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Florida Lawmakers Drilling the Way for Fracking Even as Need Is Questioned

| January 19, 2016

fracking florida

Does Florida need this? Fracking fluid and other drilling wastes are dumped into an unlined pit located right up against the Petroleum Highway in Kern County, California. (Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking)

By Marc Yacht

The assault on Florida’s environment continues as a Senate committee last week approved a bill that would make it easier for companies to use fracking technology to drill for oil and gas in the state.


Lest we forget, the administration of Gov. Rick Scott has ordered the words “climate change” scrubbed from official speeches and releases. The governor has politicized the Florida Department of Environment Protection (DEP) and weakened its authority to regulate polluters.

Now Scott and his Republican legislators hope to allow drillers to use hydraulic fracturing — fracking. In a state so concerned about protecting its natural resources, does it make any sense?

The bill would allow blasting deep underground to release more gas and oil. Currently and for some time to come, there is plenty of fossil fuels. Falling prices show the oversupply. The money spent on fracking should be used to research and develop alternative fuels.

Those favoring fracking stress that it cuts our use of coal, which is a particularly dirty fuel. Burning coal generates 29 percent of our nation’s electricity, but it contributes to the death of thousands of people annually. In contrast, natural gas is a relatively clean fuel.

Well-run drilling operations, which extract oil and gas from thousands of feet underground, have a good safety record. But cracks created by the process may release pollutants into groundwater or the atmosphere.

context floridaProponents argue that fracking improves air quality, decreases our dependence on foreign oil, lowers taxes and increases returns on investments.

Opponents contend that air quality improvements are overstated. More research is needed to understand fracking’s potential health impact on people who live near the wells.

Some people who live near fracking sites say that their tap water has been contaminated. Some claim water has become bubbly and flammable. Others just don’t trust the drilling companies. They claim studies are hidden and accidents are covered up. They point to corporate misconduct in the tobacco, pharmacy and automobile industries.

Fracking requires a huge amount of water and opponents say the process compromises water resources. They also complain that heavy trucks tear up roads and rigs blight the view. They question whether companies will clean up drill sites after the wells are abandoned.

Wise legislators know that gas and oil are in abundance and that alternative fuels are becoming more affordable.

Florida is flat and low and its environment can be damaged easily. Yet the Scott Administration and the Legislature are eager to allow more drilling and development there.

The Florida Senate and Environmental and Conservation Committee approved SB318 last week. It now goes to the Appropriations subcommittee on General Government.

There is no need for hydraulic fracturing; there is no need for Florida coastal or inland gas and oil exploration. There is a need to leave the state’s magnificent coast and pristine Everglades alone.

Marc Yacht is a semi-retired physician living in Hudson, Fla. He was director of the Pasco County Health Department until 2007.

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11 Responses for “Florida Lawmakers Drilling the Way for Fracking Even as Need Is Questioned”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    Keep voting in conservative Republicans and you get what you deserve … a dirty, polluted state. Nice!

  2. Kevin says:

    This method of oil and gas exploration has had severe consequences in regions of the country with less vulnerable geology than Florida (increased seismic activity in OK, TX and OH). These methods in Florida will likely result in more frequent and greater sinkholes, contamination of our groundwater supplies and runoff pollution into our estuaries killing off the manatees, birds and other wildlife. The irony of ironies is that the effort to increase solar power in the state couldn’t muster the support to make it onto this year’s ballot but the lobbyists and deep pockets of the oil and gas industry can slam this down the throats of our citizens. Amazing what clout money can buy.

  3. confidential says:

    Keep voting Republicans and this is what you get in Florida! The total raping of our still pristine Sunshine State.

  4. tulip says:

    I am so AGAINST fracking, especially in Florida!!!! We already have problems with unstable soil conditions which cause many sinkholes around the state. It would seem to me that fracking would further destroy the stability, as our soil is layered with limestone on top of water. Also other parts of the country are in earthquake zones, avalances etc. Disturbing that land can cause even more of these things to occur.

    Secondly, we keep hearing about how Florida should be conserving water while they still let bottling companies come here, take millions of gallons a day from us to sell elsewhere at a profit. Meanwhile the State tells the residents to conserve because we could run out of water? Now the state is willing to let a fracking company take even more to get a little bit of oil to make more money and, at the same time destroy the land and lifestyle of those who live here. Would they repair the mess they make? I doubt it cause that would eat into their profits from fracking.

