Broxson Withdraws Bill To Allow Oil Drilling In Blackwater River Forest

February 20, 2013

[Updated 1 p.m.] Rep. Doug Broxson withdrew a bill today that would have allowed private companies to drill for oil and gas in the Blackwater River State Forest in north Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The bill was withdrawn after public outcry against the idea.

Broxson said drilling could have created as many as 300 new jobs while creating $30 to $60 million in revenue for the state. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had already given a nod to the plan to drill on 190,000 acres if natural assets were not disturbed.

The idea of drilling in a pristine forest has sparked a public outcry to stop the legislation. Sisters Marsha and Erin Fuqua created a Facebook page Save Blackwater River State Forest that has grown to over 1,500 likes, while a petition against Broxson’s bill  has accumulated over 2,200 signatures.

“Since filing HB 431, our office has received many emails and phone calls, both in support and opposition to this bill, but very few people seem to have a sense of what the bill actually does,” Broxson said Wednesday afternoon. “I believe that we should have further discussion about how the leases in Blackwater are determined and managed, but in light of the misinformation about this bill, it is probably best to take the legislation off the table until we can have a more public conversation to address the facts.”

Broxson will still  hold town hall meeting on Blackwater drilling on Monday, February 25 at the Jay Community Center from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m.  The meeting will include representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Florida Forrest Service, who will provide information and answer questions regarding the issue of oil drilling on state lands.

“I look forward to continuing this discussion on Monday and in the future as a means to safeguard our quality of life and achieve maximum economic benefit for every citizen in Northwest Florida,” Broxson said.

Oil fields have operated in Jay — less than 10 miles from the Blackwater River State Forest — since the early 1970’s when oil and gas were discovered in northern Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1p.m. on 2/20/2013 to reflect Broxson’s bill was withdrawn hours after our original story was posted.


47 Responses to “Broxson Withdraws Bill To Allow Oil Drilling In Blackwater River Forest”

  1. wayne garrett on March 6th, 2013 1:01 am


  2. David Huie Green on February 23rd, 2013 10:01 am

    “In the 1960s, the EPA funded a study by Standard Oil (now BP) which successfully produced gasoline from common milkweed.”

    EPA was created on December 2, 1970, by President Richard Nixon. Could not have funded a study ere it existed.

    Standard Oil was broken up in 1911. You may mean Standard Oil of Ohio, though.

    No plant has more energy than that which it trapped when growing. This is not to say milkweed couldn’t yield energy nor that it isn’t a pretty plant.

    This is definitely better than the ones who think they can extract energy from water.

    David for reality

  3. Ken Johnson on February 22nd, 2013 10:39 pm

    Most people who supported this bill, including Broxson, gave the false assertion that it would help with America’s oil independence and that the oil would go into American cars. This never was the case. Most American oil is sold overseas for a premium while we buy cheap oil from fundamental Islamic terrorist countries. If Broxson, or any other law maker, wished to really do something about being energy independent then I would pose to them the suggestion that we look at hydrocarbon alternatives that would replace petroleum but still give us gasoline, plastics, rubber, paint chemicals, etc. that we need. In the 1960s, the EPA funded a study by Standard Oil (now BP) which successfully produced gasoline from common milkweed. In Japan they use chitosan (from prawn shells) grafted to cellulose to make a fruit/vegetable coatings, plastics, etc. that not only replaces the need for petroleum but also extends the freshness of produce and does not clog landfills.

  4. friction against the machine on February 21st, 2013 8:12 pm

    Fracking will make the US the NUMBER ONE crude and natural gas producer in the WORLD-unless the left wing, tree huggers get their way. It’s just common sense, the biggest problem with the economy is high gas prices. To lower prices you increase demand. What ever happened to common sense? You people want to pay Obama’s preferred $8.00 a gallon for gas or would you rather pay $2.00 a gallon and use that money for something else?

