Will Florida Let Gas Companies Keep Fracking Chemicals Secret?

The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on two bills —  SB 1582 and SB 1468 — that opponents are calling "The Fracking Secret Chemicals bill[s]." 

During the process of fracking, oil and gas exploration companies inject chemicals into the ground in pursuit of natural gas reserves. These chemicals could potentially end up in underground aquifers and therefore drinking water. But the the companies say they shouldn't have to disclose what chemicals they're using because they are trade secrets.

In the process of getting permits to look for underground stores of gas, companies have to submit details about their high-pressure wells to the Department of Environmental Protection. SB 1468 would regulate fracking in Florida (thereby permitting it) and let these companies mark certain pages of documents as "proprietary business information."

And SB 1582 specifies that If anyone were to request any such pages as a public records request, the companies would be notified and have 30 days to go to court to object to the release of the information. 

This lunacy was introduced by Sen. Garrett Richter, a Republican from Naples. He sponsored both bills. 

Linda Young, executive director of the Clean Water Network, believes there's a chance legislators will defeat these measures but says some South Florida senators are key and still need to be persuaded to vote against them: in Palm Beach and Broward, Sens. Eleanor Sobel, Jeremy Ring, Oscar Braynon, and Joseph Abruzzo. She said even some Republicans — like Jack Latvala and Dorthy Hukill — are against the fracking bills. 

Companion bills introduced by Rep. Ray Rodrigues of Estero — HB 1205 and HB 1209 — are moving through the House. 

Here's a PSA against the bills : 

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'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Deirdra Funcheon