When a fracking bill introduced in the Florida state senate was met with public outcry, senators dropped the measure before it was even debated. Many were concerned that the bill would potentially allow the oil and gas industry to explore fracking in the Everglades, and would have allowed oil companies to keep the toxic chemicals used in the fracking process a secret from the public. Fortunately, this time, the environment won out… for now.

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The bill, SB 318, was sponsored by Republican Garrett Richter. It would have allowed a state agency to regulate fracking and would not have allowed cities and counties to ban the practice, a right they currently retain. Richter said the bill would include precautions, such as a $1 million study to be conducted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

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Environmental groups disagreed. Kim Ross, head of Rethink Energy Florida and a leader in the group Floridians Against Fracking, said the bill was “deeply flawed.”

“It waived public disclosure laws so that the oil and gas industry could keep the toxic chemical it used in fracking a secret from the general public and set up a bogus study that lacked scientific rigor,” she said. “We know that fracking has been known to contaminate water resources, endanger public health, cause earthquakes, contribute to climate change, and keep us addicted to fossil fuels.”

Richter said the bill would have introduced stricter regulations which would have protected Florida in the future. “When prices go up oil companies will produce more oil in order to meet demand and that’s when we will see fracking again in this state. Our state is exposed to this activity currently and we need more regulation,” he said.

After the defeat, Richter said to The Guardian “This bill was a well-intended piece of legislation. I’d hoped to give our regulators more statutory tools to do their job, I wanted to see a stronger and more effective set of laws.” Meanwhile Ross feels the defeat of the bill is only a temporary victory for Florida. “Fracking should be banned in Florida period since it is inherently dangerous,” she said.

The Everglades are filled with a limestone bedrock that is very porous, and opponents of the bill were concerned that toxic chemicals resulting from fracking could seep through the limestone into the Biscayne Aquifer. The aquifer is the primary source of water for three million people across southern Florida.

Via The Guardian

Images via Chauncey Davis on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons