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Politics

Bill to Regulate Fracking Gets Green Light in House

January 27, 2016 - 6:00pm

Fracking inched one step closer to becoming a reality in Florida Wednesday when the Florida House of Representatives passed a pro-fracking bill by a vote of 73-45.

HB 191, sponsored by Reps. Ray Rodrigues and Cary Pigman, would prohibit localized counties from banning fracking, a drilling process which recovers oil and gas from shale rock. 

The bill would also require the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study on the impact fracking would have on Florida. The department would then write rules regulating fracking after the study had been completed. Regulations would begin in 2017.

Drillers would need to obtain permits before beginning fracking. Anyone violating the legislation would be fined $25,000 a day per violation. Fracking supporters say the process is good for the economy since it increases oil production, driving down gas prices and giving gas security in countries where fracking is allowed. 

Republican lawmakers onboard with the legislation said the proposal was just a way to regulate the industry, since fracking is already allowed in the Sunshine State. 

But environmentalists and opponents of the bill say fracking could have dire consequences for the people of Florida, putting millions of lives at risk as a result of the process. They say fracking would be harmful for people and the environment, potentially posing health problems by contaminating groundwater.

“It should be called the Anything For Money bill,” said Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. 

Slosberg and House Democrats slammed the bill, citing fears for their constituents’ and their families’ lives.

"There are many things about this bill that disturb me,” said Rep. Bobby DuBose, D-Fort Lauderdale. "As a parent, I have a responsibility to protect my family, as we all do."

The bill’s supporters, however, said the legislation was merely a regulatory bill and another example of a controversy state lawmakers face as just another part of their jobs. 

"The controversies we face...aren't new,” said Rep. Rodrigues, alluding to the introduction of electricity, modern cars and the Kennedy Space Center as some examples of environmental issues the Florida Legislature has tackled and passed, changing the lives of average Floridians for the better.

Ultimately, the bill passed on party lines. The bill’s passage was four years and 17 committee meetings in the making.

Associated Industries of Florida Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs Brewster Bevis chimed in on the legislation, applauding state lawmakers for voting to approve it.

“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.

Kevin Doyle, Florida executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance, commended Rodrigues and Pigman for their sponsorship of HB 191.

Supporting the safe, responsible development energy will create a welcoming environment for the Florida economy and consumers," Doyle said in a prepared statement. "Energy is a key ingredient in everything we do as a state, and we need to promote policies that support expanded responsible development of American resources.
 
"We can protect our environment while also promoting energy development and security. The votes today are a good step in that direction and we look forward to monitoring this legislation as it now advances to the Florida Senate.  We also commend Sen. Garrett Richter for his sponsorship of the Senate version of this legislation."

The bill still needs to pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Rick Scott before it becomes law.

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments

As a Broward County resident and member of the Davie/Cooper City Democratic Club, I was horrified tosee that this bill had been passed. We have had speaker upon speaker at our meetings. all of whom are well informed about water problems and damaging the Everglades, our most important asset and an historical site hosting various animals and birds. Please keep special interest groups and private investors from our state. Other states have already had disastrous experiences with frakking. LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE, PLEASE

When will the voters of Florida learn that voting Republican is against the State's best interest. But this Right Leaning site sees nothing wrong with it. Liberal Media?

This is a very sad and dangerous situation. It is clear that "our" representatives can be bought by the fossil fuel industry and the citizens be damned. Our environment is quickly being destroyed and this legislation only increases the destruction and additional hazards to our precious water resources and overall environment. Have our legislators not become aware of the exponential increase of earthquakes in Oklahoma due to fracking? Have they not become aware of the groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania and New York due to fracking? As we are now the third most populated State in the nation and rapidly growing, as well as dependent on our aquifers for drinking water, this legislation has opened the door to tremendous health and environmental destruction.

I believe fracking is a threat to our ecosystem Charles Frederick Tolbert EdD Candidate for US Senate Florida 2016 Retired MSGT Pastor

Do the fools in our legislature not watch the news or read the paper? Have they not heard what is going on in Oklahoma with the high incidence of earthquakes directly related to fracking? Greed will kill us all!

Two Florida fracking bills are being swept through the legislature as fast as possible. HB191 preempts local municipalities from banning fracking. Citizen time to speak against this bill was cut to 30 seconds each. People from as far away as PA came to speak, some brought their polluted water to show. HB191 authorizes $1 million for testing by the Florida DEP, an amount woefully inadequate but also totally unnecessary since multiple studies have shown that fracking brings contaminated ground water, poisoned air, increased ozone, exposure to carcinogenic benzene, and increased global warming. The Florida DEP has been completely overhauled by the governor, which forced several of the high ranking environmentalists to resign. Florida will be getting fracked soon.

This is not good news for the future of Florida.

Bad for Florida, bad for political future of all in Florida Legislature who vote to proceed on this.

Ground water and Fracking waste water should be a HUGE concern to the citizens of Florida. Municipalities should be allowed to ban Fracking in their areas.

I would like to see an up or check on this site like there is on other sites.

The oil and gas companies paid / bribed Fl. legislators $443,000 since last year for the privilege to poison Fl. citizens . This is YOUR Republican "REPRESENTATIVES " doing. If your community decides it doesn't want drilling or fracking in nearby areas- too late. Your REPRESENTATIVES have ensured that no local objections are possible. The oil & drilling companies have bought the farm -literally.

The only bill needed? No Fracking... Anything else is a sellout to the energy companies and every politician involved needs to be voted out...

I am also a Republican and am sorry to see anything involving drilling and Florida

Goes to show how corrupt repubs are. And how fast they through local control away when it gets in corporation's way.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------They did it to the water/farm bill.

As a registered Republican I am VERY sorry to see this bill moving forward without verifiable protections written within and because of that leaving our beautiful coasts unprotected.

It isn't so much our coasts that are unprotected, but our groundwater. Call your House member to complain, and call your Senator to tell him or her to Vote Against the bill.

Comments are now closed.

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