Published on July 8th, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Florida County Goes To Court Over “Acid Fracking” Near Everglades

July 8th, 2014 by  

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.

image credit:  Flicker Chauncey Davis Everglades and Turner River  Everglades water way on a rainy afternoonEverglades and Turner River 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 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.”

Credit: Bill Baker (CC BY-NC-ND license)

“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.

More Related Stories:

Five Reasons We Should Be Concerned About Fracking (Film)

North Carolina Republicans: “Reveal Fracking Chemicals, Go To Jail”

Can The EPA Make Fracking Safe

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • A nice primer on acid fracking:

    How Does Well Acidization Work to Stimulate Production?

    “Well acidizing is achieved by pumping acid into the well to dissolve limestone, dolomite and calcite cement between the sediment grains of the reservoir rocks. There are two types of acid treatment: matrix acidizing and fracture acidizing.”

    The most important issue is depth of formation being stimulated and the distance to groundwater. I’m not sure of the geology – but Florida gets its groundwater from the limestone aquifer.

    This is a perfect example of what happens when federal regulations on oil and gas exploration and production are non existent and the state in question is Florida.

    • Rick Kargaard

      A good link, but limited. It leads to another link which describe how fracturing works but is also limited limited in the description of how it is done.

      The depth of the formation determines the distance from aquifers but does not necessarily protect them.

      The integrity of the cap rock (the impermeable formation above the oil or gas bearing rock without which the oil and gas would not be there) is the important factor. Often there are several producing zones on top of each other and several layers of caprock.
      The caprock is compromised by the well bore so it is sealed at that point (cemented).
      The danger comes from a failure of this seal or the caprock, allowing “communication” between the formations. This is signaled by a sudden loss of pressure when fracking and the operation would be immediately shut down.
      I am not a petroleum engineer or geologist. This is my understanding from conversations with engineers and geologists. As such it may not be completely accurate and I would welcome corrections from petroleum engineers or geologists

      • You could go to the Society of Petroleum Engineers website and probably get all the info you’d like. Like I said it was a primer. I’ll do your googling for you, if you’d like, at $200/hr.

        Fracking issues relating to communications between the well/fractures and that which lies above are manyfold. And dependent upon the geology. Acid is used to fracture limestone or dolomite because it works splendidly. It essentially dissolves the formation matrix, forcing the pressurized mixture of proppants and other things even further out from the well casing, be it vertical or horizontal. Acid fracking isn’t used in shale and tight rock, given the matrix pH. Nonetheless, all fracking water is sort of acidic. Many drinking water aquifers are limestone.

        Well depth is essential and important due to roque vertical fractures. These would be fractures that extent thousands of feet in any and all direction. The rule of thumb is to have about 2,000 feet between the oil/gas formation and the groundwater aquifer. This rule of thumb was only looked at statistically. Sadly, they are finding out that roque fractures are more prevalent than they thought.

        Well casing failures are a problem, but could be rectified or the entire well abandoned. However, fractures cannot be plugged and will remain a pathway between the oil/gas formation and the surface for a very long long time.

        • Rick Kargaard

          I wish more people would take the time to research beyond blogs that agree with their point of view.
          I am capable of doing my own searches, but clues of where to look are always helpful.
          For $200 per hour I will take you on a tour of the oilpatch so you can get some first hand input. I will even provide the gasoline and vehicle, a compact of course.
          Now that we are finished sniping at each other we can be a little more respectful..
          Of course oil and gas migrate upwards and most would have reached the surface long ago if not for the presence of caprock. Formation pressure has a lot of influence and this is increased greatly during fracturing. This is quite momentary though and I doubt if much frac fluid or oil is forced upwards.
          Production of well lowers formation pressures and given enough time and pumping can even result in negative pressures.
          In my areas this vacum is utilized for disposal through wells that no longer produce

          • What would I see at a well field besides either a drill crew drilling or a bunch of wellheads and O&G appurtenances just sitting there. Probably would be best to check rock cores and geophysical data – sitting locked up at Schlumberger or others.

            From my obsessive reading and little respect for petroleum engineers (that was a deliberate School of Mines ChE v. PE slight), fracking opens up the once ultra low permeable rock for flow. So the fractures become the well sink. Unlike a conventional well, where the well sink area is equal to the well diameter and sink (screen) length – a fractured horizontal well (up to two miles) could have a well sink surface area almost approaching infinity (obviously that is an exaggeration).

            Much the the flow from tight formation is via secondary routes like natural fractures. Much of the hydrocarbon is tightly imbibed into the rock matrix – more than say sitting ready to escape to the well sink from the rock pores. The goal of fracking is to intercept these natural fractures. Making the path of tortuous travel for a hydrocarbon molecule less – as well is create a transport condition (delta P,H and C) for the hydrocarbon to desorb from the matrix out to the rock pores and towards the well sink.

            Hydrocarbon have been traveling to the surface for ever. Just really slowly. And at a rate which the natural conditions can either mineralize them to CO2 and water – or at a concentration which is benign. Fracking simply accelerates all this – especially if rogue fractures are creating super highways.

