Time is of the essence to stop them!

As one legislative committee after another votes for pro-fracking bills, the obvious question becomes: “Who are these people listening to?” Certainly not the 65 local governments that support a statewide ban on fracking in Florida; certainly not the Florida Physicians for Social Responsibility who oppose fracking; certainly not the thousands of citizens that have called, sent emails and shown up at legislative meetings to oppose the pro-fracking bills, SB318 and HB191.

There are no ordinary citizens showing up to testify in favor of these bills. Even the paid lobbyists don’t always show up. So why are so many legislators, mostly Republicans, hell-bent on paving the way for fracking all across our state? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Florida’s aquifers are way too fragile and permeable to be filling them with the toxic chemicals that fracking requires. Never mind that fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Our water supplies are too inadequate in much of the state RIGHT NOW for us to encourage a new industry/technology that consumes enormous amounts of water. These are facts that aren’t even debatable.

After mentally connecting a few obvious dots, I surmised that the Koch Brothers could be a logical, mythologically powerful force behind all this. After all it is well known that they are deeply invested in the fracking business in many other states and Canada. Some media sources reported that they were very influential in the adoption of North Carolina’s pitifully weak fracking laws.

I started doing a little digging. When I googled fracking and the Koch Brothers, it took me to an announcement by Georgia-Pacific, a wholly-owned Koch company, stating that GP chemicals would ramp up production of proppant resin, a critical component of natural gas fracking. Hmmm . . . interesting.

Then I read up on GP’s proppant products, which are used to coat the base materials used for fracking (sand, ceramics and bauxite) and I see that it is made from tall oil and a slew of other chemicals, including Phenol-formaldehyde.  Tall oil is a by-product of Kraft pulp mills which would otherwise get burned int he mills’ boilers to produce energy.

Koch owns two pulp/paper mills in Florida and between them they produce a lot of tall oil. Surely it’s worth more as a component of their proppants used for fracking than it is as a waste product to be burned in a boiler. So Koch would profit from fracking in Florida in at least two ways: 1) they would expand the demand for fracking fluids; and 2) they could use more of their tall oil from their pulp/paper mills.

I have no proof right now, that Koch Industries is leaning on the Governor or the legislators who are pushing these extremely costly bills forward, but I will not be at all surprised when I do find proof that these notoriously self-serving billionaires are behind this.

There is still time for you to make your voice heard. Contact your State Senator today and tell him/her that fracking is just too dangerous for Florida. Here’s a few good reasons why:

  • Between 2005 and 2009, the 14 leading hydraulic fracturing companies in the United States used over 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 compounds.  More than 650 of these products contained chemicals that are known to be or are possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants. However, very few fracking fluids are subject to drinking water standards in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Florida’s geology does not provide “confinement,” i.e., injected fluids do not always remain in the zone where they are placed. DEP’s regulation of sewage injection has brought us this lesson. DEP let private consultants claim that sewage would be confined to the zone of injection for years, and ultimately sewage was detected in underground sources of drinking water. EPA concluded in a Federal Register notice that confinement in Florida’s underground aquifers was lacking. Of course then EPA created a special rule for Florida so the practice could continue until today and probably forever.
  • An assertion that all fracking fluids remain in the subsurface after injection is false.  Between 10 and 90% of the injected fluids comes to the surface with “produced water.”  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with this fact. What remains below will be in a free-flow from one aquifer to another.


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About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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