Update: Florida's controversial bill to expand fracking and preempt local communities from banning it has passed the State House. The State Senate is now considering their version, and they've asked the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to weigh in. Click here to tell the FDEP to do their job by telling the truth about the dangers of fracking.
For months we have been telling lawmakers in Florida that constituents want their state to be Frack Free. Last month, I joined hundreds of fracktivists at the state's capitol for a rally and meetings with State Assembly members.1 We talked to them about the dangers fracking pose to Florida's unique and vulnerable geology, to its drinking water and to its climate and economy.
Our hard work paid off this week when some of the State Senators not only listened, but took our concerns to heart and acted on them. The best part is Senators from both political parties are seeing the light and making their voices heard. In addition to Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando), who has been leading the fight against fracking for months, Sen. Charlie Dean (R-Inverness) voted against the bill when it was considered in the Environmental Protection and Conservation Committee, which he chairs! And Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) recently tweeted, "fracking isn't the way #BanFracking #FrackisWack."2
Now, one of the most powerful Senators in the state, Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon), Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, just announced he won't allow the bill to be heard until the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) provides on-the-record testimony.3 In demanding testimony from the strangely silent FDEP, Lee even said, "We want credible scientific responses to questions, not special interest responses." That's why we need to tell FDEP to do it's job and provide the Florida Senate with objective information, not Fracked-up facts from Big Oil. Click here to help send them the message.
This is already a big win for fracktivists because FDEP's mission is to, "create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida's natural resources and enhance its ecosystems." But the Secretary of FDEP, Jon Steverson, was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott who is such an avid climate denier that he once banned state employees from even using the phrase "climate change."5 That's probably why Sec. Steverson does not have the support of some Florida lawmakers, like Sen. Soto who once remarked, "We obviously have a veering vision from what the Secretary wants for environmental protection."6
Fortunately, all Sec. Steverson needs to tell the Senate is what we already know the scientific evidence says: Earlier this year, Yale University released a study confirming that chemicals used in fracking fluid are linked to reproductive and developmental health problems.7 There are also numerous studies that conclude that, given Florida's unique geology, fracking would be particularly dangerous to aquifers used for drinking water.8
We've already seen what happens when agencies depend on the fracking industry for information -- remember the EPA report that said fracking has no "widespread" impact on drinking water that has since been rebuked by their own Science Advisory Board?9 We can't let the same thing happen in Florida. Click here to tell Sec. Steverson that when he and FDEP testify at the Senate they need to base their conclusion on FACTS not FRACKS.
Thanks for Sounding Off,
Anthony and the Environmental Action Frack Free Florida Coalition
1. Rogers-Wright, Anthony. Foiling the Florida Frack Attack. Environmental Action. January 22, 2016.
2. Burlew, Jeff. Florida Senate Could Derail Fracking Bill. Tallahassee.com. February 8, 2016.
3. Sarkissian, Arek. Fracking Bill Stalls in Senate as Committee Chair Demands More Information. Naples Daily News. February 8, 2016.
4. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Website
5. Korten, Tristram. Florida's State Employees are Preparing for Climate Change , Even as Their Governor Bans The Phrase. New Republic. March 22, 2015.
6. Turner, Jim. Florida Senate Signs Off on DEP Secretary. PalmBeachPost.com. January 28, 2016.
7. Greenwood, Michael. Toxins Found in Fracking Fluids and Wastewater, Study Says. Yale News. January 6, 2016.
8. Rose, Marla. Florida's Geographic and Geologic Challenges. FracTracker Alliance. August 6, 2014.
9. Peltier, Laurel. Pennsylvania Fracking Water Contamination Much Higher Than Reported. EcoWatch. February 4, 2016.