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The ruling by a three-judge appeals court panel is a threat to the restoration of the Everglades and to the aquifer that supplies drinking water for Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. (Photo: Sun Sentinel)

The arrogance of a three-judge panel imperils the Everglades | Editorial

It’s a common assumption that the Florida Supreme Court has the last word about law and justice in this state. But a deeply disturbing decision to allow an exploratory oil well in the Everglades shows that impression is largely false.

The ruling came from a three-judge panel at the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. Its content appears to leave little, if any, room for an appeal to the seven justices at the state Supreme Court.

In an act of judicial arrogance, the appellate panel refused without comment to refer the case to the entire 15-judge district court or certify it to the Supreme Court as a “question of great public importance.”

If protecting the Everglades from the messy consequences of oil drilling isn’t a matter of great public importance, it’s hard to imagine what would be.

That’s why the Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Miramar and Broward County — the parties fighting to prevent it — asked the panel to rehear it, refer it to the full appellate court or give the Supreme Court an option to review it.

Their motions were initially promoted by the three-judge panel that favored the oil drilling applicant, Kanter Real Estate LLC. And when the court withdrew the opinion as erroneously issued this week, our community’s hopes were raised for a moment. But a day later, the court re-issued the pro-drilling opinion, minus the push for a fuller vetting.

The ruling is a threat to restoration of the Everglades and to the aquifer that supplies drinking water for Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

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