BP continues to settle with the US government, injured families and broken businesses that continue to suffer from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, a result of greed, disregard for human and animal life, and lack of government oversight.  Meanwhile the Mississippi River is closed for the 3rd day after a barge accident spilled 80,000 gallons of crude into the river.

These are just two immediate news stories that serve as reminders of the true cost of oil-drilling – a dirty and dangerous business.  Yet, Florida state representative Doug Broxson wants to subject one of the most beautiful, rare and pristine state forests in all of Florida to the ravages of this industry.  Blackwater State Forest and the river system and estuary that it feeds are jewels in Florida’s treasure chest of riches.  People travel far and wide to enjoy the Blackwater River.  On a hot summer day, being submerged in the tea colored water with the white sandy bottom is like dying and going to heaven.  Mr. Broxson grew up in Milton where the Blackwater eventually passes through on its way to the bay and then to the Gulf of Mexico.  Surely during his 64 years he swam, boated, fished on the Blackwater.  How do you convince yourself that a Florida Outstanding Water in your own hometown should be sacrificed for a short term financial gain for some oil company from Texas?  That’s puzzling!

An article was published online in the Independent News today which reads:

Fairways Exploration has dispatched lobbyist Dale Patchett—a former state representative and former deputy director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection—to push the pair of bills in Tallahassee. The company’s good to go as soon as their man gets it straight on the books.

Truth is, the company is already in Blackwater.

“Fairways Exploration has already done some seismic work in Blackwater,” Evers said, explaining that the company needed to come across the state line into Blackwater—“couple of miles or something, I don’t know”—in order to get accurate seismic data in relation to neighboring Conecuh.

In mid-December, local hunters could be found sulking online on the Pensacola Fishing Forum.

“In BW where I hunt they have cleared so much land and cut down a lot of old trees to get in there and test the area,” wrote Deersniper270. “I haven’t ever seen so much orange.”

Dale Patchett huh?  Well, he has his own sordid history in Florida politics that we’ll talk about later.  This issue is heating up fast and every man,woman and child who cares about the Blackwater forest, river and bay needs to get very vocal, very quickly.  Start with Broxson and remind him often how much you don’t like this idea.


About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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