Hillsborough County opposes Florida fracking bill

Les Miller
Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller. By Janelle Irwin/WMNF News (Apr. 2013).

Florida Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Lee’s home county has just come out against a fracking bill that will get its next hearing in that committee; on Wednesday the Hillsborough County Commission passed a resolution to oppose the bill to study and regulate hydraulic fracturing at the same time it forbids local governments from banning the drilling practice, as many have done.

[update: on Thursday the Miami Herald reported Senator Lee is putting the brakes on the fracking bill until hearing from the DEP]

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The resolution was supported unanimously and introduced by Commission chair Les Miller.

“What is not being discussed is the damage that will occur in our counties throughout the state. It will damage our underground aquifers that supplies drinking water to a vast majority of our state and would destroy our limestone. Can you imagine having Flint, Michigan, throughout the state of Florida? And that’s what could very well happen. We could very well have this happen if this bill passes. The bill pre-exempts local governments from regulating all facets of oil and gas extraction and exploration. The bill also states that DEP [Florida Department of Environmental Protection] cannot disclose chemicals used in fracking process that are deemed trade secrets. Sixty-four local governments have already passed resolutions opposing this bill and we should join them.”

No members of the public spoke out in support of fracking. In contrast, before the vote four people, including Lynn Ringenberg, asked Commissioners to reject the bill [SB 318] and ban fracking. Ringenberg is a professor of pediatrics at the University of South Florida and co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility Tampa Bay.

“The science and the peer-reviewed medical literature is clear. That fracking will eventually – it will contaminate the air and the water and it will harm health. All pipes leak, even our ‘pipes.’ Our blood vessels leak. And especially under high pressure and that’s what fracking is. So, hypertension, high blood pressure, your ‘pipes’ are leaking more. … The pipes leak methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas, even more potent than CO2 in the short term. There will be leaks of toxic chemicals, many are trade secret, so we won’t know what’ in our water. The wastewater also from fracking contains numerous chemicals – many toxic, many carcinogenic. And in addition to that radioactive isotopes come back from the earth from fracking and are in the wastewater.”

The fracking bill was passed along party lines in the Republican-dominated Florida House last week. Its next stop in the Senate is the Appropriations Committee, chaired by Brandon’s Tom Lee. A spokesperson for Senate President Andy Gardnier told WMNF News that committee is likely to be focused on the budget for the next two weeks but the fracking bill could be heard as soon as the week of February 15.



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