Friday, November 6, 2015

Fracking Bill Passed by House Subcommittee on Party Line Vote

A bill that would pave the way for fracking in Florida passed a House Subcommittee last week.

HB 191 Regulation of Oil and Gas by Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero) passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee 9-4 on Tuesday, Nov. 3, despite 39 speakers representing at least 15 organizations opposing the bill.  Organizations against the bill included the Florida AFL-CIO, Sierra Club Florida, ReThink Energy, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The only supporters of the bill were the Florida Petroleum Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Associated Industries of Florida.

These members (all Democrats) voted NO on the bill and deserve a thank you call!  Please contact them and let them know you appreciate their standing up for you.

Rep. Katie Edwards   (Broward)                  850-717-5098

Rep. Bobby DuBose  (Broward)                   850-717-5094

Rep. Larry Lee           (St. Lucie)                  850-717-5084

Rep. Clovis Watson  (Alachua and Marion) 850-717-5020

All nine Republicans on the committee voted for the bill.

Your Representative and Senator will be in the home district this week.  It’s a great time to let them know that you - a constituent - are very concerned about these bad fracking bills.  For a full set of talking points and more details please see the Action Alert here:  (scroll down to the Alert posted October 30, 2015.)

Find your legislator’s contact and address information here:

HB 191 next goes to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources followed by the State Affairs Committee.  Watch for alerts to know when to contact the members of those committees.

The Senate companion, SB 318 by Sen. Richter (Collier and Lee) has not been heard in committee yet but we expect it to come up soon, so please watch for alerts on that bill too.

Why the bill is so bad:

The breadth of opposition to the bill reflects how bad it is.  Not only does it preempt local communities from adopting or enforcing regulations - including zoning - that interfere with anything to do with oil and gas (not just fracking), it also uses a definition that excludes acid fracking techniques which are most likely to be used in Florida because of our limestone and dolomite geology.  Therefore, the bill exempts acid treatments from any new regulation - there’s none in the bill and none will be allowed by local governments.

Also, citizens will not be able to find out what toxic chemicals are being injected into the ground because they can be hidden from them by way of the Trade Secrets Act (Chapter 688 of the Florida Statutes.)  First responders and medical personnel will not have the information either.  (At the federal level, first responders and medical personnel can get trade secret information when dealing with employees injured on the job but there is no provision for that in HB 191 or in Chapter 688.)

Sponsor Rodrigues claims fracking won’t be permitted until a study called for in the bill is complete and any impacts on aquifers are addressed in rulemaking.  But the bill does not link permitting to the study.  Also, the study is limited to the same very narrow definition of “high-pressure well stimulation” that excludes acid treatments.

Click here for a News Service of Florida article about the fracking vote.