The national debate about a type of oil and gas drilling known as “fracking” has never hit home in Florida.
But state Rep. Ray Rodrigues says that “every indication is at some point in the future” fracking — or, more formally, hydraulic fracturing — will happen in Florida.
And to prepare for that, Rodrigues on Thursday began moving forward with a bill (HB 743) that would lead to companies reporting the chemicals they inject into the ground while fracking in the state.
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee voted unanimously to approve the measure, which would direct the state Department of Environmental Protection to set up a registry to collect the information about chemicals and volumes of water used in the fracking process. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, has filed the Senate version (SB 1028) of the proposal, though it has not been heard in a committee.
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to create fractures in rock formations, which allows the release of natural gas and oil. The process has spread in recent years, with supporters saying, at least in part, that it is opening up vast supplies of natural gas.
But controversy in states such as New York and Pennsylvania have centered on whether the process can contaminate groundwater and cause other damage to the environment. The Associated Press reported that the New York State Assembly voted Wednesday to put off until 2015 decisions about allowing the practice, though the state’s Senate has not gone along with such a moratorium.
Rodrigues said his bill creating a Florida registry is modeled after a measure in Texas. He said he thinks it is better to be “proactive” on the issue instead of waiting to take action after fracking comes to Florida.
The Florida Petroleum Council expressed support for the bill during Thursday’s meeting, while environmental groups did not offer opinions to the subcommittee.
Florida has long had oil drilling in parts of southwest Florida and the Panhandle. The Fort Myers News-Press reported in October about emails it had obtained from the Department of Environmental Protection that indicated discussions had been taking place about the possibility of fracking in Florida.
Via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.