Disappointment reigned in Tallahassee today when the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee met to debate and vote on HB 191, the bill written by the petroleum industry to promote fracking. So confident were the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Rodrigues and Rep. Pigman and co-sponsored by Rep. Broxson, of its passing, they did not even call on oil lobbyist David Mica to speak, nor representatives from the DEP to assure the safety of fracking, as they have done in the past.
Cleanly down the partisan lines, the three Democrats, Reps. Powell, Rodríguez and Watson, all voted to stop this bill, with Jacobs not voting, and all Republicans supported the bill. Rep. Mayfield had many concerns but voted party lines.
Intelligent and courageous comments were made at length by Rep. José Javier Rodríguez, never to be confused with Ray Rodrigues, who seemed to be one of three committee members who actually saw the bill for what it is, calling it a”welcome mat for fracking.” He used that metaphor three times. He did say that he could not support something of which his constituents had expressed disapproval. He seemed to be one of few committee members who even thought about the wishes of those who put him in office.
Ironically, even Ray Rodrigues, principal sponsor of the bill, has two cities in his district that have passed resolutions against fracking. Are Rodrigues’ real or perceived rewards from the industry so strong that he turns a deaf ear toward those who elected him to represent them?
Given this deaf ear so many have, we might assume that these committee members represent their own interests and not those of the voters who elected them.
Continuing with Rep. Rodríguez, he further pointed out the dangers of health, quality of life, fiscal repercussion of clean-ups, and damage to the environment.
This bill had such strong support, as mentioned above, those pushing it had so much confidence in its passing that they did not bother trying to impress anyone with its virtues. The dangers, on the other had were expressed by many, even though none was an “expert” as defined by Rep. Combee, (a non-existant entity as described by him) many cited true experts in their fields: engineering, geologists, scientists, climatologists, physicians, and so forth. Giving evidence to the dangers of fracking were, among others, engineers, university professors, physicians, scientists, union representatives, mothers, environmentalists, fathers and concerned citizens who intelligently can read and form conclusions. Some of these people got up very early and traveled very far to express their thoughts.
Several committee members supported the item of the “study” mentioned in the bill. Those who spoke against the bill have looked at many studies. Studies have been done. A whole lot of studies have been done. The committee members have only to Google fracking and they will find dozens upon dozens. And just about all will point out dangers with fracking. As one intelligent man said today, “those who do the study will have in mind the result that the FDEP and the oil industry would like to see. Can you guess what the result of the study would be?”
Indeed, what are the chances the study will agree with the scientific and academic studies and say we don’t want fracking in Florida?
To see the video of this subcommittee please go to http://thefloridachannel.org