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Fracking & Florida

Rethink Energy Florida

Hydraulic Fracturing or “fracking” is a controversial method of extracting oil from shale rock. It was the topic of a workshop at the West Florida Public Library yesterday called “Fracking and Florida”.

Kim Ross is the President and Founder of Rethink Energy Florida, an organization that was born out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and works for a more sustainable energy future. They hosted the workshop.  Ross spoke with WUWF’s Bob Barrett about how fracking is becoming an issue in Florida.

  • There has already been an incident of illegal fracking in South Florida near Naples. However, it was only illegal because the DEP did not give approval before the operation started. As far as state law is concerned, fracking is legal in Florida. Ross says there should be action taken in the legislature because Florida's oil and gas laws are 60 years old.
  • There are various bills on the topic on fracking in the legislature now. Some support the process while others are meant to restrict it. There are also bills that would ban the practice in the state. Rethink Energy Florida supports effort to fan fracking in Florida. They say it put the tourist, fishing and agriculture industries in the state at risk.
  • There are two areas in the state that are of interest to the industry. The first is the Sunnyland Shale Basin in southwest Florida. The other is here is Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. There is a shale basin that could be fracked here in the future.
  • Ross says that while the oil supplies put on the market are causing oil and gasoline prices to fall, there are other market factors causing that price drop as well. She feels the economic benefits of fracking do not outweigh the environmental and "quality of life" issues the process creates. Studies have shown that there are increased health risks within ten miles of a fracking site. There are also issues with the amount of water each individual fracking site uses, in the millions of gallons each time a site is fracked. The "back wash" from fracking leaks chemicals into the aquifer of an area, possibly contaminating water supplies.
  • Rethink Energy Florida is touring the state educating people about what they see as the threats of fracking in Florida, and hoping people will become engaged and active to push the legislature for an outright ban of the practice.