State Senate panel torpedoes zombie fracking bill

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Last week, when the Senate Appropriations Committee shot down a bill that would have legitimized the practice of hydraulic fracturing in Florida, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto left the door slightly cracked for the bill to be taken up by the same committee again, presumably after someone buttonholed two or three Senators who voted against it but still appeared on the fence.

In the end, though, supporters of the bill, filed by Naples Sen. Garrett Richter, weren't able to convert anyone.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a practice in which oil and gas companies use pressurized water and noxious compounds to dissolve underground rock so they can get to the sweet, sweet petrochemicals below, subsequently making a killing selling the stuff and helping to irreversibly alter the earth's atmosphere when said petrochemicals combust in our cars.

And some Florida lawmakers are fighting to make the practice legal, arguing that some oil and gas companies are already here doing it illegally, so why not make it legal and regulate it so the at least they do it the right way? (Oh, and by the way, while we're "regulating" it, we're gonna make it illegal for cities and counties to ban the practice within their own boundaries and help protect the companies from having to reveal the acidic chemical cocktails with which they're literally breaking apart the earth's crust.)

Opposition to the bill was bipartisan; support was not (unless you count the oil and gas industry as a political party).

Anyway, environmental activists and others who think fracking is a really, really, really bad idea were worried when they learned the spent bill's corpse might reanimate this week.

But they were in luck.

Tuesday afternoon, the panel again voted it down.

Through a public relations firm, the group Floridians Against Fracking issued a statement following the vote: 

“We want to applaud the Senators in the Appropriations Committee for declining to hear SB318 and standing up to protect our public health and our environment. Clearly, proponents of the bill did not have enough votes to pass it, and we are pleased it died in Committee.
From the get go, SB 318 was a deeply flawed bill that sought to pave the road for fracking in Florida while prohibiting local communities from passing measures to protect local residents. It waived public disclosure laws so that the oil and gas industry could keep the toxic chemical it used in fracking a secret from the general public and set up a bogus study that lacked scientific rigor.
We know that fracking has been known to contaminate water resources, endanger public health, cause earthquakes, contribute to climate change, and keeps us addicted to fossil fuels. Fracking should be banned in Florida period since it is inherently dangerous.”

The news means the bill goes nowhere this legislative session (even though a similar measure cleared the House), but it could easily return in 2017.

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