  5. David Huie Green on February 21st, 2013 5:31 pm

    “Another beautiful forest about to be destroyed. Not only that, but you know those schmucks will be “FRACKING” as well. Does anybody on here know the dangers of fracking??? If not, why are some U.S. states banning it?!?!?! “

    Drilling rigs don’t destroy entire forests. You often don’t know they are there.

    Fracking sounds fracking obscene. The word, I mean.

    The process is simple in concept. You mix sand with water and pump it down a well, then you pump it up to several thousand pounds per square inch until the pressure causes the rock around the borehole to fracture/crack. Water and sand goes in the cracks and the sand may prop the fracture open, allowing liquids and gas to flow more easily. It increases the permeability of the impermeable rock.

    What comes back will be whatever went down plus whatever gases and liquids were in the rock. If that is nasty, the returns will be nasty. They need to be treated to remove the nasty stuff or pumped down into a reservoir rock formation which can safely hold them. It depends on the circumstances.

    The danger comes when the rock being fractured is either near the surface or has no impermeable rock formations above it. If that happens, instead of flowing safely into the borehole, the fluids might escape the formation and reach the surface waters. That may have happened in some cases and is why some are scared of it in all cases.

    The truth is there are instances where fracking shouldn’t be done, others where it may be done safely. Time will tell.

    One thing, though: Fracking is only done when there is low permeability reservoir rock formation. If fluids flow easily, fracking is not needed.

    David for truth

  6. molino jim on February 21st, 2013 2:22 pm

    It’s odd that so many of these “high paying jobs” never materialize. Candy company in P’cola, crosstie company in Century and on and on. If there is such an interest in drilling in Blackwater why not try slant drilling from some of the land outside of the forest. We are shipping oil from this country, so is it not time for us to slow down some what? The oil that “may” be found would have very little effect on our local gas prices. A part of the problem is the lack of corn to make alcohol to be added to the gas. Appx 40% of the corn grown in this country goes into the gas/alcohol mix. Your friends in Congress did this to us a few years ago. Ref. “fracking”–the people who built homes near the Love Canal felt safe–until their kids started dying from cancer. The stuff buried in the canal was killing people, but they were told “do’nt worry it’s safe”.

  7. LEO GUY on February 21st, 2013 2:00 pm


    Be careful what you wish for. With the tree huggers we have here and the one at
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We’ll probably get it.
    P.S. That’s the White House.

  8. WorkingN2013 on February 21st, 2013 11:06 am

    Funny to see someone talking about the dangers of fracking that I would bet the farm has no education on fracking. But I respect opinions and he is entitled to his. For the rest of you I would only tell you this. I grew up around the Jay area and have been gone for a few years now. Reason for that is I could only make enough money to just pay bills. No future of being secure to enjoy life and family just shift after shift and beg for OT because kids needed something or car needed repair. I work in the Oil and Gas industry now and my family lives with me in North Dakota. I am educated on the fracking process and would not have my family here if it would harm them. But ND has seen the effects of fracking….less than 3% total unemployment for the state and 3 billion in the states rainy day fund. No your are doesn’t need that kind of trouble. Sad to see good people work thier life away to pay for a funeral. Not an opinion I lived the story!

  9. Deborah Callicott on February 21st, 2013 10:49 am

    At $3.85/gal for gas it is past TIME to DRILL here at home ….. It is time to create jobs, cut dependancy, and stand on our own ,…… Send foreign oil packing !!!!

  10. Lees on February 21st, 2013 9:29 am

    Just recently I stopped to look at property on a main road in Jay. The owners asked me to be careful of walking/driving on the property due to several sink holes left in the ground from the past drilling. She also explained that the only thing that would grow there was blackberry vines. Several were large noticable holes while others were below the service and could go undetected until you were in it. My grandmother can not sell her land to any other person but the oil companies now due to contamination from drilling. Our ground is our life source. I can survive without extra gas in my car, or cutting back my energy/heating bills. We cannot survive on land that is abused and will no longer provide the natural food/water and nutrients our creator meant us to use it for. We walk on the ground, we survive because of the soil and streams. Stop taking that for granted for money. *Some own everything, yet know the value of nothing*

  11. Mel on February 21st, 2013 8:45 am

    Thats good. They can drill on my land. I own private land in Blackwater Forest.
    There are hundreds of us ready to allow it. Bring it On!

