Linda Stewart thinks this time may be the charm for anti-fracking bill


Citing Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis‘ environmental platform, Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewartis taking another shot at getting oil and gas hydraulic fracturing, fracking, banned in the state of Florida.

Stewart filed SB 146 putting a fracking ban back on the Senate’s plate for the seventh or eighth time this decade, this time anticipating momentum and help from the governor’s office after DeSantis declared last summer during the campaign that he would oppose fracking in Florida.

“This time may well be the charm,” Stewart stated in a news release. “We’re about to inaugurate a governor whose environmental platform included a ban on fracking. We intend to hold Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis to that promise, and I’m sure he’ll be supportive of this good bill.”

Once again, the bill face stiff opposition, including that of the Florida Petroleum Council, which contends that it would be unnecessary and unwise to ban the technology, an oil and gas extraction technique in which drillers inject high-pressure water and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture the rock and thereby provide the drillers better access to oil and gas reserves.

It’s not currently performed in Florida but that doesn’t mean the technology should be dismissed, considering efforts to make the United States more energy independent, the council stated. FPC Executive Director David Mica contended that SB 146 goes way beyond a simple ban anyway, “and basically outlaws exploration for oil and gas in Florida.”

“We’ll look forward to working with her. We have not done so yet,” Mica said. “If she’s interested in looking at some proactive regulation or something that could enhance safety of exploration and production, we’ll be glad to work with her.”

Last year a Republican-backed bill to ban fracking made some progress in the Senate but died in the Appropriations Committee. A similar bill in the Florida House went nowhere.

Stewart’s bill is based on last year’s bill, which was sponsored by then-Sen.Dana Young. There is no companion bill in the House yet.

There has been a building grassroots opposition that has drawn local resolutions calling for bans in numerous cities and counties, now numbering 90 statewide, according to a release from Stewart’s office, and including Republican-dominated Seminole County.

Over the course of the 2018 statewide election campaigns all seven major candidates for governor including DeSantis declared opposition to fracking.

Stewart has been adamant in her opposition to fracking in Florida, charging that in other states the process has threatened or contaminated groundwater and other problems.

“Fracking poses a dangerous threat to our environment, especially here in Florida,” Stewart stated in the news release. “The fracking process involves a host of toxic chemicals injected in the extraction process which could contaminate the fresh water supply for millions of people and our wildlife. It’s just not worth the risks.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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