Friday, November 21, 2014
Barry Law School and League of Women Voters propose regulations for fracking in Florida
By Erin Sullivan
on Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 4:54 PM
Via League of Women Voters/Barry Law School
Last night, students at Barry Law School and the League of Women Voters of Orange County unveiled a comprehensive plan to regulate fracking in the state of Florida. Law students in the school's Environmental and Earth Clinic researched Florida's oil and gas regulations, compared them to the regulations of 14 other states and composed draft legislation that would spell out where, when and how companies could be permitted to use the controversial hydraulic fracturing process – aka fracking – to extract natural gas and oil from deep beneath Florida's soil. The proposal also includes a provision that would allow municipalities to outright ban the practice within their borders.
According to Chuck O’Neal, chair of the natural resources committee of the League of Women Voters of Orange County, Florida currently has no rules in place to regulate fracking, which injects water and chemicals into the ground to create breaks in rock formations that release oil and gas deposits. The practice has swept through Northeastern states, and O'Neal says that companies are now eyeing Florida, which he says is home to "ample" supplies of subterranean oil and natural gas.
“Florida is a new frontier for oil and gas companies,” he says.
Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, says he plans to introduce a bill in the 2015 legislative session that would outright ban fracking anywhere in the state of Florida. He says he and Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, are drafting a bill that they plan to introduce in December or January.
“What concerns me is that we get the vast majority of our drinking water from the Floridan Aquifer, and fracking puts that water in jeopardy,” Soto says. The aquifer is already so threatened it’s not worth risking, he says, and he notes that he thinks the bill stands a decent chance of gaining support in the Statehouse because fracking is such a fraught issue.
O'Neal says that even if Soto's bill were to pass, it would still be important for the state to have a set of rules in place to regulate fracking. He points out that moratoriums are routinely overturned, so it would be important to have rules in place in case that were to happen.
The text of the regulations drafted by Barry Law School and the League is below. They are currently looking for a legislator to sponsor the regulations as a bill during the 2015 legislative session in Tallahassee.