TALLAHASSEE, FL – Fracking, the controversial drilling technique that has contaminated water supplies nationwide, was kept at bay in Florida today after Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) abandoned his bill to promote it. The measure, Senate Bill 318, had been up for reconsideration 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 senators have 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 future 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 in Florida, in which acid is pumped into wells to dissolve limestone and stimulate the flow of oil and gas.
“Fracking has polluted our water and 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 had 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 action likely killed the pro-fracking measure for good.
“Floridians spoke out for our water and our natural environment, and our senators listened,” said Rubiello. “Today marks a victory for our drinking water, our health, and the countless Floridians who made their voices heard."