Watch out, corporate Democrats—Republicans are coming after your environmentally-conscious voters. Republican lawmakers in Florida are currently leading the fight to ban fracking statewide.
That’s right—Republicans, who have historically denied that climate change is caused by human activity, just upstaged Democrats (like Hillary Clinton) who refuse to run on an anti-fracking platform. Democrats are far from the champions they claim to be on environmental issues, but liberals typically expect a bit more from them, simply because they acknowledge climate change exists.
State Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, introduced a bill that would ban fracking in the state of Florida, with support on both sides of the aisle. “This bill is concise and straightforward: it bans fracking of all types in Florida”, said State Sen. Young.
Young’s bill, which will be considered during the current legislative session that started March 7, “prohibit[s] the performance of advanced well stimulation treatments”, and states that well operation and other drilling permits are not to be used for fracking purposes. On the first day of the current session, members of the committee advanced the bill, but it has two more steps before facing the full Senate.
It is worth noting that Young recently had a change of heart on her fracking stance. During a 2016 legislative session, a bill was introduced that could have paved the way for fracking in the state. As a state representative last year, Young voted for that bill. The bill passed the State House but died in the Senate, thanks to pressure from environmentalists, who “flooded” legislative committee rooms in Tallahassee. Young said her stance changed after meeting with stakeholders and “exhausting hours of research and soul-searching.”
The sponsor of last year’s failed bill, Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, is now the State House majority leader. So, just in case Young’s bill does not pass, a similar bill was introduced to the State House by another Republican, Rep. Mike Miller, representing the Orlando area. He is one of nine total Republicans supporting the bill, and it also has the support of several Democrats.
Fracking opponents were in Tallahassee again this Wednesday, but this time, they were attending a rally showing support for Young’s bill. Young spoke at the rally, along with one of the Republicans backing the bill, State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater.
Two Democrats from Southern Florida, State Sen. Gary Farmer and State Rep. Evan Jenne, both publicly support Young’s efforts to ban fracking. Farmer filed a Senate bill and proposed a constitutional amendment to ban fracking. Jenne has proposed bills to ban fracking in each legislative session since 2015, including this year, but his previously proposed bills never received hearings.
“I want to keep as many options available in case we have problems” with Young’s bill, Jenne said.
According to a report by Floridians Against Fracking, 90 communities have introduced measures seeking to ban fracking practices. In Southern Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward counties banned fracking last year. Palm Beach County also publicly supports a statewide ban.
Oil and natural-gas drilling has taken place in parts of Florida for decades, but we do not have any current fracking practices. Floridians live on top of our water supply, and when it runs dry, our homes (and Porsche dealerships) get swallowed in our infamous sinkholes. Our aquifer is made of porous limestone, and is thought to be especially vulnerable to chemical leaks.
Bipartisan support of this bill shows that conservative Floridians are becoming as environmentally conscious as their liberal neighbors. This is a trend that needs to continue nationwide, for the sake of our planet, and for the benefit of our wallets.
Vermont and New York are currently the only states with complete fracking bans, but lawmakers in Maryland and Nevada are considering bans on fracking this year.
Corporate Democrats should take notice of the popularity of this bipartisan bill, as midterm elections will be here before we know it. Progressives will not only run on anti-fracking platforms, but will also publicly refuse to take campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry—and they’ll win by doing so.
Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird