A bill that would provide statewide regulation for fracking and toss out a long list of opposing local resolutions will be discussed Tuesday on the House floor, and it will see plenty of opposition from Democrats who filed amendments.
HB 191, sponsored by state Rep. Ray Rogrigues, R-Estero, would create a permitting process supervised by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that was created by a $1 million study. The bill also pre-empts a long line of opposing resolutions passed by county and city governments.
Monday, state Rep. Evan Jenne, R-Dania Beach, said the bill was written with no regard for the safety of Floridians.
“We have science on our side,” Jenne said. “We have the data and the facts that show why fracking and this bill is bad for this state.”
Jenne said he and other Democrats would file amendments to change Rodrigues’ bill. So far, Democrat House members have filed 27 amendments, three of which change language that would pre-empt local opposition and at least one that would put fracking up for referendum. Another amendment would hold lawmakers responsible if fracking leads to injury or death.
Influential House Republicans are also uneasy about Rodrigues’ bill. State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said he was working with the bill sponsors.
“I have grave concerns that the sponsors are working to address,” Gaetz said.
Late Friday night, Rodrigues and Senate companion SB 318 sponsor Garrett Richter, R-Naples, came to an agreement with the Florida League of Cities and Florida Association of Counties on an amendment that would provide local governments with limited say in the fracking process. Under the amendment, with passed a Monday Senate committee and will be up for House floor discussion today, local governments could enforce when fracking operations take place to protect neighboring property. However, that enforcement cannot stop the actual fracking process.
Fracking is an oil and gas drilling process where an acid mixture is applied at high pressure to sandstone. The state DEP currently operates under law that permits for the drilling but it failed to stop the Texas-based Dan A. Hughes Co. from operating near homes in western Collier County, on the edge of the Everglades. The company eventually stopped and it received a $25,000 fine, but the incident led Richter to file his regulatory bill last year. The bill died with the abrupt end to last year’s session.