Florida Senate Votes Down Fracking Bill

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The Florida Senate Appropriations Committee voted 10-9 yesterday to shoot down a highly controversial bill that would have, in essence, banned local communities from regulating fracking, the controversial process by which water, sand, and undisclosed chemicals are pumped into the ground to extract oil and gas.

The bill, SB 318, would have instead given the state the sole power to control the fracking industry. Importantly, the bill would also have allowed fracking, albeit with some strings attached.

Local environmentalists hate the bill and have called it "treacherous," accusing state lawmakers of "selling out" local counties to the natural gas industry. More than 20 counties across the state have banned fracking at the local level. At the end of January, the Broward County Commission voted unanimously to ban the practice, after one energy company, Kanter Real Estate LLC, applied to drill an exploratory well west of Miramar, in the Everglades.

At the time, county commissioners warned that, if Tallahassee's bill passed, and companies eventually did try to frack Broward land, the county could have had a constitutional crisis on its hands. Commissioners in January warned that a fight was brewing between the county and state, and after the Florida House passed its version of the fracking bill on January 27, the situation seemed even more tense.

At both of Broward's commission meeting in January and yesterday's Senate hearing, children were brought to the meetings and spoke out against Tallahassee's plans.

Last month, Megan Sorbo, who is 9 and lives in Orlando, delivered a rousing, all-too-put-together speech in front of the County Commission, where she decried the fact that state lawmakers were selling out her future for short-term gain, adding that "exploratory drilling and fracking are not good stewardship of such unique, diverse and vital habitat."

At yesterday's Senate hearing, an entire trove of schoolchildren from a private Tallahassee school showed up to speak out against the bill, according to the Miami Herald.

"Fracking should be banned in Florida because water is vital for our tourism industry, our drinking water, and, of course, the Everglades,” one student, Jenna Caskey said.

It may seem a bit odd that someone that young has developed such love for Florida's tourism industry, but who are we to discourage kids from getting involved in local government? Rock on.

In fact, we may need an entire army of child activists this week: Due to a parliamentary procedure, the bill could return for a vote again on March 1.

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