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 is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul

    Markets

    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall

    Business

    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages

    Business

    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel

    Business

    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.