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Florida Senate Says No to No Fast-Tracking Oil and Gas Drilling on State Lands

| February 21, 2012

Not so fast. (Imahornfan)

A bill making it easier to drill for oil and gas on state lands hit the skids Tuesday as it failed to advance from a key Senate Committee that does not intend to meet again.

Facing multiple questions and concerns from environmental groups, state regulators and the governor’s office, the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee adjourned without taking action on SB 1158, a bill that would help a company seeking oil and gas on state lands including Blackwater River State Forest.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, said there were too many unanswered questions surrounding how the bill would affect the state’s ability to control what happens on environmentally sensitive land.

“Until those issues are clearly settled, I don’t think it’s feasible at this time to go into that type of program, Dean said.

State regulators already have a process to approve such activities on state-owned land. The bill however, would speed up the process by limiting the amount of time state regulators have to complete environmental impact reviews.

Further, the bill and its House companion, HB 695, would grant the company that did the exploration exclusive drilling rights within the permit region.

The bill drew fire from groups like Audubon of Florida, which worried that it could make it easier to drill in the Everglades as well as points farther north where Fairways Exploration and Production is exploring for oil.

Audubon said the company is seeking an agreement that would protect it from spending money to test for oil and then have competitors step in.

“It would have provided exclusivity to the exploration company, which would have kept the market from looking out for the public interest to make sure we’re getting our money’s worth,” said Julie Wraithmell. Audubon’s director of wildlife management.

Dale Patchett, a lobbyist for the company, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But the bill proved too heavy a lift for sponsor Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker., despite an amendment offered by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, that would have

restrict the bill’s impact on the northwest panhandle. The amendment and the bill were not heard.

“It’s dead until there is an agreement with other parties that have a concern,” Dean said. “We’re not having another meeting but I guess it could be voted out of another committee….It could be, but I doubt it.”

The House bill comes up before the State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

–Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida

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5 Responses for “Florida Senate Says No to No Fast-Tracking Oil and Gas Drilling on State Lands”

  1. some guy says:

    One more reason we are on the way to $5 a gallon gas and we let a nation like Iran build NUKES.

    • Liana G says:

      Don’t be taken in by all the spin. And why shouldn’t Iran have nukes?

      As gas prices rise, should US oil industry stop exporting? (By Ron Scherer, Staff writer / February 23, 2012 )

      “US gas prices are soaring and domestic demand is falling. The oil industry says it needs to export to stay in business and avoid layoffs. Others claim that keeps supply low and gas prices high.

      At the same time that the price of gasoline is rising, the US oil industry is increasing its exports of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

      Yes, you read that correctly.”…

  2. JIM.R says:

    The economy in Florida should be based on tourism and being Gods waiting room for seniors , not oil.
    As far as Iran’s nukes are concerned , what gives us the right to tell any other country what they can or can’t do, especially when we have thousands of nukes and are the only country to ever use one.

  3. agnese says:

    Gee, heaven help us for keeping our dollars at home!

  4. palmcoaster says:

    @JIM.R says: Perfectly presented, I applaud you! Maybe your words will remove the blinds from many pair of eyes.

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