Florida House Passes Fracking Regulation Bill
The Florida House passed a bill Monday to study and regulate fracking, as well as prevent local governments from banning the oil and gas drilling practice.
Democrats strongly opposed the bill, saying hydraulic fracturing would put the water supply at risk and the practice should instead be banned. But Republicans said fracking isn't regulated right now and the bill would ensure that it's done safely.
"This bill puts safety and control mechanisms in order for us as the Legislature and the people of the state of Florida to know what's being put in the ground," said Republican Rep. Frank Artiles. "Your vote 'no' on this bill is going to allow fracking to go on as the wild, wild West."
Fracking is the process of shooting a mix of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to fracture rock formations and release oil and gas trapped inside. Many local governments around the country have sought to ban the practice. That wouldn't be allowed in Florida if the legislation passes.
The bill would require the state to study the effects of fracking in Florida, particularly because of its unique geography. Proponents said fracking wouldn't be allowed until after the study and until the Department of Environmental Protection writes rules for the industry.
The bill (HB 1205) would also require drilling companies to list the chemicals they're using.
But Democratic Rep. Evan Jenne said it's a bad idea to pump chemicals deep into the ground in a drilling process that goes straight through the state's aquifer. He said among the chemicals used are the same ones that remove warts, bleach hair, clean brake lines and make laundry detergent.
"There has been contamination in every single state — every single state — where fracking has taken place," Jenne said. "It's wrong for our tourism, it's wrong for our ag community and it's wrong for our water legacy."
Democratic Rep. John Cortes pointed out that the proposal comes just months after Florida voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to conserve land and water.
"The wanted clean water and land," he said. "Why are we going backwards."