Darren Soto says cities, counties pushing for fracking ban

fracking well

The Democratic sponsor of a Senate bill that would ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, said Thursday that local governments are creating a groundswell of support for the legislation.

Fracking can involve using water, sand, and chemicals to force oil and gas from underground rock. Environmentalists have raised concerns that the process is a threat to drinking water, especially in Florida with its reliance on aquifers for its water supply.

Hydraulic fracturing would be banned under SB 166, by Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, and HB 169 by Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach. Neither bill has been heard in a committee so their chances of passing do not look good.

This week, Tallahassee and Leon County adopted resolutions supporting a statewide ban. They joined Coconut Beach and Alachua, Hamilton, Madison, Miami-Dade, and Union counties in opposition to fracking, according to Food & Water Watch and ReThink Energy Florida.

“These are counties all across the political spectrum,” Soto said Thursday. “But they all understand conservation shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It needs to be an issue all Floridians support.”

Meanwhile, bills have been filed in the House and Senate establishing regulatory requirements for “high-pressure well stimulation,” which would include forms of fracking that don’t use chemicals. In addition, HB 1209 would provide for an exemption from public records law for the same practice.

But Soto, during a press conference on environmental issues with four other Democratic senators, dismissed the idea of strengthening regulation, saying fracking is a threat to the state’s beauty.

“I don’t want to quibble with whether it (fracking) should be regulated and whether we should increase the fines,” Soto said Thursday. “Fracking should be banned in Florida period.”

David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said the cities or counties supporting the ban heard from environmental activists, but probably didn’t seek input from the energy industry.

He quoted past and present Obama administration officials who said either that tracking doesn’t pose a threat or the problems associated it are manageable.

“I don’t think any of them (cities and counties) examined the issue,” Mica said. “I would be happy to go before any of them and talk about what the technology has meant to America.”

And Rep. Ray Rodrigues, a Republican from Estero, said he hasn’t seen any science to support a statewide ban on fracking. He is sponsor HB 1205 to regulate fracking, which Sierra Club Florida opposes, and HB 1209 to provide the public records exemption.

“I think any locality is free to pass any resolution taking a position on legislation that is proposed here,” Rodrigues said Thursday.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 launched a study of the environmental effects of fracking and the study is due out this year. But Inside Climate News reported that the study won’t be able to answer the central question because the oil and gas industry refused to cooperate in the study.

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee. 

Bruce Ritchie


6 comments

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  • Alton Paul Burns

    March 13, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    We need to get a statewide ban on fracking in Georgia too! That will require action from the people so become proactive now and contact your local County Commissioners and representives. Thank You

  • sandyo

    March 13, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    YAAAAAY FOR SOTO! TRUE TO DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND STANDING UP FOR THEM.

    GO, DARREN!

  • Gale DIckert

    March 14, 2015 at 4:44 am

    Mr. Mica, why not tell the truth about fracking? You would not be able to fool the good people of the once pristine Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale region – or residents in towns in California, Colorado or other states where so many residents, and their livestock, are now sickened from drinking well water contaminated by carcinogenic, and often radioactive, wastewater from fracking. There is simply no safe way to dispose of such toxic fracking wastewater –, especially in our fragile karst geology of FL. Many citizens in other states have lost, not only their health, but also their property values -and often their homes, when all their water was contaminated by fracking.
    Nor could you fool folks in Ohio where fracking is now causing earthquakes and tremors which has damaged buildings and homes and caused widespread contamination and loss of clean local water supplies.
    It takes 5 to 9 million gallons of local water to frack one well –and the contaminated wastewater from fracking is often injected back into the ground or discarded in places where it contaminates local wells or the aquifer, as happened in California recently when benzene, a toxic fracking chemical, was discovered in a stream that provides drinking water. These tragic events are becoming more commonplace. This should not be happening in America! And, it certainly should not happen in FL– just as our State lawmakers and scientists are embarking on restoring our endangered FL waters following the overwhelming vote of the people on Amendment One. What sense would it make to allow more fracking at the same time we are working hard to restore FL waters?
    Years ago, the Halliburton Loophole, a Federal rule, exempted the oil and gas industry from the rules all other American industries must follow. This Rule leaves citizens no recourse where fracking is taking place and their wells are polluted. Well drillers who frack wells also suffer many serious health problems due to prolonged daily exposure to the hundreds of chemicals and fine sand used in fracking.
    These are all problems that deeply concern FL physicians. In fact, the FL Medical Association has a strong Resolution on Fracking. Many physicians are actively working for a Florida ban on fracking, as are some FL lawmakers who now have House and Senate bills to ban this contaminating process to protect our FL waters and the rights of FL citizens to clean water and clean air.
    More and more FL counties and cities now have Resolutions calling for a FL Ban on Fracking, including Miami-Dade and our Capitol City, Tallahassee and Leon County, Alachua County, Hamilton, Union and Madison Counties and others with more being added each week. Our Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, representing member Garden Clubs in most FL towns and cities now also has a strong Position Paper calling for a Florida Ban on Fracking.
    States like New York, Vermont and others and many counties have banned fracking, including Denton, TX, where fracking was invented! France and Germany and Bulgaria are among European Countries that have banned fracking. Documentaries of fracking operations taking place in states like Colorado and Pennsylvania leave no doubt as to what fracking has done to residents’ lives in those states — where fracking has moved from wide-open spaces right into residential areas –often, incredibly, within 300 feet or less from homes and schools! Clearly, this is not about need, but about greed, as there is now a glut of oil and gas on the market from all the fracking –. –so much so that much of this natural resource is now being exported for profit, with no thought of conserving for the future!
    Our State of Florida is all about water. We cannot live without clean water, and our tourist trade certainly won’t survive without it. Water is already in diminishingly short supply in the Sunshine State. Citizens want a clean environment for all. Florida citizens are expecting our Governor and our Legislature to do all in their power to protect and restore this Florida we love. Fracking has no place here! The State of Florida should be focused on working to restore our waters – not pollute them!. We hope Florida lawmakers and the Governor will recognize the great need to join forces to put Florida’s best minds to work on developing innovative and clean, renewable energy options like Colorado and other states have done so successfully that will take us into the next century! And now is the best time to start, as we work together to clean up and restore FL waters!

  • Amy Datz

    March 14, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Thanks for the article you do great work. HB 1205, 1207, 1209 and SB 1468 have not gotten on the agenda either. Why not be fair and balanced and say it doesn’t look good for these pro fracking bills either.

    • Gale Dickert

      March 16, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Great point, fracking ban bills need to be heard right away! Need good coverage, please!

Comments are closed.


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