Fracking bill, that would have taken away city & county rights to ban fracking, dies in FL Senate

Fracking bill dies in FL Senate by Aryanna Duhl, March 23, 2016, fsunews

Hydraulic and acidic fracturing “fracking” bill 318 has been highly controversial in Florida, with opponents fierce in their efforts to stop its passing in the Senate.

Rallies have been held, and for six months, activists have been making phone calls to Senators, imploring them to vote down the fracking regulations bill. On March 1, these activists got their win as Senate Bill 318 died in appropriations, having lost the committee vote 9-10.

The bill would have created a permitting process for Florida fracturing, the practice of injecting high-pressure fluids into a rock formation in order to stimulate the release of oil or gas.

Doug Miller, volunteer coordinator for the Tallahassee environmental non-profit ReThink Energy Florida, says the bill “would have taken the right for cities and counties to ban fracking.

It purported to regulate fracking, but actually took way home rule.” This type of bill, voiding any “future ordinances or regulations…by any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state” appeared in May of 2015, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 40. This bill reacted to a fracking ban in Denton, Texas, and ultimately forced the town to allow the resumption of fracking within city limits.

Though anti-fracking organizations have concerns for its practice anywhere, they have made the case that Florida is a particularly dangerous site. One of the primary causes for concern in Florida is the potential pollution of the Floridian Aquifer, the primary source for drinking water in the state. Miller explains that there is a “threat of water contamination if the casing of the well breaks. Whatever chemicals or fluids are left could potentially leak into the aquifer.”

The individual geology of Florida is also a concern to activists, as the limestone on which Florida sits is highly permeable and porous. The porosity and permeability of limestone poses the increased threat of groundwater contamination, as it could allow for the upward migration of hydrocarbons and fracking fluids.

In June of 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a study entitled “Draft Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources.” Although the EPA claimed that they found no “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States,” the EPA’s Dr. Jeff Frithsen said in a webinar that their conclusions were “a finding that could reflect the lack of data available for this Assessment.”

Though the fracking bill has been killed for now, Miller is certain that “next year, the fracking industry is going to come back with more money and more op-eds in their favor…They’re going to have more lies and efforts to mislead the public.” The fight will continue, after the celebrations have ended, as environmental organizations like ReThink Energy Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Floridians Against Fracking, and Food and Water Watch work to create a comprehensive ban on fracking here in Florida.

As a part of the Floridians Against Fracking college tour, the FSU Environmental Service Program and the Office of Student Sustainability will be co-sponsoring an informative event at FSU. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, there will be two speakers in HCB 215 educating students on the subject of fracturing. [Emphasis added]

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