Last year, we saw a historic win for people power when Maryland passed a statewide fracking ban under a Republican Governor. While support for a ban in the Sunshine State has always been strong, it looks like this year could be the year Florida joins Maryland, New York, and Vermont for a full statewide ban.
The big news of the day: the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee voted unanimously in favor of a ban bill in the Florida Senate, which is an incredible bipartisan victory that could be the first of many more wins to come.
A Strong Start
If you’re not up to date on Florida politics, there are a LOT of communities that want to protect their water, their health, the climate, and the Everglades from dirty fracking. In the state, 90 communities (including more than 30 counties) have passed local measures opposing unconventional oil drilling. Permits to drill are currently being explored in the Panhandle and Southwest Florida, but they face heavy opposition.
Concerned communities are constantly on guard: because of loopholes in Florida law, a company can easily turn a permit for conventional oil drilling into one that allows them to use the more intensive and dangerous unconventional drilling techniques with little oversight or public notice.
Momentum for a statewide ban has been growing for years. And this year? Shepherded in by environmental champions Senator Dana Young and Representative Kathleen Peters, ban bills were introduced in the state Senate and House with bipartisan support.
On Monday, by a 10-0 vote, the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee led by Senator Rob Bradley passed the Senate bill (SB 462) to prohibit "advanced well stimulation," commonly known as fracking.
The vote was significant: Senator Bradley had been reluctant on holding a vote in his committee over the past year. But after hearing from dozens of local groups and hundreds of his local residents, including a few that put out the "Bradley signal," Senator Bradley ended up voting 'yes' on the bill to ban fracking.
The bill will now move to the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. We believe that such strong leadership in the Florida Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation committee is indicative of what we can expect as the bill continues to move forward. This could really be the year that Florida finally bans fracking.
In order to do this, we need powerful officials like House Speaker Richard Corcoran to stop listening to special interests and lobbyists and finally act to ban fracking in the state.
Fracking Just Isn’t Safe
There are many reasons why fracking isn’t safe -- the threat of water contamination, the thousands of accidents, leaks and spills that have already occurred, the disruption of local communities, and the massive impact it has in worsening climate change are just a few. Just recently, a Duke study on fracking in Pennsylvania found high levels of radium in river and stream sediment located downstream from the discharge areas of oil wastewater treatment facilities.
And in Florida, sensitive ecosystems like the Everglades mean that fracking is even more dangerous. Drilling through Florida’s porous limestone bedrock could threaten the only source of drinking water for three million south Florida residents. Big Oil has been flooding elected officials with campaign donations to drown out the call for a ban, but it’s no wonder that communities that have already banned fracking represent almost 75 percent of Florida residents.
Floridians are ready for groundbreaking environmental legislation and now it’s clear the legislature is ready too. This is the year Florida finally passes a ban and ends the longstanding controversy once and for all!