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Florida Fracking Debate Bubbles Up Again


Representative Evan Jenne is picking up the anti-fracking banner again, but this time with a breeze at his back. The Dania Beach Democrat is re-filing his fracking ban bill at a time when the industry is buffeted by local and national trends.

The controversial oil and gas drilling technique involves pumping fluids and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to break up rock formations. Jenne and others say it threatens underground water supplies, and that’s bad for tourism.

“You know, I don’t expect there to be Disney’s Wonderful World of Fracking any time soon.”

He doesn’t have high hopes Republican leaders will take up the bill next year. But he’s encouraged by recent events.

Bonita Springs, in oil-rich Southwest Florida, outlawed fracking in city limits in July. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced sweeping anti-carbon regulations.

“You know, I think it does give it momentum because in a sense, it has allowed more of a discussion on environmental issues and that we’ll always be appreciative of.”

Florida Petroleum Council executive director Dave Mica says the industry’s image is under siege. But he says fracking bans threaten America’s energy independence, and Florida jobs.

“In the 70s, we actually became one of the largest oil-producing states in the country.”

The Jay Fields in Northwest Florida alone produced 140,817 barrels of oil in May.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.