We know fracking is a controversial issue, and PSR Florida stands with those who support banning the activity, but why is that?
Here is a short video that explains the basic process of fracking:
Hydraulic fracturing was developed in the 1940s to increase the production of conventional oil and gas resources. While the technique is not new, the composition of the fracturing fluids used in the process has evolved over time. Hydraulic fracturing in conjunction with horizontal or directional drilling techniques has led to a surge in domestic production of oil and gas resources in the last decade and, in 2012, the United States became the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons.
Fracking has certainly changed the energy landscape of our time, but at what costs? PSR national put out a compendium discussing at great length the effects of fracking on human health and the environment.
Ignorance or human mistakes caused by institutional oversight creates resident pathogens that can ultimately generate great harm to the people surrounding fracking. The EPA estimated that of the approximately 275,000 wells that have been hydraulically fractured in 25 states between 2000 and 2013, an estimated 21,900 or eight percent were within one mile of at least one public water system groundwater well or surface water intake. As a result of fracturing, sources of drinking water may be contaminated through the release of gas-phase hydrocarbons.
The EPA concluded that spills generally occur at 1 to 10 percent of hydraulically fractured or active wells, with about 7 percent of such spills reaching surface water or groundwater.
Where does oil and gas activities occur in Florida? Here is a map:
Northwest and South Florida are the major oil and gas producing areas in the state. The first producing oil well was discovered in 1943 at a well site located in the Big Cypress Preserve in South Florida.
In 2017, there were 64 active producer wells in Florida. Rather than hydraulic fracturing, well operators in the state prefer washing or flushing the formations to open carbonate pathways to enhance recovery of oil and gas resources.
Who controls fracking? States have primary jurisdiction and authority over the regulation of oil and gas activities. In 2016, the measure, HB 191, passed by a 73-45 vote with seven Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the measure. This allows the state to regulate and authorize the pumping of large volumes of water, sand, and chemicals into the ground using high pressure to recover oil and gas deposits.
Section 377.24(5), F.S., restricts the FDEP from issuing a permit for drilling within the corporate limits of a municipality unless the municipality adopts a resolution approving the permit. Six municipalities, Estero, Bonita Springs, Coconut Creek, Cape Coral, Dade, and Zephyrhills, and thirteen counties, Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Broward, Citrus, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Volusia, Wakulla, and Walton, have banned one or more forms of well stimulation techniques by ordinance.
There have been many attempts over the last several years to ban fracking in the state of Florida. The first success occurred last week. The passing of Amendment 9, with the support of more than 60 percent of voters, will revise the state constitution to prohibit both offshore oil and gas drilling and the use of e-cigarettes in indoor workplaces.
Florida also has existing regulations to limit offshore drilling. But enshrining a ban in the state constitution would more permanently protect the state’s coasts and wildlife as well as its tourism industry from the risks associated with oil and gas extraction.
Some wondered why the amendment had the odd coupling of banning vaping and offshore drilling. We did too. Florida is the only state that has a commission — the Constitution Revision Commission — which suggests constitutional changes. They meet every 20 years and have the power to “bundle” numerous constitutional changes into single amendment ballot initiatives.