Anti-fracking rally planned for Monday

click to enlarge A 2010 anti-fracking demonstration in Pittsburgh, Penn. - flickr user Marcellus Protest
flickr user Marcellus Protest
A 2010 anti-fracking demonstration in Pittsburgh, Penn.

It's 2016, and somehow there is still debate over whether it's a good idea to crack open the earth's crust in search of substances we can use for fuel.

Here in Florida, the legislature is weighing a bill that would in essence make it legal for oil and gas companies to conduct hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") while setting forth "regulations" and barring cities and counties from banning the practice in their communities.

Earlier this week, the Florida House of Representatives passed that bill, and a parallel measure is making its way through the State Senate.

Environmental groups and others who think that maybe it's a bad idea to compromise Floridians' groundwater supply, the natural environment and public health in general are planning protests across the state to rally against the measures.

One such event is planned for Brandon on Monday at 5:30 p.m. According to a media release, protesters plan to gather at 5:30 p.m. at Clayton Lake, on the corner of Vonderburg Drive and South Parsons Avenue.

Not that the elected representatives in support of it really care what they have to say, though. One of the bill's sponsors straw-manned it on the House floor Wednesday, suggesting that every innovation has its risks, including this'un.

"If you look at our history, challenges and controversies have always confronted this chamber, and the choices have always been the same —- are we going to react with fear, are we going to react with pessimism or are we going to be cynical? Or are we going to react with courage, are we going to react with optimism, and are we going to seek the ideal?" said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican who sponsored the bill, according to News Service of Florida.

(Some would say that maybe the same argument could've been applied to Medicaid expansion, but that's none of our business.)

Democrats fought the good fight as the bill was being discussed.

"Why would we even want to consider a bill that is going to potentially poison our drinking water? What we're doing is we're injecting toxic fluids in the ground,'' Rep. Irv Slosberg (D—Boca Raton) said, according to NSF. "What's wrong with us here? I mean, something's going on. And you know what's going on, this fracking bill is really called the anything for money bill."

Again, if this passes, cities and counties oil and gas companies hope to explore will not be allowed to keep them from doing so, even though its their groundwater that would be contaminated if one of said oil and gas companies has an oops.

"Our county scientists in Broward as well as Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County and beyond have looked at this issue and have determined that fracking is not a good thing, it is not a good thing for our state," said Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D—Coconut Creek).

The bill also would direct the Florida Department of Environmental "Protection" to compile a "study" on the potential economic benefits and environmental risks of fracking. Given that department's recent stalwart environmental stewardship, we'd guess they've already written that sucker.

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