In 1972, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), whose duties now reside within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), issued Order No. 15 adopting, "Rules and Regulations Governing the Exploration for Hydrocarbons in the Big Cypress Area." These Special Field Rules for the Big Cypress Swamp are now contained in Rule 62C-30.005, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). Order 15 also established the Big Cypress Swamp Advisory Committee (BCSAC) and specified its purpose, composition and duties. Today, the provisions establishing the composition and purpose of the BCSAC are adopted at Section 377.42, Florida Statutes (F.S.).
To ensure compliance with all requirements for obtaining a permit to drill and explore for hydrocarbons in the Big Cypress Swamp area, each application shall be reviewed by the BCSAC. If site-specific conditions require, the committee may recommend that additional procedures, safeguards, or conditions which are necessary to protect the integrity of the Big Cypress Area be required as a condition to the issuance of a permit. The committee may make recommendations; however, decisions to issue or deny permits are under the responsibility of DEP in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. The committee shall administer this section pursuant to the laws of the state, and the rules and orders of the department which apply generally to oil and gas.
Per Section 377.42(2), F.S., the membership of the committee shall be comprised of: the State Geologist, who will serve as chair; a representative from the oil industry; a representative from an organized conservation group; a botanist; and a hydrologist. The BCSAC shall be appointed and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of DEP. The present BCSAC consists of the following members:
Chair - Guy Means, P.G., Chief Geologist (Acting), Florida DEP.
Oil Industry - Gifford Briggs, Regional Director, American Petroleum Institute (API) Gulf Coast Region.
Conservation Group - Bradley Cornell, Southwest Florida Policy Associate for Audubon Western Everglades and Audubon Florida.
Botanist - James R. Snyder, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey (retired).
The committee shall meet at the call of the chair to evaluate a pending application for a permit to drill in the Big Cypress Watershed. The department received an application from Trend Exploration LLC for a drilling permit to explore at a site near Immokalee, Collier County.
October 7, 2021, BCSAC Meeting on the Trend Exploration Project (Oil and Gas Permit No. 1394)
Additional information about the Trend Exploration project, including the application, requests for additional information and the comments of other agencies are available. (Click on the "Public Oculus Login" button and a listing of available documents related to the Trend application will be displayed. These documents can be read online or downloaded.)
Meetings of the BCSAC are noticed and open to the public. Comments will be received before and during the meeting. Refer to BCSAC notices above to find the venue and comment period for upcoming meetings. After such meetings, the public can continue to submit comments to the department's Oil and Gas Program before a final decision on the pending permit application is reached. Additionally, if a "Notice of Intent to Issue a Permit" is issued by the department, the intended agency action will be publicly noticed and provide a timeframe for public input and to file a petition for a hearing.
Committee comments on the Trend application (link to be provided once comments are received)
Comments received from the public for the BCSAC (link to be provided once comments are received)
Comments received by the Oil and Gas Program on the pending Trend Exploration Application (link to be provided once comments are received)
Big Cypress Swamp Boundary Map
For purposes of the oil and gas statutes and rules, the Big Cypress Watershed is defined as the area in Collier County and the adjoining portions of Hendry, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties, which is designated as the Big Cypress Swamp in U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report No. 70003. The boundary of the Big Cypress Swamp is shown below.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.