Editorial: Golden Gate Estates oil exploration

Golden Gate Estates

Golden Gate Estates oil exploration

It shouldn’t have taken so long to get a hearing

The state has agreed to a protest group’s request for a hearing into drilling for oil in Golden Gate Estates.

The agreement comes from the same agency that issued the permit to a Texas exploration company doing business with Collier Resources, made up of both sides of the pioneering Collier family.

The company has filed an appeal, saying the hearing ought to be unnecessary.

We hope the Department of Environmental Protection proceeds with plans for the hearing.

A good, thorough, open review of all the pros and cons is what this project has been lacking all along.

Most of the application has been handled at the staff level, with the Dan Hughes Co. dealing with employees rather than accountable elected officials in Tallahassee. That has taken much of the political posturing out of the process, but at what price to the public? Just because this is the province of rulemakers and not elected officials doesn’t give the rulemakers license to shut the public out. Something as groundbreaking as oil wells in back yards deserves every effort to include the public and thoroughly vet the issue.

The DEP did schedule a public information session for Golden Gate in September, although it was not a hearing for pros and cons — just staff members with maps and analyses of drilling methods.

And the elected officials who are closest to the public, county commissioners, have little power on the matter.

Oil drilling, it is true, is nothing new for Collier. But drilling in existing residents’ backyards is something new.

A public hearing by the agency with the authority to set such a precedent is in order and should have been held sooner.

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