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Politics

DeSantis Close to Getting his 'Fracking Ban' Wish

March 26, 2019 - 5:30pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to ban “fracking” advanced Tuesday in the House and Senate as environmentalists argue the proposals don’t go far enough and the petroleum industry fights to allow the controversial drilling technique.

With the groups opposing the bills for different reasons, some lawmakers were left explaining their support as the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee voted 10-2 to ban “hydraulic fracturing” for oil and natural gas (HB 7029). Later, the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee narrowly approved a broader version (SB 7064) that includes provisions on drilling in the Everglades.

Rep. Kristin Jacobs, D-Coconut Creek, and Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, labeled the House proposal a good “first step” to ban fracking, even if it doesn’t include language desired by environmentalists to address a similar technique called “matrix acidizing.”

“I believe we are better off doing something towards the cause of banning fracking in our state and hope that at some point in this committee process this year, if not hopefully in years to come, that we can continue to work on this and make it more expansive,” Polsky said. “What is presented for us, it’s hard to say no to this bill, because then we are in favor of fracking.”

The acidizing technique uses many of the same chemicals as in fracking, but it dissolves rocks with acid instead of fracturing them with pressurized liquid.

The House version was improved slightly Tuesday in the eyes of environmentalists when bill sponsor Holly Raschein, a Key Largo Republican who chairs the subcommittee, made a change to narrow the definition of fracking from “injecting high volumes of fluids at a high rate” to simply “injecting fluids.”

The narrow definition is not included in the Senate version. But the Senate bill seeks to provide oil-drilling protections for the Everglades. That move is a reaction to an ongoing legal battle over a Broward County landowner’s plan to drill an exploratory oil well on about five acres in the Everglades. The exploratory well would not involve fracking.

Still, environmentalists remain opposed to the House and Senate proposals and the possibility of allowing the matrix acidizing technique. Environmentalists contend that fracking threatens Florida’s water supplies and can affect agricultural production and cause environmental damage.

“It’s not a fracking ban until all forms of fracking are banned,” said Kim Ross, executive director of Rethink Energy Florida.

Gladys Delgadillo, environmental policy specialist for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, pointed to concerns that the public will feel safe from fracking when the omission of matrix acidizing leaves “wiggle words” that could be used by the petroleum industry to engage in the practice.

After years of proposed fracking bans stalling in the Legislature, the issue gained traction this year when DeSantis in January released a list of environmental proposals that included opposition to “hydraulic fracturing.”

The Florida Petroleum Council contends that fracking is safe, can boost oil and gas production and helps hold down energy costs for consumers.

“What are we going to do today to assist us in increasing American energy supplies, that we know make us more secure as a nation, creates a lot of jobs, and is the second greatest source of revenue to our government behind the income tax,” Florida Petroleum Council Executive Director David Mica said. “Banning hydraulic fracturing will not do that.”

Mica, noting most people are unaware that oil production has occurred for decades in Florida, added there is no need for the legislative action as DeSantis could ask the state Department of Environmental Protection to enact a rule change about fracking.

Rep. Rick Roth, R-Loxahatchee, acknowledged being “troubled” in supporting a bill opposed by the petroleum industry, which he credited for improving the nation’s energy independence and for cleaning the environment by helping move from coal-fired power plants to gas-fired plants.

“Natural gas is not the problem, it’s the solution to the problem, and we as Americans have to find a way to do both, to provide more abundant and cheaper and safer energy to prevent climate change, sea level rising, whatever you want to call it,” Roth said. “We can’t just take one extreme position or the other.”

But he said there are concerns from his neighbors about contaminating the state’s water supply, and the bill could help the industry’s public relations.

“I think this bill does part of that, saying we are concerned in Florida about contaminating our water supply by injecting water down into wells to do the fracturing,” Roth said.

Comments

No fracking. No drilling. No exploration. On land or offshore. Period.

What we should be doing is drilling offshore & building new refineries & more pipelines.

I’m for fracking. Not a single person has contracted cancer from it and the water supply has not gotten worse where fracking exists. "If people say fracking is causing cancer, they don't know what they're talking about," University of California at Berkeley scientist Bruce Ames replies, noting that cabbage and broccoli also contain minute portions of chemicals that could technically be called carcinogens. Russia and other OPEC nations are Paying off these environmental groups in the US to stop fracking.

Most of those places use surface water for drinking water. In places where they use underground aquifers, there has been contamination. Florida users ground water. The state sets on limestone which has caves that carry our drinking water from Georgia all the way to south Florida. Drilling though the aquifer to frack in the underlying limestone is a recipe for disaster. We have enough problems without adding another.

It is sad that most people who oppose fracking choose to recklessly include procedures such as acidizing that have been used for more than 100 years due to a lack of knowledge as to what is actually being done, how and why it is done, the amount of products used and the depths of the treatment and the thickness of the producing zone. Unfortunately, politicians sometimes listen to uninformed peoples radical requests without proper study of the facts. To be fair, the Governor should collect and present the facts to all of the voters rather than ban the oil industry in Florida as a cure all. Let it be known I oppose any offshore drilling, I am opposed to the huge multimillion gallons fracking. I suggest that people here study the oilwell completion records of the producing 11,000+ feet wells located south of LaBelle Fl. in the Felda field. An educated plan and agreement between the oil owners and producers and the State of Florida could provide a very equitable solution to get the excess water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades.

I know that every form of oil production is dirty. That every form of oil drilling has accidents. That whenever companies are denied one form they'll push past limits to use any form allowed. No drilling in Florida or it's waters is acceptable. Any accident will have serious effects on our aquifer. Florida gets the majority of it's drinking water from the aquifer. The aquifer also pushes fresh water into the gulfand Atlantic Ocean. That contaminated water would have a serious effect on the environment. The US doesn't need the oil. Florida needs it's drinking water and we need the environment for tourists. One accident is too many. We should remember the BP spill. It was safe until it wasn't. Despite having had a small effect on our environment, it devastated tourism. That's our brrad and butter. Why risk billion$ for a few to make millions. No drilling. No fracking. Not now. Not ever.

Kristin, Tina, Holly, Kim, and Gladys, are "all in"...(that's scary...). Has Al Gore been advised?

Ban all fracking in Florida and it's waters. What kind of foolish nonsense is it to allow acid to destroy the limestone base Florida sets on, that our aquifer runs through. It's an accident waiting to happen and it could destroy drinking water for huge numbers of our population.

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