The effort to prevent fracking in Florida cleared a major hurdle on Monday as the state senate's environmental conservation committee approved a bipartisan bill to ban fracking statewide by a 10-0 vote.
The bill would place a permanent ban on "advanced well stimulation techniques" for producing oil and gas, including fracking and acidizing. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting large volumes of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into oil and gas wells to break up underground rock formations and release raw fossil fuels. Acidizing is a similar technique that dissolves underground formations with corrosive acids.
The bill was introduced by State Sen. Dana Young, a Republican from Tampa who said in a statement that the legislation is a "priority" for protecting "drinking water and our one-of-a-kind natural resources."
Along with several Republican cosponsors, Young appears to be taking a not-in-my-backyard-style departure from the GOP party line. Republicans on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the country have long worked to dismantle environmental regulations and support the rapid expansion of fracking, which has stoked nationwide controversy over drinking water contamination, air pollution and the disposal of fracking wastewater.
Now, under the Trump administration, efforts to sweep away environmental protections and expand oil and gas production have gone into hyper drive, particularly on public land. However, the industry has hit a snag in Florida, where both Democrats and Republicans remain concerned about potential impacts that industrial oil and gas development could have on the Sunshine State's rich natural resources and tourism-heavy economy.