Tallahassee, FL -- Today Florida State Representatives Evan Jenne, Amanda Murphy, Dwight Dudley, Irv Slosberg, Mark Pafford, and Victor Torres joined affected residents from Pennsylvania living with contaminated drinking water, New Yorkers who helped ban fracking, and partners of the Floridians Against Fracking Coalition to denounce House Bill 191, the pro-fracking bill that is scheduled to be voted on in the floor in the next two days.
This bill would allow for the toxic, carcinogenic chemicals used in fracking to be deemed a “trade secret” under Florida State law and prohibit localities from banning fracking, even after 24 counties and 41 cities have passed ordinances banning fracking and resolutions demanding that fracking be banned in their municipalities and counties.
“No one will want to come and visit Florida to vacation next to a fracking rig. This bill is the oil and gas industry’s latest attempt to start fracking some of Florida’s most ecologically sensitive areas including the Everglades, while jeopardizing the life blood of our economy - tourism and agriculture,” said Representative Evan Jenne. "After 10 years of seeing the damage that fracking has wrought on communities across this country, poisoning the water, air and land of the American people, Florida’s State legislature should be banning the practice altogether, not moving it forward.”
A significant portion of House Bill 191 ensures that local municipalities will no longer have input on whether fracking is banned or restricted within municipalities and goes as far as nullifying the 60 local resolutions demanding that fracking be banned.
“By eliminating a key state statute on local control and enshrining pro-fracking language in state statute, HB 191 ensures that citizens have no decision-making authority over whether a drilling well comes into their community,”
said Representative Amanda Murphy. "It is an egregious and blatant giveaway to the oil and gas industry since so many localities have already said ‘no’ to fracking.”
This bill would allow the toxic chemicals used in fracking to be declared a trade secret under chapter 688 of the State’s code. This would prevent first responders, health professionals, and citizens from knowing the hazardous chemicals being pumped in frack wells that could threaten aquifers that Floridians rely on for drinking water. Pennsylvanian resident Ray Kemble brought a bottle full of contaminated water from his region to the State Capitol. Pennsylvanian state agencies verified that it was contaminated by drilling and fracking operations.
“Water is life. My community has suffered with contaminated drinking water for over 10 years and if Florida’s State Legislature passes this bill then your state will be next,” said Ray Kemble from Dimock, Pa. “I challenge any representative who wants to vote for this bill to drink this water out of my tap, because that is what you will be threatening to do to the people of Florida.”
Although proponents cite that fracking is already allowed in Florida and that this bill regulates it, the bill does nothing to ask the most important preliminary question: whether fracking should be banned in Florida like in other states including New York and Vermont. The bill also does not address the main method the oil and gas industry would use for fracking called matrix acidizing, that would use acid to burn away underground limestone.
“This bill fails to study or regulate the type of well stimulation most likely to be used in Florida,” said Brian Lee, the legislative lobbyist for the Floridians Against Fracking. "Without ‘matrix acidization’ included in this bill, and with the home rule preemption that voids ordinances written by local governments that have banned fracking, this bill would allow the type of fracking used at the Collier Hogan well in the Everglades in 2014 to go unregulated at either the state or federal level.”
Frack Action’s Director and New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition member Julia Walsh also highlighted how New York banned fracking in December 2014 after its Department of Health concluded that fracking posed a serious public health and safety risk in a published muli-year health review. Since then, a compendium of over 550 peer-reviewed scientific studies from health professional across the country, released by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, found that fracking causes significant harm and has serious health impacts.
“If fracking is not safe for New Yorkers then it’s not safe for the people of Florida!” said Walsh, a member of New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition.
“The members of the House chambers must open their eyes to the Trojan horse that the oil and gas industry wants to write into law,” said Michelle Allen, the Florida organizer for Food & Water Watch. “If allowed to go through, HB 191 will gut decades of laws meant to protect the rights of local communities and leave Floridians exposed to the devastation the fracking industry has already caused around the country.”