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House Republicans reject amendments to fracking bill sponsored by Democrats

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The Republican-led state House rejected more than a dozen amendments — all of which were sponsored by House Democrats — to a proposal aimed at regulating hydraulic fracturing.

House Democrats put forth at least 20 amendments to the bill (HB 191).

The changes included requiring drillers to submit water to the Department of Environmental every six months for water quality tests; requiring drillers to test well casings and casing shoes every six months, and prohibiting drillers from using substances listed in the 13th report on carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program.

Lawmakers also tried to amend the proposal, sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, to allow more local control. Included among the amendments targeting the preemption language were calls for voter approval before fracking could take place; a request to allow local bans to remain in place until a study and rulemaking were completed; and an attempt to change the date by which local ordinances needed to be in place.

None of the amendments sponsored by Democrats passed. However, the House did adopt amendments sponsored by Rodrigues.

Those changes attempt to address concerns over local control raised by cities and counties across the state. While the amended version of the bill still local governments from banning fracking, it allows counties and municipalities to adopt and enforce land use requirements “so long as such zoning or land use requirements would not impose a moratorium on, effectively prohibit, or inordinately burden” activities.

Among other things, Rodrigues’ bill requires drillers to get a permit before they can begin fracking and increases penalties to $25,000 a day per violation. It also calls on the DEP to conduct a study on the effect of alternative drilling techniques on Florida’s environment.

The bill is expected to get a vote of the full House on Wednesday.

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