Fracking Victory in Florida!

Florida Panther at Big Cypress National Preserve. Photo credit: National Park Service/Ralph Arwood.As we Floridians continue to guard our coastlines against offshore drilling, Texas oil companies are quietly moving to drill for oil in our backyards using a technique known as “acid fracking” . Acid fracking involves injecting massive quantities of fresh water, toxic chemicals and even salt water into the limestone below Florida’s aquifer – dissolving it to free up dirty fossil fuels. Thirty percent of these injection fluids are not returned to the surface and these chemical could impact our groundwater, and the Gulf.In Collier County, east of Naples, residents banded together to fight against the proposed Golden Gate acid fracking project in their community. Great news! In a surprise move, the Dan A. Hughes oil company withdrew its permit to drill an exploratory well adjacent to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and announced late Tuesday that it would cease drilling activity in Florida, including its well near the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Hughes pulled out after it received a $25,000 illegal fracking fine from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in April, and hours ahead of its activity report deadline to DEP. In spite of its sudden departure, DEP has filed suit against the company. The company cited “diminishing oil returns” as its motive, but has faced massive resistance from activists and multiple legal complaints.This victory couldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the dedication and outpouring of support by residents who said NO to acid fracking in their backyards! Big thanks to the thousands of GRN supporters who also took action through our alert to say no to Florida acid fracking, and to all the Florida organizations who brought focus and attention to this critical issue. This is terrific news, but over a hundred thousand acres have already been leased for drilling in Collier County, and, as a recent Tampa Bay Times article pointed out, mining and groundwater rights have been sold under subdivisions throughout the state. Considering the relatively small amount of oil and gas reserves below our feet in Florida, the risk to our water is just not worth the “reward” for these destructive efforts. More action and vigilance is needed as drilling and fracking continues to be a focus for the Florida legislature (and not in a good way), so stay tuned. Cathy Harrelson is GRN’s Florida Organizer.

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