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Environment

Local Lawmaker Says Fracking Bills Are Likely Dead In The Legislature

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 A fracking bill sponsored by a Southwest Florida lawmaker likely won’t become law yet again this year.

State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, has been trying to get a bill passed that would require companies to disclose what chemicals they use when fracking, which is a way to mine for natural gas.

Last year, his bill got bipartisan support and passed in the Florida House. However, it didn’t make it through the Senate, but things have changed in the past year.

Rodrigues said many House Democrats that once voted for the bill are now voting against it as it moves through legislative committees. He said the bill has become partisan, which is a sign it likely won’t pass.

“When you are dealing with a situation as controversial as a public registry disclosing the chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing, it really requires a broad range of support and isn’t something that should be pushed through on a party line,” he said.

Environmentalists and Democrats have mostly taken issue with Rodrigues’ companion bill, which allows companies to not publicly disclose chemicals they say are “trade secrets.” Rodrigues said that bill is aimed at making his other bill consistent with federal law.

But mostly, opponents of Rodrigues’ bill worry these regulations will invite fracking. Rodrigues said that worry is misguided.

“Fracking could begin tomorrow in the state because it is already permitted and it’s already legal,” he explained. “So, these people that are fighting this that are concerned need to ask themselves a question: do they want to know what chemicals are put into the ground or not?”

Rodrigues said even though the bill is pretty much dead this year, he will sponsor it again next session.