A Fracked Up Turn in Florida House
HB 191 Sails Through The House With 73-45 Vote, Public Health Amendments Rejected
This past Wednesday, the Florida House approved a controversial bill to expand fracking throughout the state and preempt local communities from implementing bans or moratoriums on the extreme practice. Eviscerating the right of local jurisdictions to block fracking is contentious and unprecedented in itself, but it was some of the amendments that were struck down that shocked me even more. For instance, one amendment that would have required studying the impact of the fracking chemicals on pregnant mothers, unborn babies and other human health was summarily rejected by the largely Republican controlled house. This despite the results of a recent study conducted by MIT, Princeton and Columbia, which found that proximity to fracking wells can lead to increase incidences of low birth weight. The legislative chamber also blocked an amendment that would require frackers to disclose the use of any chemicals known to be carcinogens.
House Republicans Offer Silly Syllogism/False Parallels
One of HB 191’s sponsors, Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, likened the controversy surrounding the bill, and fracking in general, to previously debates about allowing alternate current electricity into homes, allowing for automobile use on the state’s roads; and whether to allow submerged lands to help launch astronauts to put man on the moon. He went on to say, “The controversies have always been the same. Are we going to react with fear … or with courage?” Somehow, fracking has now been equated with valor. But I contend that it takes more valor to realize that a system is broken and requires change than to continue to adhere to it. That’s exactly the type of courage that was demonstrated by my new friend Ray Kemble from Dimock, PA who previously worked as a natural gas driller and now is an outspoken fracking opponent.
Floridians will ultimately have to decide if it is bolder to take address climate change and the specter of poisoned water trough resistance and a renewable evolution, or to maintain a status quo of more fracking, drilling and climate killing. Based on my experience last week a the Reclaiming Florida’s Future rally, as well as the fact that 41 cities in 27 counties, representing nearly 10 million people, Rep. Rodrigues is on the wrong side of valor, the people and history…and we have to ask ourselves why this is.
Big Oil Applies Its Best Lubricant, Campaign Contributions
Fracking proponents have been busy greasing as many lawmakers as they can in the Florida Sate House. Big Oil contributed at least $443,000 to the political committees of top Republican lawmakers since the last election. The Barron Collier Companies, which wants a permit to use hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas in Naples and the Everglades, steered $178,000 to lawmakers since December 2014, including $115,000 since July. Other members of the petroleum industry have already contributed $265,000 during this session, not even one month old. And the combination of blocked amendments dedicated to addressing and preserving public health, including that of unborn children, and State Representatives classifying fracking as an act of courage, just goes to show that too many politicians in Tallahassee are working for special interests instead of the interests of the people.
The Next Step For Florida Fracktivation
The Florida State Senate is expected to vote on their version of the bill any day now. There is no time to lose as Big Oil is already busy at work greasing the Senate as I write this. The only way we are going to kill the Senate version of this feckless fracking bill is to fractivate, BIG TIME. Our friends at ReThink Energy Florida have put together some great events and actions that are listed below:
Saturday afternoon will be a Day of Action across Florida, so come out – and bring your friends – to tell your Senators “No Fracking Way” should they vote to pass Senate Bill 318!
The places, times, and point persons responsible for the rallies are below:
- Miami, FL: 3050 Biscayne Blvd (Outside Senator Margolis’s Office), SAT 4:45 PM EST. Point Person-Andrea Cuccaro email@example.com. Event facebook here.
- Orlando, FL: Constitution Green, SAT 4:00 PM EST. Point Person-Lisa Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook event here
- Tallahassee, FL: Cascades Park, SAT 12:30 PM EST. Point Person- Fran Sullivan-Fah and Others at email@example.com. Event facebookhere.
- Gainesville, FL: 530 West University Avenue (Outside Senator Bradley’s Office), SAT 4:00 PM EST. Point Person- Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook event here
- Tampa/St. Petersburg: Clayton Lake, on the corner of Vonderburg Drive and S Parsons Avenue in Brandon, MON 5:30 PM EST. Point Person- Michelle Allen at email@example.com. Facebook event here
How else can you get involved?
- Call Senator Tom Lee, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, at 866-583-2908, and ask him to not hear SB 318 in committee.
- Write an LTE to your newspaper! For help, contact ReThink Energy Florida at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Come to a rally near you or host a rally of your own! For help, contact ReThink Energy Florida at email@example.com
- Share and invite others to the general facebook event and the rally near you!
We can keep Florida Frack Free…but it’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck effort and a fracktivists revolution. Stay tuned for more information about how you can stop fracking from reigning in the Sunshine State.