Climate

Bill Banning Fracking Bans Gets Shut Down In Florida Senate

CREDIT: AP Photo/J Pat Carter

Sunbathers in Key Biscayne, Fla.

It wouldn’t have been the first time something like this happened. People in small towns and counties get together, vote, and agree to ban fracking. And then the state legislature comes in and passes a ban on bans.

But not this time.

The Florida Senate’s Appropriations Committee has finally killed a bill that would have stopped towns from banning fracking, a week after the committee voted the measure down by a 10-9 vote. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Garrett Richter (R) made a motion Tuesday to not consider the bill.

“This is a controversial subject. The controversy will continue, and I daresay it will draw even more concerns,” Richter said. “I can pretty much assure you demand (for oil and gas) is not going to go away, but Senate Bill 318 is going away.”

Every senator on the committee represents a county that has opposed the bill, numerous sources reported.

A House version of the bill passed that chamber in January. And, in fact, this is the second time a bill to ban fracking bans has passed the House and then died in the Senate.

Environmentalists in the Sunshine State celebrated the decision Tuesday and called for more protections of Florida’s water. During hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, large amounts of chemical-laced water is injected at high pressure into underground oil or gas reservoirs. The process has been linked to water contamination, methane leaks, and explosions. Ohio, Texas, and Oklahoma have all made it illegal to ban fracking.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the health and safety of families throughout the state as well as everything that makes Florida run — tourism, agriculture and fishing,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement. “However, the legislature’s job isn’t done. Even today, dangerous practices like acid fracking could still move forward in the future and threaten the health and safety of countless Floridians.”

The bill’s abandonment allows many Floridians to heave a deep sigh of relief. There are some 57 communities in Florida that have passed resolutions against fracking, the Orlando Weekly reported in December.