Tallahassee, FL – Fracking, the controversial drilling technique that uses chemicals to break up rock and stimulate the flow of oil and gas, was kept at bay in Florida today after Sen. Richter (R-Collier County) abandoned his bill, Senate Bill 318, to promote it. The measure had been up for reconsideration today after a bipartisan group of Senators defeated it last Thursday in committee.
“Fracking would threaten our drinking water and the Everglades, and that’s why this bill has drawn wide, bipartisan opposition from every corner of our state,” said Jennifer Rubiello, Environment Florida state director. “We’re delighted that today senators sided with the clean water and natural beauty that makes Florida famous, not with the narrow interests of the oil and gas polluters.”
Florida law is currently silent on fracking, but SB 318 would have changed that by creating a loose set of statewide regulations for the inherently dangerous drilling technique. Perhaps most importantly for the oil and gas industry, the bill also would have nullified existing ordinances that prohibit fracking and preempted all local bans.
The senate measure was intended to pave the way for hydraulic fracturing as well as “matrix acidizing,” the type of fracking most likely to occur in Florida, in which acid is pumped into wells to dissolve limestone and stimulate the flow of oil and gas.
“Fracking has contaminated water supplies, polluted the air, and marred landscapes across the country,” said Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling program director for Environment America, Environment Florida’s national federation. “The only safe way to regulate fracking is to stop it before it starts.”
The bill had drawn widespread opposition from citizens, more than 80 counties and cities, environmental groups, labor groups, and even a class of fifth graders who testified last week in committee. Every county represented on the Senate’s 19-member Appropriations Committee has registered opposition to the bill.
The Senate bill's counterpart, HB 191, had already cleared the Florida House. But with less than two weeks left of the legislative session, today’s defeat of of SB 318, made it unlikely, though not impossible, that a bill would pass this year.
“Floridians spoke out for their water and our natural environment, and their senators listened,” said Rubiello. “We’re thrilled to see this dangerous legislation defeated, and for the sake our drinking water and our health, we hope it’s for good!”