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It is now documented that fracking, which uses huge amounts of water, has been known to contaminate drinking water resources. In North Florida, where our springs are being depleted, we should not be giving away water to the oil and gas industries when we could be using solar instead.
Recently, state Rep. Kathleen Peters of Treasure Island filed HB 237 to ban fracking, and state Sen. Dana Young of Tampa filed the Senate companion bill SB 462. These bills are identical in language to those filed last year, but didn’t make it through, even though they had bipartisan support from nearly one half the Senate and one third of the House.
Two common arguments used to oppose the bills heard last year are completely unfounded — the idea we should “study it more” and claim the legislation violates property rights.
Stalling under the guise of further study fools no one. The impacts of fracking and the accompanying wastewater have been documented to death.
As the Baltimore Sun reported, “There are now over 900 publications on the effects of fracking — on air, water, soil, animal and human health, earthquakes and on methane’s contribution to climate disruption, another public health threat. Of the health studies in this body of work, 84 percent demonstrate clear associations between unconventional gas development and public health harms.”
The bills speak only to hydraulic well stimulation and no other mineral rights. A measure touted by pro-frackers as protecting the mineral rights of individuals, Florida’s Bert J. Harris Act of 1995, has no application to fracking. This act is often brandished about by proponents of the oil and gas industry for the purpose of intimidation.
Documents addressing the act, written by prominent lawyers Randall Denker of Tallahassee and Paul Boudreaux of Stetson University College of Law, more than adequately show the ineffectiveness and inappropriateness of this act in regard to fracking. As Denker points out, 90 counties and cities in Florida (representing almost 75 percent of state residents) have passed ordinances and resolutions opposing fracking in Florida, and there has not been one successful Bert Harris Act lawsuit.
Nutrient depletion is just one more reason to support the bills, along with the fact that fracking sometimes causes earthquakes, contaminates well water, leaks methane underground and into the air, produces toxic wastewater that cannot be reclaimed, and commits us to long-term fossil fuel dependence when we could be moving onward to the inevitable switch to clean, sustainable solar and wind energy sources.
We can all do our small part by contacting our representatives in Tallahassee and urging them to support HB 237 and SB 462. Passing these bills will give us just a bit more protection from further degradation of our great state.
Jim Tatum is a board member and historian for Our Santa Fe River. He lives near Fort White.
*AP photo/Keith Srakocic