The fracking ban bill deserves a fair hearing

By Rob Moher | Conservancy of Southwest Florida President and CEO

Leadership in the House of Representatives is preventing HB 451 — the fracking ban bill — from being heard in its first committee. This is not acceptable. We cannot let this bill die based on Leadership’s refusal to give it a fair hearing.

Fracking has been a hot-button issue in the Florida Legislature in recent years. Over 90 counties and cities have passed local fracking bans or ordinances, representing more than fifty percent of all Floridians. These fracking and fracking like activities pose an enormous risk to Florida’s ecosystem and tourism industry because it can result in surface oil spills, water contamination, and involves a massive waste of precious freshwater supplies.

This year, for the first time, there is strong bipartisan support from a number of lawmakers throughout the state that would effectively ban these risky drilling techniques. SB442, and its companion HB451, would ban all forms of extreme well stimulation, including hydraulic and acid fracking, as well as matrix acidizing. While the bill would ban these practices -which inject hazardous chemicals underground and result in waste of freshwater resources to a one-time industrial process- it would not impact access to mineral rights through conventional methods of oil drilling.

SB442, sponsored by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa), was heard in its first committee on Tuesday, March 7 passed with unanimous support, yet the companion bill has yet to be assigned its first committee hearing.

The Conservancy has been actively involved in this legislation and in building support with lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature. We thank the leadership of Senator Young and the House bill sponsors, Representatives Mike Miller (R-Orlando) and Janet Cruz (D-Tampa), for their hard work and leadership on this issue. Their advocacy for a ban on fracking in Florida has moved this issue to the forefront of the debates in Tallahassee. Together, the House and Senate bills have a total of 38 co-sponsors, to whom we also express our gratitude. The Conservancy will continue working with the bill sponsors to help ensure that this important legislation –and the strong protection it provides to Florida’s natural resources- is signed into law this year.

According to House leadership, the final window for this bill to be placed on the committee agenda has already passed. It is unusually early in legislative session for committee meetings to no longer be scheduled, but house leadership does still have the ability to get house bill 451 heard this session and give it the fair hearing it deserves.

Please tell Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Florida House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues to honor the democratic process and allow HB451 to be heard in its first committee, regardless of whether they support the bill or not.

To learn more about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s position on this issue visit