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Florida Fracking: Sen. Jeff Clemens Says Name Your Poison

Name yer poison. Especially if you're messing with chemicals that have the potential to contaminate Florida's groundwater supply. That's the intent of legislation filed by State Sen. Jeff Clemens, which would create a registry of chemicals used by companies fracking for oil in the Sunshine State.

See also: - America's Fracking Gold Rush

Hydraulic fracturing, AKA "fracking," involves blasting millions of gallons of water and a slew of chemicals into the ground to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas. It's is not yet underway in Florida, but it's on the radar, and its environmental and health impacts are the subjects of heated debate. So disclosure is good, right?

Problem is, Lake Worth Democrat Clemens' bill is up against a similar effort by State Rep. Ray Rodrigues -- similar but crucially different, in that the Lee County Republican's approach includes industry-friendly exemptions to disclosure big enough for an oil rig to drive through.

Rodrigues' bill is pretty much what you would expect from legislation devised by the good folks at ALEC, tthe Koch brothers' LawsRUs network. And with Tallahassee firmly in the grip of the Taliban Florida GOP, Koch and company have a strong upper hand.

Clemens' Senate Bill 1028 is related to Rodrigues' House Bill 743. Both create a registry where oil companies are required to list the ingredients in their stews. They differ on who is to maintain the registry, though. Clemens assigns it to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Rodrigues to FracFocus.org, whose bias is questionable and track record weak.

Worse, Rodrigues' companion House Bill 745 exempts "trade secrets" -- which are extremely broadly defined under Florida law. They would have to be registered but not publicly disclosed. Thanks for nothing.

Clemens' name had been linked to Senate Bill 1776, which also includes the exemption. But he has not moved the bill and, according to his office, will not.

The House bills had smooth sailing at first. But the opposition has gathered strength, and the trade secrets exemption bill is stalled.

In text messages, Clemens told New Times that he doesn't necessarily believe fracking can be done in a safe and environmentally sound way but that "if they find a way to make it happen in Florida, we deserve true disclosure."

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact [email protected].

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