Make us your home page
Instagram

Legislators prepare for potential fracking in Florida

TALLAHASSEE — No one knows if Florida is going to be the next frontier for the new generation of oil and gas drilling known as fracking, but state legislators say — just in case — it's time to write rules to require disclosure of the controversial technology.

The Florida House is expected to pass a bill today that will require companies to disclose what chemicals they use when they explore for oil and gas using the much-debated extraction process.

Fracking uses hydraulic fracturing technology to inject water, sand and chemicals underground to create fractures in rock formations. Oil and gas is released through the fissures and is captured by wells, built at the sites.

Environmentalists warn that the chemical makeup of the fluid that is pumped into the ground could contaminate groundwater and release harmful pollutants, such as methane, into the air.

"The Fracturing Chemical Usage Disclosure Act," sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodriques, R-Estero, would require the state Division of Resource Management to set up an online chemical registry for owners and operators of wells, service companies and suppliers that use hydraulic fracturing.

The bill also requires the information to be posted on the website FracFocus.org, an online clearinghouse run by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

Rodriques said the bill, HB 743, is neither profracking nor antifracking. "It's a transparency bill," he said. A similar measure is moving in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth.

Hydrologists have identified only two potential areas in Florida — Southwest Florida's Lower Sunniland field and the Jay field in the Panhandle — where the state's geology could support fracking, Rodriques said. But if Florida is the next industry hot spot, "no one has applied for a permit" and the Department of Environmental Protection "does not have any active inquiries," he said.

Rodriques said he believes that speculation continues among investors who believe Florida's ancient oil fields may have fracking potential, particularly in Southwest Florida, where a handful of oil wells have operated for decades largely unknown to the public.

In Houston on Wednesday, for example, the second annual conference on "Emerging Shale Plays USA" will feature a presentation on whether or not Florida has the right mix of rock properties to support hydraulic fracturing at the Lower Sunniland site in Hendry, Collier and Lee counties.

Environmentalists initially opposed the measure, arguing it was a ploy to open the state to a process they claim could be disruptive to Florida's fragile aquifers and high water table. But amendments adopted by the House have appeased them, said Mary Jane Yon, lobbyist for Audubon of Florida.

The change requires that companies disclose not only chemicals used in the fracturing process, but also disclose the chemical concentration by mass and the chemicals used for each well. Chemicals make up about 0.5 percent of the fracking compounds, with 95 percent of it water and 4.5 percent sand, Rodriques said.

Legislators prepare for potential fracking in Florida 04/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]
  2. With successful jewelry line, Durant High alum Carley Ochs enjoys 'incredible ride'

    Business

    BRANDON

    As a child Carley Ochs played dress up, draped in her grandmother's furs.

    Founder Carley Ochs poses for a portrait in her Ford Bronco at the Bourbon & Boweties warehouse in Brandon, Fla. on September 19, 2017. Ochs is a Durant High and Florida State University graduate.
  3. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]
  5. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst

    Business

    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.