New-Press

October 30, 2017

Time to ban fracking in Florida: Our view

By: Treasure Coast Newspapers editorial board

http://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/2017/10/30/time-ban-fracking-florida-our-view/812587001/

When will Florida lawmakers get the message?

Fracking is not welcome in the Sunshine State. 

Elected officials in dozens of municipalities and counties throughout Florida have passed resolutions opposing hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking). From Monroe County in the Florida Keys to Escambia County at the western edge of the Florida Panhandle — and many points in between — local governments have heeded the voices of their constituents and said, "Keep fracking out of here!" 

Unfortunately, despite widespread agreement at the local level, state legislators have resisted attempts to ban this specious practice. 

Will this year be different?

Let's hope so. 

Unlike other states that have gone down the "fracking" path — only to discover it is fraught with serious environmental consequences — Florida still has the opportunity to chart a better course.  

Fracking is the process of injecting highly pressurized fluids and materials deep into the ground to fracture shale for the purpose of releasing and extracting oil and natural gas. Potential impacts include contamination of ground water and surface water, air pollution and consumption of water resources.

In an attempt to spare Florida from the potential consequences of fracking, state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, has filed a bill (Senate Bill 462) that would ban the practice. Only two pages in length, SB 462 stipulates: "The performance of advanced well stimulation treatment is prohibited in this state."

This isn't the first time legislators have sought a ban.


Young introduced a similar bill during the previous legislative session. It failed.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, has filed several bills that would have imposed a temporary ban on fracking. For example, House Bill 191, filed in the 2016 Legislature, would have mandated a study by the Florida DePresto partmental of Environmental Protection to evaluate potential hazards and risks associated with fracking. It also would have created a chemical disclosure registry and required well operators to obtains permits before drilling. 

These are all positive steps. However, HB 191 also would have removed local governments' ability to regulate fracking by preempting this authority to the state.

Young and Rodrigues illustrate two different approaches in Tallahassee with respect to fracking: Ban it outright (Young) or allow it within a state-regulated framework (Rodrigues). 

A new report published in "Reviews on Environmental Health" found pollutants released during fracking could pose a health risk to infants and children.  

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Scientists have established a strong link between fracking and earthquakes in Texas. 

A December 2016 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found "scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances." These include: 

·         •Spills during the handling of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources.

·         Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources.

·         Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources.

·         Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water.

These potential impacts are particularly relevant in Florida. The Sunshine State has a high water table and the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing — several of which are known carcinogens — could contaminate water supplies.

Fracking also requires huge volumes of water for each well, and water is a precious commodity in our state. 

Why risk any of these potential consequences?

Ban fracking in Florida.