Using one line to get to the heart of the matter, on December 2, 2014, two Florida senators filed a bill aimed to ban fracking throughout the state. Senate Bill 166 defines hydraulic fracturing as the process of pumping fluids underground to create fractures in rock for the purpose of producing or recovering oil or gas. Thereafter the legislative action states: “A person may not engage in hydraulic fracturing in this state.” Beyond prohibiting this type of exploration activity, the measure makes no effort to include enforcement provisions or provide any state regulatory agency authority to act. (Text of Senate Bill 166)
Explaining their actions, the senators broadly explained the legislation would protect the state’s water supply, environment and tourism economy. Citing the Everglades and beaches as draws for tourism, the senators said the bill would protect the state’s natural beauty.
The bill apparently responds to the public discussion initiated last week when Florida Power & Light sought permission to form a partnership with an Oklahoma oil and gas company to tap a natural gas well. In the hearing, FPL told the Public Service Commission that its customers would not see price increases from its exploration efforts because the investments in gas production would result in savings that offset the costs. Critics questioned how noneconomic or under-producing wells would be funded; they also raised concerns about the safety and effects of hydraulic fracturing. The PSC should make its decision on FPL’s natural gas exploration request by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, if enacted when the Florida legislature convenes in March 2015, the newly proposed hydraulic fracturing ban would take effect on July 1, 2015.