Category Archives: Florida

Wildcat Wells in Florida’s Big Cypress Preserve Bring New and Unstudied Risks (Earth Island Journal)


Regulatory agencies aren’t carefully assessing the impact of ramped up oil and gas exploration in southwest Florida, say critics

When you think of oil drilling, South Florida probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. But rising oil prices are bringing increasing oil and gas exploration projects to southwest Florida, home of the Everglades, and they are already putting environment at risk.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently slapped a $25,000 fine on the Texas-based Dan A. Hughes Company for injecting unapproved acid into Florida’s vulnerable underground limestone formations in the middle of Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a major nesting site for wood storks. Yet the DEP recently approved another request by Dan Hughes to drill near another protected areas — the Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge — despite vehement opposition from residents and environmental groups.

Big Cypress National PerservePhoto by Marcel Hujser

Of all the new drilling proposals, the one seeking to drill the federally protected Big Cypress Natioanl Perserve has created the most furor.

Though oil drilling seems at odds with South Florida, which is known for its wildlife parks and agricultural reserves, fact is, drilling has been going on in this region ever since Humble Oil bored its first well in Collier County in 1943. The US Geological Survey’s most recent estimates show that there are about 370 million barrels of undiscovered oil in South Florida. Energy companies are eager to get that oil out of the ground.

Most of the recent drilling applications have been for exploratory wells — “wildcats” in industry parlance. First, companies drill an exploratory well to see if there’s any oil. If there isn’t, they plug it up and move on. If there is, they drill another well to inject the wastewater, called brine, into the ground.

These injection wells are the main threats to the environment. From Ohio to Texas, they have a record of leaking. The US Environmental Protection Agency notes that brine from oil and gas extraction may contain “toxic metals and radioactive substances” and “can be very damaging to the environment and public health if it is discharged to surface water or the land surface.”

But Florida’s permeable geologic formations present new and unstudied risks as well. Because of the porous limestone that makes up the southwest Florida’s bedrock, it’s possible that the wastewater could migrate upward into the groundwater that millions of Floridians drink.

Given these concerns, you might assume the EPA and DEP would carefully study the environmental impacts before issuing a permits for such wells — especially in environmentally sensitive areas. But this is Florida (cue the chirping cicadas), where it seems, anything goes. . The Big Cypress National Preserve, incidentally, is already home to 11 wells.   More at Earth Island Journal >


Port Mayaca, Florida

Port Mayaca, Florida

On the St. Lucie River, just outside the entrance to Lake Okeechobee. We anchored here for a night and saw at least eight alligators swim past our boat.

‘The Trouble with Girls All-Female Art Revue’ THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 28!

Placida at loom

Plácida at her loom, weaving a manta — a cloth for carrying babies and other fun uses. This was in Patacancha, Peru, a village near the town of Ollantaytambo. The women there have a weaving cooperative to sell their crafts in collaboration with an NGO called Awamaki.
Pre-Easter parade, Cusco

Dancer, pre-Easter parade, Cuzco.
A linda, Olinda

A linda (the pretty girl), Olinda. When I went to set up at the gallery today, another artist asked, “That hat, is that a surgery thing?” No — it’s a hairnet. This girl was working at her grandmother’s tapioca stand in Olinda, Brazil, and mugging for the camera.

Framed prints of these photos will be available for sale at The Trouble with Girls All-Female Art Revue this Saturday, April 28, from 7pm to midnight at The Bubble, 810 NE 4th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. I’m going out of town and won’t be there, but if you’re in South Florida, come out for what looks to be an amazing show! Besides the awesome ladies showcasing their art, you’ve got:

  • Live music by Haochi Waves and Dooms De Pop!
  • Fun Burlesque acts by Aurora Natrix and Sofia Luna
  • Yumminess by Ms Cheezious Food Truck
  • Good-mood tunes by DJ Cobra
  • Hydration provided by PBR & Redbull

… With all that, how can you go wrong? Come out Saturday! 7 to midnight!

Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico Oil Exploration Makes Strange Bedfellows

US Enviro Groups and Oil Execs Band Together to Promote End of Cold War-Era Hostilities Between Two Nations


From his hotel in Havana, marine scientist and conservation policy specialist David Guggenheim, aka the “Ocean Doctor,” can see the lights of Scarabeo 9. The recently arrived oil-drilling platform off the Cubancoast began drilling exploratory deepwater wells on the Cuban side of the Florida Straits, about 70 miles from Key West, last month.

The 53,000-ton rig is, literally, under more pressure than Deepwater Horizon. Operated by Spanish company Repsol, it’s what’s known as an “ultra-deepwater” platform, drilling at depths up to 6,000 feet. (Deepwater Horizon’s depth was 5,000 feet.) A Scarabeo 9 spill would damage critical marine ecosystems in the Gulf.  US environmentalists and policymakers are concerned that Cuba doesn’t have the resources, technology, or expertise needed to prevent or respond to such a disaster.

But even the threat of irreparable environmental damage hasn’t been enough to clear away old Cold War resentments and political inertia between the two countries and get them working together to formulate an emergency response plan. Which is why an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, oil executives, and scientists — like Guggenheim — are joining forces to try to, in his words, “fight half a century of an illogical policy with logic.”

More at Earth Island Journal >

“I was thinking today, ‘I should probably get some new shoes.'”


-My dad, who stepped in some solvent a few months ago at the warehouse but has been doggedly wearing these ever since.

So you see, I come by this bedraggled state honestly.

Really, the only way I can even appear in public is thanks to my sister, who fortunately takes after my mom in having excellent fashion sense and the additional valuable-to-me habit of jetting off to some distant locale to work in the mud with horses, leaving a closet full of threads at home for me to raid.

Thanks sis.


Gingrich calls Obama ‘Food Stamp President’ at South Florida stop

After three hours of waiting in the sun, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich were relieved to hear the piped-in sound of swelling strings, signalling something was finally about to happen.

Then the music stopped, and still no Newt.

“I was expecting him to rise up!” says one man.

“Yeah, pop out of a cake or somethin’!” a woman says.

The strings began again, and this time a giant Gingrich visage slowly rolls into view. His bus has arrived.

Gingrich begins with comments on last night’s State of the Union address by President Obama. He says the president wants to double capital gains tax, which would “kill job creation in the United States.”

One woman shouts at him about Freddie Mac. According to an agreement released to the media last night, Gingrich began receiving payments from the mortgage giant in 1999 under a contract that paid his consulting business $25,000 a month to work with Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist.

Gingrich responded, “The only record of my talking to Congress about Freddie Mac — you can look it up in the New York Times — I was opposed to giving them more money.” The crowd cheers.

More protesting shouts from the woman, drowned out by chants of “Newt! Newt! Newt!”

He makes a reference to the “noisy Left.” A man near me says “Someone slug ‘er in the mouth!”

Newt is more diplomatic, saying, “We’re not gonna let HER disrupt us from having a rational conversation.”

He takes a shot at Romney: “Governor Romney has an enormous amount of money, but if you look around here, we have an enormous amount of people.”

“I believe people power beats money power every time in the United States of America.”

Then he goes on to preach the virtues of unchecked capitalism.

If Newt is the nominee, he says, he will challenge the President to seven three-hour debates. “I will accept the President using a teleprompter,” he says. “If you had to defend Obamacare, you’d want a teleprompter too.”

More shouting. He lets it go on and then finally says “You guys are cruel!”

Gingrich spoke of his history “helping to develop supply-side economics” in the 1980s, creating 16 million jobs in the 1980s, 11 million in the 90s, and reforming welfare, which he called “the biggest entitlement reform of your lifetime.”

He called Obama “the best food stamp president in American history” and referred to himself “the paycheck candidate.”

Gingrich derided “Saul Alinsky European left-wing intellectual radicalism” and said, if he wins the GOP nomination, he’ll be “the American candidate.”

Callista Gingrich, wife of GOP candidate Newt Gingrich, signs a box of Girl Scout cookies. Some conservative groups have called for a boycott of the cookies, citing the organization's pro-choice and pro-GLBT record.

He said he would make domestic energy a priority. “We want an American energy program, because never again should any American president bow to a Saudi king.”

Though the event was held at Wings Plus restaurant, long a favorite of GOP candidates, Gingrich did not enter the facility nor partake of any chicken wings.

// More photos at Demotix >