60 endangered and threatened species.
The governor’s actions were welcomed by environmental groups who opposed Kanter’s drill plans. The Sierra Club called it “an important purchase to protect the Everglades and the drinking water of millions of people.”
DeSantis has made rapid restoration of the Everglades an environmental priority for its administration. In one of his first executive orders in 2019, $ 2.5 billion was earmarked for the restoration and protection of Florida’s water resources in Everglades over the next four years.
Although Republican officials are generally more favorable to oil and gas interests than Democrats, the GOP is Coastal governors have opposed some efforts to open offshore drilling to address environmental concerns. In 2018, the Trump administration announced that it would exempt Florida from offshore drilling because it approved the opposition of then-Republican governor Rick Scott.
Companies have been more successful in granting permits for onshore drilling in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported late last year.
The-CNN-Wire ™ and © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner company. All rights reserved.