TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The South Florida Water Management District has approved a plan to buy about 20,000 acres in the Everglades, a deal that would block exploratory oil drilling on part of the property.

The district’s Board of Governors on Saturday approved purchasing the land from Kanter Real Estate LLC. Gov. Ron DeSantis last month announced the proposed acquisition, after years of litigation about potential oil drilling on part of the Kanter property in Broward County.

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The state Department of Environmental Protection obtained an option to buy the 20,000 and wanted to assign the option to the water management district, according to an agenda for Saturday’s meeting.

The price for the land will be $16.56 million if the deal closes by June 30 and would go to $18 million if the purchase takes longer.

The agenda said the district “anticipates being ready, willing and able to close on or before June 30.” Last February, a panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled the Department of Environmental Protection improperly rejected a recommended order by an administrative law judge, who said in 2017 that a permit should be approved for Kanter to drill an exploratory well.

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Kanter had applied in 2015 for the permit, which the department denied.

“The $16,560,000 purchase price enables the district to acquire all surface and subsurface rights in the property,” the meeting agenda said.

“This preserves the lands in their natural condition, obtains all property rights and avoids risks associated with oil, gas, and mineral exploration and extraction.”

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