House approves controversial fracking bill, despite opposition from Democrats


The state House passed a controversial measure to regulate fracking, despite significant opposition from Democrats who said the practice could harm the state’s natural resources.

The House voted 73-45 after more than an hour of passionate debate to approve the bill (HB 191), with just a few Republicans joining Democrats in opposing it.

“Yesterday, over 27 counties said they wanted to ban fracking yet you are up here representing your county and you’re just going to push that green button just because your leadership says ‘do it,’” said Rep. Larry Lee, a Port St. Lucie Democrat. “It’s wrong.”

The vote marked the third time since 2013 that the state House has voted on a bill aimed at hydraulic fracturing. Rep. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican, has filed legislation to address fracking every year since 2013. While his early bills focused primarily on disclosure requirements, recent versions of the bills addressed regulation.

“This process has taken four years. This topic has had 17 committee hearings in the House and three votes on the floor, after this vote today,” he said. “I recognize this bill is in the center of a storm of controversy.”

The bill requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct study into the impact fracking, and other high pressure well stimulation techniques, have on Florida’s water and geology.

“This bill is not the beginning, it’s not the end, but it is the continuation of a journey that Florida is taking to preserve and protect our environment,” said Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, a Fort Myers Republican. “I am confident it is much better to examine and regulate the potentially harmful practice than to do nothing at all.”

It also requires the agency to designate FracFocus, a national chemical disclosure registry, as the state’s chemical disclosure registry; increase penalties from $10,000 a day per violation to $25,000 a day per violation; and requires drillers to get a permit before they can begin fracking.

The bill prohibits local governments from instituting bans, but allows local governments to adopt and enforce zoning and land use regulations as long as those rules don’t “impose a moratorium on, effectively prohibit, or inordinately burden” those activities.

“This bill recognizes the emergence of new technology in energy independence in the United States and Florida,” said Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Tampa Republican. “We owe it to our constituents to fully explore whether this new technology can be safely done in Florida, where it can be done in Florida and if it can be done to protect our citizens while reaching the goal that we all share, which is energy independence.”

The reaction to the House decision was swift, with opponents voicing their dismay over the legislative body’s decision.

“These House members turned a deaf ear to the hundreds of peer reviewed studies that have highlighted just how dangerous the process of fracking – from beginning to end – is to the health of nearby communities,” said Dr. Lynn Ringenberg, president of Physicians For Social Responsibility on behalf of Floridians Against Fracking, in a statement. “Pro-fracking legislators, intent on doing the oil and gas industry’s bidding, even scorned sensible health-specific amendments that would have looked at studying things like the pre-natal health effects of fracking. It is a shameful day.”

Ringenberg said if the measure becomes law, communities around the Florida Everglades “will be permanently at risk of exposure” to water contamination and air pollution. She said organizations are now “relying on the Senate to reject this reprehensible bill.”

While opponents expressed outrage over the passage, some business organizations applauded the House for passing the measure. In a statement Wednesday, Brewster Bevis, senior vice president of state and federal affairs for Associated Industries of Florida, commended Rodrigues for his efforts.

“By working in good faith with concerned citizens and third parties, we believe that the final product of HB 191 both appropriately empowers the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to properly regulate the onshore oil and gas industry, and also ensures the protection and preservation of Florida’s environment,” he said in a statement.

The Senate companion (SB 318), sponsored by Naples Republican Sen. Garrett Richter, has one more committee stop before it heads to the full Senate for a vote.

__The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster


  • Steve

    January 27, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Children born this year can expect to live beyond the year 2100. And we are talking fracking? For energy security? Florida could shut down every carbor fired power plant in this state if it agressively adopted solar, tidal and wind projects. We may want to consider doing something as our coasts are being swamped by mere high tides. Barrier islands disappearing, washed over. The water is rising. Even if you don’t believe in anthropogenic warming, a diverse, fixed cost,efficient power grid, would still be the ideal.
    Fracking? You backward looking, bought out, no-count politicians should lose your jobs. Fracking?

  • Chris Eckendorf

    January 28, 2016 at 8:18 am

    you gotta be fucking kidding me ????????

  • linda

    January 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

    The Governor/Republican party of destruction strike again! We already have a glut what do we need more for? Sinkholes and sea level rising what could go wrong!!!!!

  • Rodrigo Vilches

    January 28, 2016 at 9:36 am

    This act is criminal, the incompetence and imbecility of those voting to pass this bill is just completly horrendous…how these guys can do something so stupid? we need as citizens, orginize a boicot to this actions passed by the republican stupidity and lack of common sense.

  • Marlene

    January 28, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    If they start fracking in this state, I’m moving out of it. The damage that will be done to the aquifer will impact the health of everyone in the state. I was raised in FL but I will not risk my health because of greedy businesses and politicians.

    • Me

      January 28, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      They already are lol

    • james

      February 1, 2016 at 10:47 am

      They is fracking in more states than wht you probably even know. It makes me laugh when I hear people tht are uneducated about this subject talk. All they do is believe wht they are being told. Now am I saying frack near your landmarks or preserves, cities no of course not and neither are they most likely.

  • streamfortyseven

    January 28, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    I’m surprised, given the geology of Florida, sea level rise, and sea water infiltration, that this would be allowed… Maybe they just figure the place is doomed, and that they’d better get their money and run.

    • lij lij briggy

      January 28, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      What you said is true, they will make their money and then they’ll move away. Only thing is if they are within a mile from a pad with wells, not one insurance company will give the new homeowner insurance against liablility from the fracking industry. So who’d buy their houses?

