Bills that throw a cloak of secrecy over fracking operations in Florida passed out of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Tuesday. The measures exempt from public disclosure the chemicals, which are rich in toxins, used in the process.
See also: - Florida Fracking: Sen. Jeff Clemens Says Name Your Poison Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," involves blasting millions of gallons of water and a chemical stew into the ground to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas. No fracking is currently underway in Florida, but it's on the horizon. Drilling applications have been granted for Collier and Hendry counties and applied for in Santa Rosa.
The measures, both sponsored by Lee County Republican Ray Rodrigues, are something of an improvement over similar bills he introduced last year. Those measures would have required that drillers disclose chemicals used to FracFocus.org, an organization whose bias is questionable and track record weak.
This year's measures require disclosure to the state Department of Environmental Protection. But drillers are still permitted to label their chemical mixtures "trade secrets," exempting them from disclosure to the general public under Florida's Open Government and Public Records laws.
Rodrigues has characterized his bills as better than nothing. "Do you prefer the status quo, which is hydraulic fracturing is permitted with no disclosure," he asked the committee, "or do you prefer to know what chemicals are being put into the ground?"
In an email to New Times, committee member Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) said that her issue with hydraulic fracturing remains "the potential impact to our water supply from the chemical additives used in the process" and that "adequate safeguards should be in place to ensure that environmental protection is not compromised."
Speaking to web publication Law360, Sierra Club Florida lobbyist David Cullen described the Rodrigues bills as "a public relations strategy so the [oil] industry will be able to say, 'Look what we're doing in the way of 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 Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.