DEP Blasts Oil Company In Press Release Demanding Action In Collier County

Jul 7, 2014

This undated aerial photo is of the Dan A. Hughes well located near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida.
Credit Sierra Club Florida

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a list of demands for the company at the center of a Southwest Florida fight over oil exploration. 

The Dan A. Hughes Company angered state environmental regulators back in December when it went ahead with a process similar to fracking at a well site in Collier County. The state didn’t disclose the incident until April, causing an uproar in the Naples area.

Now, in a series of press releases, DEP demands the Company hold three public meetings, allow public access to its site, testify before the Collier County Commission and explain how it disposed of and treated water used during the December incident. Dan A. Hughes Company spokesman David Blackmon says the company is in the process of complying with most of DEP’s demands. However, “For a regulator to issue a press release like that with no prior notice to the regulated company before the company receives the letter—as you all know there are a lot of advanced, technological ways to get a letter to a recipient before a press release goes out—it’s quite extraordinary."

In it's letter to the company, DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard says, "For some time we have worked with you to operate transparently by asking you to share information and meet with families in Collier County; however, Dan A. Hughes has moved slowly on these requests and your inaction is unacceptable".

Blackmon admits the company delayed in responding to DEP because of the controversy generated around its well. The company had already planned a public tour of its site on the 15th—the same day DEP is demanding a response and Blackmon says public meetings are in the works.  A DEP official says the agency will decide by the 18th whether to grant the Dan A. Hughes company final approval to drill another exploratory well in Collier County that would be located near a neighborhood.