  12. 429SCJ on February 21st, 2013 5:52 am

    I have to agree with you D.H. Green, the only evidence I see remaining of the past oil boom of this area is an old Mercedes on blocks, an old broke down Honda Goldwing leaning on a tree and some large homes that are now in need of structural repairs. There is not a trace of the Jay refinery where I once performed maintenance work back in the 70s, only a field now.

    I like the way Mr Broxson talks. He is going to obey the will of the ignorant masses
    until we become enlightened. Compliments and insults in the same sentence. Kinda reminds me of someone I know quite well.

  13. niknak50 on February 21st, 2013 3:52 am

    When I came to Jay, 40 years ago, we drilled all around Blackwater forest. On the eastern side of it, to the north and south of it, and never hit paydirt. I don’t think there’s anything there. Believe me, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Conecuh, Monroe counties have had many holes drilled in them looking for oil. The boundaries of the Jay Field are well established through outer edge exploration.

  14. Tommy T. on February 21st, 2013 12:54 am

    Another beautiful forest about to be destroyed. Not only that, but you know those schmucks will be “FRACKING” as well. Does anybody on here know the dangers of fracking??? If not, why are some U.S. states banning it?!?!?! Fracking can destroy a water supply and system. It happened in Pennsylvania town. The residents there have flammable tap water, not to mention that their water is non drinkable. Listen, you sheeple need to realize that oil and gas is a commodity for the globalists… the elites that control this world. A guy by the name of Stanley Meyer created a method to use water of any sort to run an engine. Shortly after that… Stanley was MURDERED!Research it!!! Type in Stanley Meyer on YouTube and you’ll see what he accomplished with water as fuel.
    As the zionist Henry Kissinger quoted, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

  15. sharon martin on February 20th, 2013 10:58 pm

    Drill Baby Drill!!!

  16. David Huie Green on February 20th, 2013 10:00 pm

    “Take a look at the Nigerian Delta, it is a nightmare of pollution from drilling.”

    Again, drilling is making a hole in the ground by removing the rock that is there. Yes, rock is dirt which hasn’t been broken up yet, but a delta is dirt which settled out as the river water slowed. In other words, deltas are dirty with dirt.

    If you mean there is petroleum which has spilled out, that could well be. Nigerians are well known to steal petroleum and materials. They cut into pipe lines to steal the petroleum for burning for cooking.

    Does that mean pipelines inherently leak? No, it means people can make them leak.

    Most well sites leave a fraction of an acre disturbed and fenced in. (The derricks are there only during drilling, completion and workovers. They are used to pick up pipe.) Leakage is money not made; the owners try to avoid it happening. When well sites are abandoned, it is hard to know where they ever were. Check all the old oil fields and see how much sign there is on Google Earth or even with the naked eye.

    David for truth

  17. troy on February 20th, 2013 8:39 pm

    I hope gas hits $10/Gallon in NW Florida after the comments Ive witnessed on here..

  18. June on February 20th, 2013 7:15 pm

    Drill. We need the jobs and revenue. I lived close by to 3 wells drilled in the 70’s in Blackwater Forest….today you can’t even find the sites. Yes there was noise but not forever. As soon as well is drilled, it’s fitted with valves and pipes and you don’t even know it’s there! I’m in agreement with those who commented on how people go to the extreme to “protect” without being educated!!

  19. jeanna on February 20th, 2013 4:59 pm

    There is no such thing as a clean drilling site. Just use google earth and take an aerial view of drilling sites that have not been camouflaged by the oil companies. Take a look at the Nigerian Delta, it is a nightmare of pollution from drilling.