          • Rick Kargaard

            I don’t agree tha fracturing accelerates this to any degree of significance. After all the effects of the fracture are likely limited to a few feet from the well bore. Although increasing the producing area greatly.
            All this argued, there there are undoubtably areas and formations that should not be fractured because of the likelihood of error or accident causing irreverible problems.
            The petroleum industry in the united state is poorly regulated and what regulations there are often inconsistent with fact. Particularily municipal by-laws.
            Unless you are a trained and experienced geologist I fail to see what you could learn from rock cores.
            Talking to people in the field and observing the actual effects of oil and gas development could be of value.
            Forming opinions from internet or media pictures that are carefully chosen to reinforce a blogger opinion or advertizers goals does not give you a good picture of the industry. Our tour would include refineries, upgraders, pipeline installations, oilsands mining, SAGD operations, heavy oil production, coal bed methane production and much much more. All in the beautiful province of Aberta, with perhaps a side trip to the Bakken in Saskatchewan and North Dakota, and all with the use of as little as possible of gasoline. There are very few charging stations in the oilfield, as you might imagine

          • Rick Kargaard

            In fact, I think I could even lower that cost

          • I’m not trying to convince you Rick. You seem to drift off a lot, too. So maybe I need to go slow. You shouldn’t take my word on anything. Always do your own research. Or pay someone to do it for you. Working geologists aren’t going to give too much up for free. And are contracted and obligated to keep their mouths shut. Good ones working for O&G at least. So it’s a matter of getting interesting tidbits from various sources on our own.

            The real data isn’t in public domain – which was my point. Field visits are usually dog and pony shows. Subsurface data and an understanding of the lay of the land are both necessary.


            Here’s an API guide written for DOE on hydraulic fracturing.


            It’s pretty good. But not all is there.

            On rogue fractures:

            On the “unlikeliness” of fractures traveling beyond 600 meters:

            From the only study I’ve found – and it wasn’t a field study on fracking distance from Britain:

            in conclusion….

            “Based on the data analysed, natural fractures have the potential to grow upwards further than man-made ones. This is probably because they develop over much longer time scales and under the pressure of much greater volumes of fluid. The data indicate that very few stimulated hydraulic fractures propagate more than 350 metres. With drinking water aquifers typically being about 300 m below the surface, and most fracking occurring at depths of 2 to 3 km, it is extremely unlikely that a stimulated hydraulic fracture could connect the two zones.

            However, our research highlights the need for caution when developing shale gas or oil reserves and the importance of geological understanding. Based on the maximum recorded height of a stimulated hydraulic fracture, regulators should consider setting a distance limit of at least 600 metres between aquifers and shale gas targets, especially in new areas where fracture data is incomplete or absent.”

            There has been little to no US academic or industry studies on this issue – except after the fact – when the groundwater has become impacted – a fair distance – from the well.

          • Rick Kargaard

            I agree with most of your findings here and I think regulation is important.
            One thing, after the fact data does not have a lot of validity in some cases.
            I know of one case near where I was living of oil companies being blamed for gas migration into well water. Water coming out of taps could bubble and the bubbles could be burned.
            The problem was that i could remember lighting tap water gas 50 years ago, before any significant oil activity in the area. This is a common complaint of opponents of fracturing.
            The fact is that gas in aquifers and subsequently in well water is a commonly occuring and completely natural phenomenom in oil and gas producing areas.
            I am not really drifting , rather trying to address all the points.
            I have seen some environmental horrors perpetuated in the U.S. by oil companies and others. But all jurisdictions are not the same as all oil companies are not the same.
            I am likely a little sensitive with the amount of Alberta bashing, related to the oilpatch, that has been happening. Almost of which is far from the truth and perpetuated by people who have never seen Alberta and are unwilling to gain first hand experience.
            It doen’t take a dog and pony show to to experience the air of Fort McMurray or to travel the many hours it takes to drive the boreal forest in Alberta to our northern border.
            Alberta is one of the cleanest jurisdictions in North America
            Hence my offer to give you a tour. I am not afraid to show off Alberta or our oil industry.
            By the way, i have no direct association with the oil industry. .Nor am I paid or even encouraged by any. I simply live in a beautiful, clean province
            My offer to give you a tour is in good faith. I would do it for free if I could afford it but I am only a poor pensioner.

          • Rick Kargaard

            The API link is very good but the source would likely be eyed with suspicion by environmentalists. Also, it is long and not many will take the effort to read and understand it. I have similiar Canadian sources but they are usually called industry propaganda so I rarely use them.

          • bink

            Dont know which side of the argument you are on but I am a native Floridian and all of Florida should be off limits to fracking. The aquifer is where we get our drinking water and our limestone geology is like know other. we have connected caves that run throughout the state so, pollution could migrate to a much larger area. As a matter of fact one news show hired a diver in Hillsborough(Tampa) County Florida went to a cave entry and dove all the way to the Gulf of Mexico through a series of these caves traveling under buildings and roads etc… there is nothing like Florida’s topography or geologic landscape it is to sensitive and full of underground springs

          • bink

            the diver traveled 40 miles

          • Rick Kargaard

            You may be right, I also wonder if drilling in the gulf should be allowed. Espeially in the deeper water. I am not sure that it is not more danderous than fracking. Environmental damage that moves, as in groundwater, rivers, or large bodies of water, is the hardest to clean up and causes the most damage.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Seems like a casing failure would be discovered only when it was too late. The first sign would be pollutants in the aquifer?

          • Very true. It’s one of the problems with the go-go deployment with oil and gas development over the past 10 years of so. Another problem is that environmental protection has quickly moved to catch as catch can remediation. Which isn’t cheap. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have been interested in doing much subsurface characterization and environmental impact field studies before the act of drilling. Especially in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. New York did a pretty good job with laying out the concerns. We’ll see what happens with Illinois’ New Albany shale drilling starting up later this year or early next. There’s about a million conventional and unconventional wells drilled in the US and about 100,000 horizontal fracked wells already.

      • One more thing. The whole deal with fracking is to get at the cap rock. This is the tight formations above the source or reservoir that holds a boat load of hydrocarbons. Or a source rock like shale that formed when a bunch of living things died and settled on the silty clayey shallow oceans. And then got compressed and heated by time.

        So I guess my point is that fracking goes after what is tight and what was once thought as unrecoverable rock. Fracking can pretty much blast through anything.

Back to Top ↑