Bills That Would Have Allowed Fracking in Florida Die in Senate | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Bills That Would Have Allowed Fracking in Florida Die in Senate

A fracking bill that would have allowed gas and oil companies to not disclose what chemicals they would use during fracking has died. The Senate had been scheduled to vote on HB 1205 on Wednesday. Even though the House ended the legislative session three days early, Florida parliamentary rules gives the Senate the option to pick up a House bill.

Sen. Garrett Richter, HB 1205, set the bill aside, saying it did not have a two-thirds majority, Ana Tinsly, spokeswoman for the Florida Anti-Fracking Coalition, tells New Times. 

House Bill 1205 and its companion bill, SB 1648, would have required basic regulations, including requiring gas and oil companies to apply for a fracking permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The regulations would have set minimal fines for violations and required the DEP to conduct a study of its effects.

But the main issue environmentalists have had with the bill was that it would have been murky on its definition of fracking. Tinsly called the bill a "Trojan horse legislation that would have opened up Florida to fracking" under the guise of regulations and supposed fines.

"Drillers inject acid, chemicals, and water underground to dissolve limestone and release the trapped gas and oil," Tinsly explains. "Under this bill the acid fracking would have gone unregulated. Worse, it would've banned local counties and cities from banning fracking in their own communities. This is a tactic that the gas and oil industry has been employing in other states, where local citizens have attempted to pass local bans and moratoriums."

Hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — is a process of pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and natural gas from rock. Since Florida essentially as soft rock and limestone, acid fracking, which has less pressure, could have been the process used.

Acid fracking was not covered in this bill.

In December of 2013, Texas-based Dan A. Hughes Co. injected acid under pressure in Collier County, the first time that process had been used in Florida. The county filed a lawsuit against DEP, which it eventually dropped

Through Richter's bill, local governments would have been prohibited from regulating fracking. 

"Thanks to the uproar of thousands of activists throughout the state, we were able to defeat this anti-democratic measure," Tinsly tells New Times. "Fracking contaminates water, pollutes the air, and leaves an industrial wasteland in its wake. No amount of regulations will make it safe. If safe fracking existed, we would have seen an example of it in one of the million plus fracking wells across the country already. Florida, with its delicate eco-system and abundant sources of renewable energy, needs to permanently ban this dangerous fossil fuel extraction and instead invest in solar and wind energy."

The Florida Anti-Fracking Coalition is a loose coalition of organizations that have been working together to ban fracking in Florida that includes ReThink Energy Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Stonecrab Alliance, Our Santa Fe River, Save Our Suwannee, and other local groups and unaffiliated activists.