  20. Mike on February 20th, 2013 4:33 pm

    We do not want any drilling going on within publicly owned lands. Blackwater River State Forest is not private land and should be preserved for wildlife, recreation and current and future generations to enjoyed without drilling rigs, heavy machinery, groundwater pollution and all that goes with the oil industry.

  21. Molino Mom on February 20th, 2013 2:55 pm

    Good choice Rep. Broxson. People remember, this is a state forest, not private property.

  22. Fishhook240 on February 20th, 2013 2:26 pm

    So 2200 people sign a petition and the world stops and old Doug caves in. Last time I saw the census there was more then 2200 people living in the North West Fl area. I for one am not against it. I’m against $4:00 plus at the pump

  23. William on February 20th, 2013 1:20 pm


  24. David Huie Green on February 20th, 2013 12:05 pm

    “Gee Jane, I seem to have missed all the “ruined” areas around Jay, Florida. I can’t see them when I am up that way.”

    Excellent point.

    The fear is the damage done if the petroleum is not contained but escapes. The companies never want it to escape. Sometimes it does if the workers are apathetic or ignorant but usually it doesn’t.

    “Usually” means sometimes it does.

    And to be honest, all that hydrogen sulfide from the Jay Oil Field did a number on fences and cars, corroding them away way before their time.

    All drilling is is making a hole in the ground to reach whatever is below. If we insist it be reached in a safe manner, everybody should be happy — unless there’s nothing down there, in which case some would still be happy. No oil means no possibility of pollution — just as it means no money and no jobs.

    Oh, I also forgot some people don’t like oilfield workers, calling them “oilfield trash”. We didn’t mind.

    David for clean nuclear

  25. tc on February 20th, 2013 12:05 pm

    ? For Walter Duke.. Youve seen alot of changes in 51 years.. Please tell me, Have you saw a gasoline powered vehicle that will run without gas yet? Didnt think so…….

  26. Bam on February 20th, 2013 11:40 am

    THEY are all for drilling in North Dakota or anywhere else as long as its not in their own back yards.

  27. mnon on February 20th, 2013 10:58 am

    I say drill, we need to become more independent as a nation with our own oil demands. As long as it is not shipped/sold overseas I see no issue with it. It will create jobs which we need here in the panhandle, it will generate more revenue that could possibly go to help develop our strained school system, etc. As long as the politicians use the funds to better the panhandle and not line their pockets I’m fine with it. Don’t worry Blackwater hippies, there will be more than enough places still to sit in your drum circles smoking pot and contemplating the environment while in the woods becoming one with nature.

  28. Maura F Baccei on February 20th, 2013 10:30 am

    More focused on money than the planet that supports us, Americans obsess on how “the debt burden” will impose on our children. The environmental burden they will inherit will be far graver. Florida’s “sleeping snake” will be WATER. Our failure as stewards will leave future generations with too much (from rising seas), too little (from over-population), and/or too toxic (from excessive pollutants) . Even a zero debt burden would pale by comparison.

  29. Sam on February 20th, 2013 9:54 am

    Have you tree huggers seen the price of gas? Drill it.

  30. Walter Duke on February 20th, 2013 9:42 am

    I have lived in Florida for 51 years,I have seen te deforestation of Cypress Heads,the poisoning of the Everglades by the sugar and dairy industry,the rape of our coastline by developers,the pollution of our costal waters by the oil industry and cruise ships_there is little left of the Florida that I knew as a child….the time is NOW to make a stand and say NO to any further defilement of our precious environment.

  31. Randy on February 20th, 2013 9:24 am

    1. I support drilling in the Blackwater forest as long as it does not disturb the natural beauty of the land. It is time that we harvest our energy resources to support America’s energy demands. Drill baby drill….

