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Senate panel won’t reconsider controversial fracking proposal

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A bill to regulate fracking is most likely dead after the Senate sponsor said he did not want the Senate Appropriations committee to reconsider the measure.

This past Thursday the Senate Appropriations panel voted 10-9 to reject the proposal (SB 318), but lawmakers swiftly made a motion to reconsider to keep the proposal on the agenda. The bill was slated for a hearing Tuesday, but instead Richter made a motion not to reconsider the measure.

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

Among other things, the proposal required drillers to get a permit before they can frack, required the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study on the impact of fracking, and increased penalties from $10,000 a day per violation to $25,000 a day per violation.

It also prohibited local governments from putting local bans in place; but allowed local governments to adopt and enforce zoning and land use requirements, so long as those conditions didn’t prohibit the act.

The bill called for a moratorium on fracking until the Department of Environmental Protection completed a $1 million study and rules were adopted.

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