Photo: Jeff Burlew, via Tallahassee Democrat.
Thanks to Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River (pictured in blue shirts on left) and many others, a pro-fracking anti-open-records bill failed in the Florida legislature yesterday. WWALS helped persuade both its Florida counties, Madison and Hamilton, to pass anti-fracking resolutions, like so many other Florida counties did as OSFR tirelessly travelled the state. Bills in the Florida House and Senate to ban fracking outright did not pass. But neither did the fracking industry’s bill that would have exempt it from disclosure of its toxic chemicals, and would have prohibited local governments from banning fracking. No doubt the fossil fuel industry will be back next year with a Florida pro-fracking bill, but so will the opponents, with bills to ban fracking. And in another year, maybe Florida will catch on that when the Georgia legislature unanimously approved a solar financing bill, it’s time for the Sunshine State to put fracking behind it and get on with clean, safe, renewable sun, wind, and water power.
Orlando Sentinel, 29 April 2015, Florida fracking bill won’t pass this year,
Senators on Wednesday tabled a controversial bill about the oil and natural-gas drilling process known as “fracking,” ensuring the measure will not pass this year….
But critics objected to fracking in the state, including raising concerns about potential effects on groundwater. Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to create fractures in rock formations, which allows the release of natural gas and oil.
Here’s some of how bad that bill was. Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald, 23 April 2015, Florida Senate panel advances oil and gas fracking bill,
The measure, SB 1582, builds on legislation pending before the House and Senate that imposes new rules and penalties on oil and gas activities known as fracking, while banning local governments from prohibiting the controversial activity.
Both bills are heavily criticized by environmental groups, who warn that the proposed regulations are so narrowly written that they do not apply to chemical fracking, or acidization, which uses chemicals to dissolve rock rather than fracture it, a process they believe is most likely to be used in Florida because of its shallow rock bed.
“These bills are nothing more than Trojan Horse’ legislation that will pacify the public, while forbidding local residents to decide whether or not they want fracking in their community,” said Kim Ross of ReThink Energy Florida, an environmental advocacy group.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 11-7 for a public records exemption bill that allows oil and gas companies to appeal to a judge to avoid disclosing the chemicals used in the high-pressure fracking process, as required in two bills pending before the House and Senate, SB 1468 and HB 1205.
Under the proposal, the company could mark each page of its documents as a “trade secret” and the company would then have 30 days to go to court to get approval to shield the documents from the public. There is no limit as to how long the court can take to provide a response.
The measure protects the public because it “flips the burden on the owners of the information, rather than members of the public,” said Paula Cobb, assistant secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection.
But environmentalists and opponents warned that existing public records law already protects the public, and this instead provides a special shield for the industry not allowed for other industries.
If it wasn’t toxic, it wouldn’t be seeking a special shield. No fracking. Yes, sun, wind, and water power.