  32. Dumb on February 20th, 2013 9:10 am

    Frank, you hit the nail on the head. I work in the oil drilling business for twenty nine years and retired. We have so many critics that do not understand, but yet put their expert opinion out there on why we should not drill in Florida . It kills the ego system, but every time we go fishing we go the the oil rig platforms to fish. It will destroy the ocean bottom and we sink ships to give the fish some thing to get into and spawn ,and with out any knowledge of the ocean floor. We have a small amount of people that live in their on world and not in the real world. My self i wish they would shut the gas off the Florida line. These are the same people who want to disarm you and your family. They buy a news paper and go straight to the comic section for their news on what is going on around them.

  33. eeyore on February 20th, 2013 9:10 am

    …its 2013…where is my hovercar like in the jetsons? and my “mr fusion” to run it like in “back to the future”? dont know about anyone else but i feel like i’ve been cheated…in all due sriousness, the need for this project would not be needed if people would be more sensable about conserving energy like conserving the environment.

  34. Mark on February 20th, 2013 9:03 am

    I don’t think the issue is people not wanting to drill and refine the oil in the US giving us less dependence on foreign oil.

    The problem is, they don’t want them drilling in their own back yard.

    It’s that way with everything…

    We need more prisons, but don’t build them near “my” house!

    Wind energy works, but keep those disgusting large windmills out of “my” view!

    We need more landfills, but not near where “I” live!

    etc, etc, etc.

  35. Mic Hall on February 20th, 2013 9:01 am

    Would the ignorant that keep crying “clean energy” get over it.


    Everything has an environmental cost. They all require some digging, smelters and refining for the metals and exotic materials used. It turns out you have to have petroleum based products to produce Wind turbines and Solar cells.

    None of them work well enough to replace our need for energy yet. Give them another 20 years and maybe they will be up for the job.

    Keep a close eye on the oil companies and serious penalty’s for any violation and they will keep very strict rules.

  36. LEO GUY on February 20th, 2013 8:44 am


    Gee Jane, I seem to have missed all the “ruined” areas around Jay, Florida. I can’t see them when I am up that way. Maybe the “ruined” areas are behind all those big houses that look like South Fork (from the TV show on Dallas) up there. Start riding a bicycle instead of a car if you care so much. Just saying. :-/

  37. Frank on February 20th, 2013 8:42 am

    Everyone who is against drilling…. park your car, or buy an electric one “Oh wait, ya have to have that produced by gas or oil also” ….ok, just park your cars and do nothing… I have lived in Jay and saw that the resorces are protected…hunted and fished under the rig in East bay. Go for it – Mr. Broxton, Drill!
    A Country Boy and Love it!

  38. Lady on February 20th, 2013 8:36 am

    Do you ever wonder why the oil companies are steadily going to foreign lands to drill for oil? Its because we are not educated on the oil business. We do not need to keep depending on opec for oil but bring it in our country. Look at all atl th well drilled in Jay and it didn’t hurt the area. The only think it did was bring in our own oil and gas and not depend on foreign sources. The oil companies all “preach” safety and keeping the environment safe. Sure there are accidents like the BP incident but look at the statistics on how often this happens. I say BRING IT ON and bring on the ones in and nearby fields from the Jay field and not depend on FOREIGN SOURCES. I don’t see any forests hurt around Jay or any rivers hurt. I hope someone gets a movement going to help Rep. Broxson and I’m for one to get it going.

  39. Mason on February 20th, 2013 8:33 am

    The Blackwater forest crosses the Alabama line and becomes Conecuh National Forest. It’s just as beautiful as BW. I would suggest to all of the tree huggers to take a road trip through it. Enjoy all of it’s wonder and beauty. While riding sround or hiking I challenge you to find an oil well with all of it’s scary destruction. Oil drilling has been going on here for over 35 years. You would never know it. Stop reading news papers and websites and watching tv and go educate yourself. Get off the couch and out if the house and learn something instead of following the lnee jerking sheep. It’s not a danger to the forest half of you petition signees have never seen.

  40. creda on February 20th, 2013 8:26 am

    Everyone of you people against this proposal need to park your vehicles & do without… How can you be so hypocritical ? Whether the oil comes from your back yard or someone elses, we CANNOT live without it!! 95% of the people complaining have no clue what goes on while drilling a well on land or offshore.. Come on people, Use your heads!


  41. Steve on February 20th, 2013 8:08 am

    I grew up in Santa Rosa County and I’m a believer in being self sufficient as a country. That includes energy. I also think that we should utilize our natural resources in a responsible manner. However, as much as we need the productsderived from those natural resources, we also need large natural areas that can be explored by our children and ourselves. I have worked in the Blackwater River State Forest and while it is not pristine it is worth maintaining and managing with aesthetics as one of the primary objectives. I couldn’t enjoy walking around the forest knowing that it was also occupied by some kind of oil drilling infrastructure. I understand that politics revolves around generating revenue and redistributing it. I would like to see politicians work as hard at reducing spending as they do generating income. Maybe that would lessen the compulsion to develop these natural areas.

  42. BentStraight on February 20th, 2013 7:51 am

    People have a typical “knee-jerk reaction” to drilling and assume it destroys the environment, this is unfortunate and untrue. Our forests are managed by controlled burns and timber harvesting, and these practices have more impact than drilling would, But, the public has a misconception of drilling.

  43. Walnut Hill Roy on February 20th, 2013 7:31 am

    I appreciate the pristine outdoors as much as anyone, but today’s drilling technology has eliminated a lot of the sins of the past. Oil is a finite international commodity and is traded as such, the important part is that everyone gets their share without paying astronomical shipping costs. What everyone fails to realize is how fast the population is growing today, within 25 – 50 years we will be building houses on that forest land; I say let them remove the oil first.

  44. Jane on February 20th, 2013 7:04 am

    Create clean energy instead of ruining a beautiful area…one of the few left here in the panhandle. A clean energy industry would create more jobs with less destruction to the habitat.

  45. jcq on February 20th, 2013 5:54 am

    I live in Blackwater State Forest and its beautiful,quiet and untouched.It should remain that way.

  46. Henry Coe on February 20th, 2013 3:28 am

    We are losing pristine forest areas all over Florida. Besides the risk for pollution with drilling and the potential for accidents, as if that weren’t reason enough too say “No”, we need to keep protecting these protected areas for the sake of wild life’s natural habitat.
    We don’t have to drill everywhere just because we could. Under Jeb Bush Florida lost a bunch of protected areas including wetlands that got filled with red clay and now have a Wal-Mart on top of them.

    There are probably 10K leases already set up for oil drilling in areas where no drilling has started.
    A key thing to observe in Broxson’s statement is where he says. ” this could created jobs”. That is not proof that jobs will be forth coming any time soon or that it would create the amount of jobs he states.
    If Florida is gullible enough to pass this, they need to get a guarantee about those jobs, that they would start soon and that they would go to Floridians. Like give the oil companies 5 years to start drilling and creating jobs and if they don’t, then the lease is canceled and the land defaults back to the state as protected.

    I’m totally against it, but being that District 1 is about 70% Republican and that Republicans seem to have no foresight and are easily manipulated into voting for anything oil, it should at least be done in such a way that it is guaranteed to benefit Floridians. Or we “Could” be giving up this pristine wild life area for nothing with oil being sold out side of America.

  47. Call Me Crazy on February 20th, 2013 1:09 am

    Call Me Crazy but we need to do something. If it is controlled and limited I think it would work. If they can use existing roads and have a buffer zone from the creeks and swamp lands then I would say Yes. Off course their needs to be heavy monitoring of the oil wells from a outside source. We need to get away from OPEC and Our Oil is the only thing that will do it. I really doubt it will pass. Just to many people will complain. To many people remember the oil on the beaches right now. If we ever get to rolling blackouts like California or 8 dollar gas then it would pass.

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