Following is the OSFR opinion piece run by Randi Atwood in today’s Tallahassee Democrat. Tomorrow is the last legislative session dealing with the controversial hydraulic fracturing process that is a threat to our aquifer. Everyone who occasionally drinks water should be concerned with this issue.
Fracking bills misleading, dangerous
Two controversial bills currently in legislation purport to regulate and protect the environment from fracking. In reality they would enact the opposite. Ray Rodrigues, Republican representative from Estero, sponsored HB 1205 and HB 1209 and has put out misleading information about them.
Rodrigues claims HB 1205 ensures that groundwater resources are not contaminated. This is totally misleading and impossible to do. Hundreds of cases of groundwater contamination resulting from fracking have been documented. Overwhelming evidence shows fracking to be unsafe and destructive and this is fact that Rodrigues and the DEP cannot change.
Rodrigues says these bills create a public disclosure of chemicals used during fracking. Not only is this a misleading statement, the opposite is written into the companion bills SB 1468 and SB 1582, and allows oil companies to withhold disclosure from the public. In reality the bill states: “Requires DEP to designate national chemical registry as the state’s registry.”
Although Rodrigues touts the fact that a study on fracking will be required, this is a delay of only a few months. There is no doubt as to the outcome of this study. The DEP has already said fracking is safe.
Rodrigues also writes: “This legislation sets up a stronger regulatory framework than is currently in place and ensures our environment is well-protected.” Under the guise of tough new regulations this legislation adds nothing new and it legitimizes fracking.
To say this legislation ensures protection for our environment is ridiculous. To imply or say that the DEP, under its current leadership, will ensure the protection of the environment is illogical. Fact in point: the DEP has allowed our springs to dry up and aquifer to fall for decades. Someone in truth has said that in Florida our resources protection agencies see their mission as to exploit the resources instead of to protect them.
Rodrigues fails to mention the wording in the bill that prohibits counties, municipalities or other political subdivisions of state from banning or regulating fracking in any fashion. However, Garrett Richter, a senator from Naples who sponsored the companion Senate bills (SB 1468 and SB 1582), extols this in a Tampa Tribune Online article as a virtue, saying “…drilling is a state issue and should be regulated at the state level.”
These two bills spell disaster for Florida and go totally against the will of the voters in Florida who just recently made into law Amendment 1. That our lawmakers in Tallahassee would allow this to happen cannot be from their wisdom as to what is good for Florida, nor can it be that they are trying to represent their constituents, since they received overwhelming feedback against these bills. Then why would they support these bills?
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson is president of Our Santa Fe River and Save Our Suwannee. Jim Tatum is OSFR historian. Both live in Fort White.
Graphics courtesy of Ana Tinsly