Florida Senate considering adding Everglades protections to controversial anti-fracking bill

Increased protections for the Everglades could be added to a controversial measure that would ban the oil- and gas-drilling technique known as fracking.

After about 90 minutes of public comment, the Senate Agriculture Committee delayed a vote until at least next week on the latest Senate anti-fracking proposal (SPB 7064). The delay will give time to consider changes based on testimony Monday, committee Chairman Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said.

Environmentalists raised concerns about part of the bill, saying it would leave open the possibility of a drilling technique that uses many of the same chemicals as fracking.

Albritton made clear after the meeting that, while he’s “open to discussions about changes” to the bill, the main issues raised by opponents wouldn’t be part of the revisions.

The process is intended to create fractures in rock formations resulting in the release of natural gas and oil.

But like with a House bill (HB 7029) backed last month by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee, environmentalists are concerned about the “high rate” definition in the Senate measure. The definition would not prohibit a technique called “matrix acidizing,” which utilizes many of the same chemicals used in the fracking process and dissolves rocks with acid instead of fracturing them with pressurized liquid.

David Cullen, a lobbyist for Sierra Club Florida, said by not addressing matrix acidizing, the proposal leaves “a loophole you can drive an oil truck through.”

The measure is being considered after DeSantis in January released a list of environmental proposals that included opposition to hydraulic fracturing.

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