Email Insights: Progress Florida tackles two troubling incidents

in Uncategorized by

Progress Florida certainly has a lot on their plate lately, evidenced by not one, but two uncompromising email petition blasts focusing on different — yet equally troublesome — developments in the Sunshine State.

The first — titled “No Fracking Way” — calls out two bills making way through the legislature that promotes the “dangerous oil and gas extraction process” known as fracking.

Progress claims that the bills (HB 71 and HB 157) would “open the door”  to allowing energy companies to inject sand, water, chemicals—and heaven knows what else — into bedrock deep underground to force out latent, hard-to-extract oil and gas.

What makes it particularly bothersome is that the legislation denies “the public’s right to know” since it keeps the exact chemical mixture used in fracking from becoming public, marking the products as “trade secrets.”

Troubling, indeed.

Although HB 71 does allow the Department of Environmental Protection to create an online hydraulic fracturing chemical registry, the bill (as it now stands) has this worrisome language:

“The total volume of water used in the hydraulic fracturing treatment and each chemical ingredient that is … for each well on which hydraulic fracturing treatments are performed by a service provider or vendor. The department may not … require chemical ingredients to be identified by concentration or based on the additive in which they are found.”

The issue around fracking in Florida should give one pause, even though there are no active fracking projects in the state — yet.

The second email addresses a more mundane issue, but one no less disconcerting — the political ethics of State Rep. Eric Fresen.

“Miami’s most ethically challenged legislator,” is on Progress’ radar over a deal with the state Ethics Commission to dismiss accusations of numerous violations of Florida law.

At issue are Fresen’s 2010 and 2011 financial disclosure forms, where he listed two IRS liens totaling $29,199, a violation for elected official, in addition to a 2009 final judgment for $641,000.

In 2010, Fresen paid $10,000 in fines to the Florida Division of Elections for submitting incomplete and delayed funding reports in the past two years, and he continues to refuse to pony up a $1,500 ethics fine from 2003.

This morning, the House Ethics Commission found probable cause that Fresen violated ethics, referring the matter to House Speaker Will Weatherford for the appropriate penalty.

Progress calls on supporters not to let Fresen off the hook, by urging Weatherford to impose “real penalties” and not just a “slap on the wrist.”

Fresen may have offered a mea culpa for his numerous oversights, but his continued determination not to come clean over a simple $1,500 fine might justify the Progress Florida title of “most ethically challenged.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.