    People need to start investigating and reading about other areas that have been fracked and see what problems were caused before just jumping in and okaying this project.

    Gov Scott was elected even though it was known he committed major medical fraud against Medicare. He continued on to be a poor governor, but people voted him in a second time and now he wants fracking and doesn’t believe in climate change and had those words “scrubbed” (to use Pierre’s words”). Sounds like an Obama trick to me—just make decisions and to heck with anyone else.

    Fracking Gov Scott has been, and still is, bad news and can’t wait until he is gone.

  5. RAKA says:

    SUGGEST VIEWING OF HBO GASLAND AND GASLAND 2 FOR VIEWING THE DEVASTATION CAUSED BY FRACKING IN COLORADO AND PENNSYLVANIA. IT IS UNBELIEVEABLE.

  6. L.D.Ablo says:

    Hey Gov. Scott go frack yourself.

  7. Fredrick says:

    You can thank the US pursuit of fracking for the current low prices. This happens every time we seek to become less dependent on foreign oil (besides trying to force everyone into a Prius which is not going to happen until the technology improves). We pursue another route to be able to supply ourselves and the middle east blinks and oversupplies to make fracking not economical. While the fracking industry shuts down, oil will start creeping up again and at some point fracking will become viable again and the cycle will repeat.

    Confidential I suggest you jump in your Prius and go hug a tree. “Climate change” has been around since the earth came to be and will continue after we are all gone. Until the liberals start including that in their message and be honest about it, the other side is going to say that “man” have no effect on “climate change”. We should take care of mother earth because it is the right thing for us to do, not because of a BS story that we are the one causing the change. Be honest with your story and maybe the other side will listen.

  8. Rocky Pines says:

    Though I haven’t hugged a tree in years, I tend to cut down the dead ones for firewood, I do jump into a Prius daily and drive in excess of 25,000 miles annually. My current odometer reads 230,631 miles all driven with a mileage of 44-52 mpg. Not bad for unimproved technology. The only maintenance is an oil filter and 3 1/2 quarts of oil every 6.000 miles.

    As a matter of fact a lot of folks actually content that technology like the Prius and others similar are what’s driving the demand for for fossil fuels down.

    I followed the fracking debate in upstate New York and Pennsylvania for years and when the frackiing industry decides to be HONEST with the homeowners and disclose the type of chemicals and quantities used in the process and ensure no contamination of ground water supplies then maybe more people would listen to your side of the story.

  9. Wshful Thinking says:

    Thanks Flagler Live once again for being ‘ on top”…. – I am going to add SB318 to my Florida Senate tracking I signed up for..If it passes all committees and gets to the ‘floor’ hopefully enough sane people will speak up in Tallahassee to try to ‘drown’ this insane bill. Homes are still subject to blasting destruction in South Florida because of the ‘rock miners’ who blast and sell out of state as well as Florida – tax free I believe and Tallahassee has taken all control away from local officials where it is happening in Miami-Dade county…and made ‘blasting a state only issue’ We could face the same fate with this fracking that the poor people down south are fighting right now… Let’s keep a close eye and watch the progression of this bill and contact all committee members who have yet to vote yay or nay…

  10. sandyo says:

    Several organizations locally are planning to sue individual lawmakers if / when fracking results in dumping of residual chemicals or oil etc any place in Florida.

    What does the legislature have to say on that?

  11. Marc Andelman says:

    It is unbelievable how poorly Florida’s Republicans represent the state. You can see all around the effects of sea level rise, yet, the state’s leadership denies global warming. Fracking in Florida would be completely crazy. The underground geology is full of holes like Swiss cheese, so waste water injected underground in one place can come up anywhere. This is the sunshine state, so, the need is to promote solar. The oil industry is completely incompatible with Florida’s tourist economy. It is a dying industry that will to sink Florida under the waves unless alternative energy sources are put into wide use now. Who wants to go out in a boat and see oil derricks on the horizon? Enjoy natural Florida, and, if you travel by sea, you will need a boat. Travel slow to save fuel and protect wildlife. A sailboat under sail is the greenest way to travel A fine collection of charter boats to rent in Miami and Key West may be found at http://onboat.co/miami-yacht-charter/

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