  • Tyler

    January 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Hmm one question tho why are you so defensive towards fracking? Is it the fact a leak will contaminate so called cleaner sources of water in the environment and or is it the fact they use some 150 million gallons of water a year???

    I jus wana say animal AG causes more contamination ocean dead zones disease epidemics the leading causes of death is heart disease and cancer caused from animal fat cholesterol and protein…. Also animal AG uses 35 trillion gallons of water a year…. Also the fact we feed some 100 billion animals all this food while we have starving people when if we jus look at the facts it would definitely be feasible if we cut out the middle animal we would end disease end hunger end war ect ect ect ect…. I’m with ya on the solar but they have all sorts of solar roads bike paths car ports ect ect ect in other countries but also they enforce no gmos no fuckin toxic chemicals in the food chain unlike America were here they force chemicals an a toxic diet apon you so you will indeed be guided to the dr were they will leach your bank account until you die of preventable disease… Nutrition how not to die check the book out…

  • Don ferguson

    January 28, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Assholes I hope it’s in your back yard…

  • lij lij briggy

    January 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    “The bill prohibits local governments from instituting bans, but allows local governments to adopt and enforce zoning and land use regulations as long as those rules don’t “impose a moratorium on, effectively prohibit, or inordinately burden” those activities.”

    “This bill recognizes the emergence of new technology in energy independence in the United States and Florida,” said Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Tampa Republican. “We owe it to our constituents to fully explore whether this new technology can be safely done in Florida, where it can be done in Florida and if it can be done to protect our citizens while reaching the goal that we all share, which is energy independence.”

    This is what I said

    I am from NYS, I have been fighting fracking for over 6 years. I have mountains of proof to show you that High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing will totally destroy your land, air and water. Property values will plummet, methane leaks ( as in Calf right now!) will make residents have to leave their homes. Your home owners insurance, will not insure your house if you live within a mile from these wells. The pipes will deteriorate and leak known carcinogens into your ground water, not to mention the 24 hour flares that you will see, hear and smell, containing methane gas and lots of toxic chemicals going into the air. Truck traffic will increase and the state of Florida will lose so much tourism because no one wants to see a pad with wells and the noise from all of the activities associated with HVHF will turn your state into an industrial waste zone. Leaving your citiziens with tainted water and polluted air.

  • Larry

    January 28, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Truly hard to believe. We seem to be having an increasing problem with sink holes already. The everglades and ground water already battle effects of sugar cane pollution runoff. We cannot have our water and environment attacked so violently by the fracking industry. Rick Scott don’t destroy FL just because you have enough money to move to another state after you leave office !!

  • Tom Halpin

    January 29, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Big oil with big $ will rule until every drop of oil is removed from this earth. FL is a delicate, sink hole state. We need to organize before we become an island state. Count me in.

  • Steve Gresham

    January 29, 2016 at 9:57 am

    There is already sufficient evidence on the hazards of fracking in regions with far more suitable geologic structures. Florida can only hope it isn’t even worse here but it certainly won’t be better with our limestone strata. As for regulating it, the best regulation by far is to disallow it. That is a transparent ruse which insults the intelligence of the citizens of Florida.

  • Jean Hopper

    January 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    why can’t these greedy people see beyond their noses? Why must each state have horrible consequences before they stop doing this?

  • Candor

    January 29, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    The short term view has destroyed every human culture so far. Until we reach past fear and greed for our motivation to survive, we won’t survive.

  • Diana

    January 29, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Can’t believe the sunshine state isn’t going solar instead! Cracking at sea level, did the legislators sell out or what?

  • Dee

    January 30, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Only the Republicans want to kill…kill our environment. Kill our land. Kill our citizens-the voters. Kill everything. judgment day is coming when they will have to answer to God

  • Kenley

    January 30, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Please really need to research the issue. Clearly those opposing fracking have absolutely no clue about it and how it works.

  • Dennis Devine

    January 30, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    How can I see how my representative voted on this?

  • LaWren Sanderson

    February 1, 2016 at 1:59 am

    Please stop hurting our Mother.

  • S Cockell

    February 1, 2016 at 11:48 am


    SINK HOLES !!!!!!!!

  • C.B.

    February 1, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    This will LITERALLY RUIN Florida. Why are people so fucking stupid to where they do not care about the environment and people’s health? Literally all they care about is money, money, and money! I hope that those kinds of people get a taste of their own medicine and die of some sort of cancer. The sad part is: a lot of people do not know the actual harm this is going to bring us, as citizen’s of Florida. Not only will it HURT our environment, but the people are probably going to start getting sick because of this. But hey, I guess the mentality is “if its something profitable, then fuck the people’s health and fuck the environment.” Got to LOVE our WONDERFUL (but not really so wonderful) government for letting such a criminal act become legal because it’s going to be profitable. They should be thoroughly ASHAMED to call themselves Americans.

  • Rock Williams

    February 2, 2016 at 9:52 am

    maybe this will help get some of those old people out of the way for a new generation of people who are open to new Ideas and ways to make our country self sufficient. I cant believe you believe that Fracking hurts anything. You listen to the People who are trying to force some Green energy agenda down our throats . Fracking create thousands of Jobs and does not hurt the Environment . Cattle hurt the Environment more than anything on this Earth. Methane is the leading cause of ozone depletion. Next to that is Chlorine. Leave the State. We dont care. we want Jobs. Go to Alabama, and retire. Tired of listening to you old farts whine about shit you know nothing about.

  • Neal Schulman

    February 27, 2016 at 3:02 pm


Comments are closed.


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