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Jennifer Rubiello,
Environment Florida

Hundreds Gather in Tallahassee to Urge Ban on Fracking, Support for Solar Energy, and Clean Water Protection

Environmental, social justice, labor, business groups, and legislators show wide support for permanent fracking ban, renewable energy production, and water protection

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- Today, hundreds of Floridians gathered together in the state capitol to urge elected officials to pass a fracking ban, commit to increasing renewable energy sources, and protect our waterways.

The diverse group, including State Senator Jack Latvala, State Senator Gary Farmer, State Senator Dana Young, State Representative Heather Fitzenhagen, members of Environment Florida, ReThink Energy Florida, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, Floridians Against Fracking, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Organize Florida, Florida Conservation Voters, and others cited over 900 health studies for why fracking has no place in the Sunshine State.

"Banning fracking in Florida is one of the best things we can do to protect our treasured waterways, public health, and economy," said State Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater). "I stand with the 90 cities and counties in Florida that have passed ordinances or resolutions calling on us, the State Legislature, to pass this important legislation."

Nationwide opposition to hydraulic fracturing has escalated dramatically over the past year as public awareness of its impacts grows.

“The time has finally come to end this dangerous practice,” said State Senator Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale). “This bill represents the now bipartisan recognition that Florida's unique geological makeup leaves our water supply particularly vulnerable and must be protected.”

The gathering follows introduction of a bicameral, bipartisan fracking ban bill in the Florida Legislature with widespread support. Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) introduced the bill into the Senate. Representative Mike Miller (R-Orlando) introduced the House ban bill on the same day. Both ban bills have received overwhelming bipartisan support, garnering dozens of cosponsors from around the state.

Students from Cornerstone Learning Community in Tallahassee attended in support of the legislation as well.

“We, as the future generation, understand how important it is to protect our water, animals, and environment from the dangers of fracking," said Claire Encinosa, a 5th grader speaking on behalf of her class at the Cornerstone Learning Community.“Fracking will not just pollute our world but also make us sick, cause birth defects, and even cancer. We want the Florida Legislature to ban fracking for the future."

Advocates also called for strong, common-sense implementation of Amendment 4, the pro-solar initiative 73% of voters passed last August, which makes it easier for businesses to implement solar energy.

“With the overwhelming support of Amendment 4, the doors are wide open for solar power in the Sunshine State,” said Clifford Mitchem, Independent Energy Adviser for CREW, a member-owned solar cooperative. “It’s now up to our legislators to help us walk through the door.”

After this year’s toxic algae outbreaks, just as many are calling for the preservation and protection of our precious water resources.

“Business as usual will drain our aquifers and poison what’s left,” said Burt Eno, president of Rainbow River Conservation. “We must balance our water permits with monitoring to ensure users don’t take too much water, and we need to better manage fertilizer, industrial, and stormwater runoff to avoid polluting our waters.”

Following the rally, constituents will meet with their elected officials in support of SB 442/HB 451 “Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment,” SB 90/HB 1411 “Renewable Energy Source Devices,” and SB 1700 “Water Management;” and in opposition to HB 17/1158/751/1378 “Home Rule Preemption,” and SB 1238/HB 1043 “Utility Investments in Gas Reserves.” One additional bill, HB 1351 “Renewable Energy Source Devices,” requires amending because it contains language outside of what Floridians voted on in 2016.

“Floridians continue to call on their elected officials to pass legislation banning fracking, promoting renewable energy, and protecting our vital clean water supplies,” said Kim Ross, president of ReThink Energy Florida. “From the Keys, to Tampa, Jacksonville, and Gainesville -- hundreds of Floridians are here to inspire our leaders to reclaim Florida’s future, environment, and health.”