Lawmakers, Environmentalists Push For State Fracking Ban

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A group of lawmakers rallied with environmental activists Wednesday at the Capitol to push for a statewide ban on fracking.

Sen. Jack Latvala and Sen. Dana Young called on supporters of Senate and House bills that would ban the controversial oil and gas drilling practice to press House leaders to hear the issue.

“If you encourage the House of Representatives to take up our ban and at least give it a hearing, I think the members will do the right thing and pass it,” said Young, a former House majority leader who is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill.

The House bill, which is co-sponsored by nine Republicans and 11 Democrats, has not been heard in committees.

Environmental advocacy groups including Environment Florida and Food and Water Watch organized the rally, with supporters hoping the House will change course from last year when it approved a controversial bill that included preempting local ordinances aimed at preventing fracking.

Supporters of last year’s House bill argued that it would set up a regulatory framework to address the potential of fracking in the state. Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, one of the co-sponsors of this year’s House bill, said the practice “makes no sense economically” in Florida and said she would fight for a ban in the House.

Young’s bill passed the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation by a 5-0 vote this month over the objections of energy industry groups, which argue, in part, that fracking leads to lower energy costs for consumers.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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