House Panel Sends Oil And Gas Law Revamp To Chamber Floor

Apr 14, 2015

Credit Center for Advanced Research and Teaching

A pair of bills pending in the legislature would strengthen Florida’s out-of-date laws on oil drilling. The review of the rules comes after a Texas oil company ran afoul of the state environmental protection agency last year.

The Department of Environmental Protection would get more authority to fine oil drillers. Those companies would also face tougher regulation and a more stringent permitting process. Environmental advocates are largely supportive of the proposal but have problems with an attached measure. It requires companies to disclose chemicals in a national database, but creates a public record exemption for those disclosures. Stephanie Kunkle is with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

“We want to make sure physicians and emergency room responders can address when there’s a contamination or a spill so they can treat and diagnose their patients," she said.

The legislation also mandates a study on the environmental impact of high-pressure drilling in the state. The oil and gas industry doesn’t like the increased regulations but its lobbyists are supporting the proposals.

“I think it’s in a form…it’s not perfect, but it addresses many of the concerns laid out by those interested in oil and gas regulation in the state.”

The bills cleared their last House committee Tuesday and have one more stop in the Senate before reaching the chamber floors.