The News-Press

Published: Apr 17, 2014 12:10 PM EDT

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) - The state's Department of Environmental Protection has told a judge that it will not rescind a permit for a Texas company that wants to drill an exploratory oil well in southwest Florida.
    
The agency decided against following the recommendation of an advisory committee charged with providing advice and ensuring compliance for drilling in the Big Cypress Swamp area.
    
Assistant Deputy Counsel Jeffrey Brown wrote in an agency's court filing this week that the "committee's observations are generally beyond the department's purview in its consideration of the pending application."
    
Local residents and environmental advocates challenged the permit issued in September to the Dan A. Hughes Co. of Beeville, Texas. They say drilling threatens aquifers and habitat vital to the endangered Florida panther.
    
A state administrative judge is reviewing the permit challenge.

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