The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee unanimously passed landmark legislation Tuesday that would permanently prohibit fracking in Florida.
Senate bill 442, which passed by a vote of 5 to 0, already has bipartisan support from 15 Senate co-sponsors. The bill would ban unconventional “well stimulation” techniques including acid fracking and matrix acidizing.
Fracking is a method that fractures rock apart with a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals and sand so that gas and oil are more easily released. Environmental groups disdain it because of the need for large amounts of water, and what they claim is toxic impact.
Click here to read a Palm Beach Post story about a lawsuit seeking to stop oil exploration in the Big Cypress Preserve west of Miami.
Rani Gereige, MD, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility/Florida, said, “The health effects of fracking are well understood, there are numerous peer-reviewed scientific and medical articles that find the fracking process harms health by polluting the air, water and the environment we live in. Many of the chemicals used are known to cause cancer, are toxic to the nervous system and interfere with the body’s normal hormone functions.”
Almost 90 counties and cities have passed measures against fracking including 16 counties that have passed full ordinances prohibiting fracking within their borders. Together, these municipalities represent over 75 percent of Florida’s population.
Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters, said, “Fracking is a raw deal for Floridians who will bear the brunt of fracking operations in their backyards and the extreme risks to their drinking water, the health of their families, and our shared tourism economy. Anything but a ban is asking Florida taxpayers to bear all the burden of risk,”
Advocates from across the state also plan to gather for a massive rally and advocacy day in Tallahassee on March 22 to support a ban on fracking and the protection of Florida’s water resources.
While state law permits fracking, companies employing the technique must get state approval. But in one instance, a company used fracking without the state’s permission, records show.
In 2014, the state cited the Dan A. Hughes Co. of Beeville, Texas, for conducting an unauthorized “enhanced extraction procedure,” which the Florida Department of Environmental Protection found met the EPA’s description of hydraulic fracturing. The company had a drilling permit but did not have permission specifically for the procedure, DEP said.
The company said it wasn’t fracking because it wasn’t using the usual chemicals, just an acidic solution. It was fined $25,000 and signed a consent order without admitting any wrongdoing.
DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said Wednesday companies permitted to explore, drill or produce in Florida include: Breitburn Operating LP, Breitburn Florida LLC, Hendry Energy Services, LLC, Petro Operating Company, Cholla Petroleum, Inc., Burnett Oil Company, Inc. and Tocala, LLC.
The department has not received any workover notices regarding any current or proposed fracking operations, Miller said.