Published on July 8th, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan16
Florida County Goes To Court Over “Acid Fracking” Near Everglades
Fracking is simply not natural. It is, in fact, taking the “natural’ out of this idea of natural gas. And clear water is no longer free. Florida has a precarious vulnerability with the state’s water, waterways, and shores. In Florida, pollution in and destruction of the Everglades are some of the largest environmental problems. Even on a national level, they are high on that list. There is no miracle cure to the concerns of the Gulf. Challenged to free up life with progress, Florida must be quick in the bargain for ecological wellness, aquatic health.
Everglades water way on a rainy afternoon. Credit: Chauncey Davis
In Florida, concerns are for loss of biodiversity, storm conditions worsening due to man-made redirection and misuse of the state’s waterway, and general water and air pollution. But development marches on, and the Everglades is not an easy battle to win.
To bargain for quiet, free shores, Florida environmentalists mitigate excess fertilizers and pesticides rampantly dripping into Florida bays and the Gulf of Mexico. A few days ago, an article came out citing another concern. Greg Allen for NPR.org had a story, “Florida County Goes To Court Over ‘Acid Fracking’ Near Everglades.” He reports:
In southwest Florida, county officials are fighting the state over a new oil drilling process that’s known by many different names: acidification, acidizing, acid stimulation and acid fracking.
Collier County has charged that state regulators have been lax in their oversight of the drilling, jeopardizing public health and the environment.
Acid has long been used in oil drilling operations in Florida to dissolve and loosen the limestone bedrock. But a drilling operation near Naples, on the western edge of the Everglades, was something new. In December, Texas-based Dan A. Hughes Co. injected acid under pressure there — a process not used before in Florida.
The drilling companies were requested to cease this operation while the state studied the process. The company ignored this request.
“Within a matter of hours after we realized that the process was going forward, I issued a cease and desist order,” says Herschel Vinyard, secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.
With no consideration for this cease and desist order, that the company ignored, they continued drilling in-spite of the questionable legality. In the end, Florida and the driller endorsed a consent agreement, and the company consented to pay $25,000 fine and establish groundwater monitors.
NPR continues the story: “But in Collier County, where local officials, residents and environmental groups had already been raising concerns about the new drilling, the dispute between Hughes and the state remained secret. More than three months after the cease and desist order was issued, Collier County officials finally learned about it through a press release.”
“One of the frustrations with the Board of County Commissioners is all of the information that we’ve been receiving has been through the media,” says Tim Nance, a Collier County commissioner.
These new ‘technologies’ raise many concerns. However, Florida has out-of-date laws that will not even address the concerns. Of course, we’ve been seeing related battles and concerns in other parts of the country — California, New York, and Colorado, just to name a few states. CleanTechnica‘s Tina Casey often covers the twists and turns of this imminent environmental endangerment. See: “Fracking Wastewater Cited In Blackside Dace Die-Off,” which quotes a USGS frackingwaste water report; “Legal Bomeshell: New York Fracking Bans Could Cause Ripple Affect,” which identifies that a fundamental issue is fossil fuel industries being regilated under state and federal law, leaving local governments without means to bargain for their life and health.
Floridians, especially those in Naples, are getting a taste of that. NPR continues: “County commissioners asked state officials for a public meeting without success. Finally, Collier County went to court asking the state to revoke the oil driller’s permit. It’s similar to legal action to block fracking taken by local governments in other states like California, Colorado and New York. In Florida, Nance says the state needs to tighten regulation of drilling before the new oil boom goes any further.”
While oil fields have been in place in this area for nearly ¾ of a century, it is the unclear though likely harmful effects of horizontal drilling and “advanced” extraction techniques that concern residents. Jennifer Hecker, director of natural resource policy at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, believes the state needs to install deeper monitors. They must reach deep under the aquifer where Florida finds most of its drinking water.
This suppressed information remains with Florida’s oil and gas regulations. They do not mention of acid stimulation, hydraulic fracturing or other new extraction technologies. NPR continues being a light of information, “Hughes says that’s why it believes its operations are allowed under Florida law. Hecker says regulators and lawmakers need to take action before approving more drilling permits.”
“This horizontal drilling, the use of all of these chemicals, the high-pressure injection of those chemicals — that’s a whole different process than what we have traditionally seen here in Collier County, so we need to update the laws and regulations,” Hecker says. On this point at least, state regulators, local officials and environmental groups agree. Vinyard says he has asked his staff to develop recommendations on updating Florida’s oil and gas regulations.
Thanks to NPR for addressing this issue. This immediate concern.
For more on this sort of topic, US Water Woes Add Punch To AP Fracking Report is another good read. It is not just about moving this fracking to someone else’s town. Communities need to understand the risks to ecosystems and human life.
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