State proposal to protect fracking dies in the Legislature

March 9, 2016

A proposed law intended to prevent local governments from adopting bans on fracking died March 1 in the Florida Senate.

Monroe County commissioners in 2015 adopted a resolution opposing the fracking-protection bill, one of 32 Florida counties to take the step.

Nearly 50 cities also opposed the bill — a version of which passed the Florida House, 73-45, on Jan. 27. State Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) voted against the bill.

Fracking is the process of injecting chemical-laced water at high pressure and sand into underground rock formations to free trapped fuels.

Critics say fracking can damage water supplies, create health hazards and cause unforeseen environmental changes. Advocates say fracking allows energy production not dependent on foreign sources.

Fracking has been banned in Ohio, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Monroe County commissioners unanimously agreed, “The possible chemical contamination and environmental degradation caused by fracking may result grave, irreparable damage to the groundwater that supplies potable water to the residents, businesses and visitors to the Florida Keys … [and may] have disastrous effects on our environmentally sensitive plant life, and marine life for generations to come.”

Fracking seems unlikely to occur in the heavily protected Florida Keys but Monroe County’s primary source of drinking water is mainland aquifers.

The County Commission endorsed a fracking ban in Florida, or in the Florida Keys, or any area where fracking would possibly impact or threaten the water supply and watersheds or natural environment of the Florida Keys.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Garrett Richter, pulled it from consideration when it became apparent that a Senate committee was prepared to block its passage.

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