Banning Fracking and Extreme Oil Well Stimulation Treatments
Current oil and gas laws allow fracking and fracking-like well stimulation techniques -hydraulic and acid fracturing, as well as matrix acidizing- which present a risk to our water resources. Information about the risks of fracking and other well stimulation treatments is exponentially increasing; peer-reviewed literature overwhelmingly shows risk or actual impacts to water, public health, and air quality from use of these techniques.
Banning these practices in Florida is the Conservancy’s top state legislative priority.
Florida has a unique geology and hydrology. Florida’s citizens not only depend on underground aquifers for most of our drinking water, but also expect a high quality of life and unspoiled environment to support our tourism economy. Additionally, these techniques require large quantities of fresh water.
In the past, oil companies in Collier County have been permitted to use millions of gallons of water per year from prime drinking water sources for this industrial use. During hydraulic fracturing and other chemical treatments, freshwater is mixed with chemicals and injected into the well. Not all of this water is recovered, but what is recovered is toxic and should not be recycled or reused.
Yet, the state’s oil reserves are only about 1/10th of 1% of total U.S. oil reserves. The quality of the oil in the southwest Florida Sunniland Trend, where well stimulation treatments have been used previously, is poor and not typically used for gasoline. It is not worth the risk to drinking water supply and other water resources to utilize these techniques in Florida.
2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE
For the second year in a row, Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) introduced legislation that would ban fracking and other well stimulation treatments in the state of Florida. Both SB462, and its companion HB237 – introduced by Representative Kathleen Peters (R-Treasure Island) - received a large number of co-sponsors from both Republicans and Democrats. We thank Senator Bradley and Senator Book for scheduling the bill to be heard in two of its Senate committees. These committees unanimously supported the fracking ban. We also thank Senator Farmer for proposing a last minute amendment to try and advance a fracking ban.
Unfortunately, no ban was passed in the 2018 legislative session. The major hurdle was seeing the bill advance in the House of Representatives. Like last year, Speaker Richard Corcoran and Majority Leader Representative Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero) have prevented HB237 from receiving a fair hearing, as the bill was not scheduled in any of its committees. These protective bills are needed to protect our most important natural resource: our waters. Although the bill was stifled from progressing this legislative session, the Conservancy and our partners remain committed to seeing a ban pass.
2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
A statewide ban on fracking and extreme well stimulation treatments is the Conservancy’s top state legislative priority.
Thank you to sponsors of the 2019 comprehensive and protective fracking ban bills (Senator Montford SB 314, Senator Stewart SB 146, and Representative Fitzenhagen HB 239). These bills contain language that would have banned all forms of extreme well stimulation treatments, including high pressure hydraulic and acid fracturing, as well as low pressure matrix acidizing.
Two other bills (SB 7064 by Senator Albritton and HB 7029 by Representative Raschein) were also introduced and failed to truly ban these practices. Thankfully, these bills did not pass to become law. Unfortunately, neither did the good ban bills.
Advanced well stimulation treatments –including hydraulic/acid fracturing and matrix acidizing- are used to alter the natural geology around an oil well and increase recovery of oil and gas. They all use dangerous chemical concoctions which include known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disrupters, and more. These techniques also use large amounts of freshwater for a one-time industrial use, placing these operations in competition with the environment, public, and agriculture for limited water supply.
The Conservancy will oppose any legislation that does not ban all forms of risky well stimulation treatment.
Read more about our 2019 legislative efforts here, and here.