Yesterday was an important day in the Florida Senate as the two key fracking bills sailed through with flying colors despite dozens of personal testimonies and hundreds of phone calls requesting otherwise. In each case the vote was six for and two against, along party lines, Republicans against Democrats.
Under the guise of more regulations, these bills took away the independence of counties and municipalities, prohibiting them from making their own choices in their own territories. They also protect the petroleum companies from divulging what poisons they may be injecting into our drinking water. They also, since it is now properly regulated by the DEP, tacitly say that fracking is OK.
It is unfathomable and incomprehensible that these elected lawmakers, some of whom purport to be defenders of Amendment 1 and Florida’s resources could so callously reject the spirit of 75% of last November’s voters, who told them in a clear voice that they want clean drinking water in Florida.
Tuesday in Senate Room 37, there was standing room only, and of the approximately 45 speakers, only four supported the bills. The dozens opposing the bills were speakers who had studied the issue, engineers, lawyers, physicians, professors, artists, environmentalists, educated, reasonable people with no monetary interest. They were speaking with logic, experience, science, and yes, emotion– a love for Florida.
So where does that leave our lawmakers, elected to represent the people, and who are mandated to protect our water resources? It leaves them in shame: Senator Charles Dean, Chair of this committee, Senator Wilton Simpson, Vice Chair, Senator Thad Altman, Senator Greg Evans, Senator Alan Hays, and Senator David Simmons. We must remember their names and their mindset toward what the voters want when election time comes up again. Senator Dean did not allow speakers to address SB 1468, only express support or opposition. This is the bill that denies citizens information to give to their physicians when sickened by undisclosed chemicals the DEP will now authorize to be injected into our earth and aquifer. In his closing comments, Sen. Altman said that he would support the bills because he believed that the DEP would surely not allow any harm to come to our resources.
Sen. Soto explained that Florida is not an energy state such as Texas or Pennsylvania, rather a state whose economy is based on tourism. Water is our natural attraction which would be threatened by fracking. In spite of Sen. Soto’s reasoned plea, our lawmakers did not listen. Our legislators failed us, pretending to be wise judges of what is best for Florida, and they decided that fracking is that.