Local Groups Discuss Upcoming Oil And Gas Legislation

Feb 10, 2015

Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU

Environmental and political groups want the Florida Legislature to tackle oil and gas laws this year. The League of Women Voters of Collier County held a luncheon on Monday aimed at getting their members educated on the future of oil exploration in Florida.

League President Becky Newell said her organization is keeping an eye on the possible expansion of oil drilling in the state—and particularly in Southwest Florida.

“This is an official position of the League that we are very concerned about water quality and that we are opposed as a state league to hydraulic fracking in whatever form it takes in Florida,” she said.

More than a year ago, a Texas-based oil company hydraulically fractured—or fracked—the Collier Hogan oil well.

State officials eventually closed that well and revoked the company’s permits.

"What happened at the Hogan well can happen again and again until we get at the systemic, legal and regulatory deficiencies." -- Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

The fight isn’t over, though. That’s what Jennifer Hecker with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida told members of the League of Women Voters.

She said even though the Hogan well is shut down, the underlying problems are still there.

“What happened at the Hogan well can happen again and again until we get at the systemic, legal and regulatory deficiencies,” Hecker said. “That’s what we need to do now is parlay what we’ve learned from what we have gone through this past year into meaningful and comprehensive oil legislation.”

There is a series of things Hecker said needs to change.

For one: she said state law currently makes it really hard for regulators to monitor companies they give oil permits to.

Hecker said penalties for breaking state laws are also too weak, but she agrees with the League that there really shouldn’t be fracking in the state right now.

Hecker said we don’t have enough information about what it does to our water supply among other things.

Lawmakers have said they plan on tackling oil and gas laws when they convene in March.