Dear Editor,

Florida's Gulf Coast is no stranger to oil industry mishaps. So, when an exploratory well application, dated the early part of July 2019, is submitted to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requesting to drill into our local watershed, alarm bells ring.

At Bear Creek well No. 1393, Spooner Petroleum seeks permission to drill into Gulf County's Wetappo Creek watershed basin. The location that National Hydrologic Data (NHD) indicates is within one mile of perennial streams.

According to the Apalachicola River Keeper, who submitted opposition comments to the DEP on several drilling pads between the Apalachicola River and Dead Lakes (exploratory well application numbers 1374-1379), "The development of oil and gas in this area threatens the basic quality of life due to the high risk of pollution of the surface and groundwater, subsidence of coastal plain, air quality, and community character...Exploratory wells bring the risk of releasing harmful chemicals into the wetlands and rivers. A period of heavy rain could be disastrous if it carries toxins into the river system."

Ecologically diverse, North Florida, and in particular the Apalachicola River basin, is home to around 40 amphibian and 80 reptile species, about 1,300 species of plants and including over 100 of which are threatened or endangered. Drilling down 12,900 feet, through the Floridan aquifer, could contaminate Florida's watershed and pollute our drinking water with toxins. Those toxins could then flow into the Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, possibly affecting all life it touches.

Besides the potential ecological ramifications of a mishap, of great concern is the potential for harm to residents and our tourism industry. When it comes to future health, wellbeing, and livelihood of our citizens, the cost of admission is steep and the potential risks far outweigh any capitalistic benefit. Public comments can be directed to local officials and the DEP.

Respectfully,

Clyde Leonard

Vice Chair, Gulf County Democratic Executive Committee