Senators seek safety for drinking water and wildlife in the Sunshine State

Sen. Darren Soto

Sen. Darren Soto

Sen. Dwight Bullard

Sen. Dwight Bullard

By Travis Milton

Outlook Writer

As the 2016 legislative session is right around the corner in the capital city of the sunshine state, Democratic Senators Darren Soto and Dwight Bullard have created a bill that could help residents in more ways than none.

Senate Bill 166, entitled the “Oil and Natural Gas Production or Recovery,” is a bill defining the terms “hydraulic fracturing” better known as “fracking” and well stimulation treatment. The bill prohibits persons from engaging in hydraulic fracturing in the state or waters near the state along with prohibiting persons from disposing of related materials and byproducts of fracturing.

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside, according to BBC. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure, which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

“The dangers presented by unregulated drilling are substantial. Senator Soto and I wanted to make sure that no harm came to the people of Florida because of some unsavory drilling practices,” said Senator Bullard.

Ultimately, the reason both Senator Soto and Bullard created this bill was to keep drinking water in the state of Florida clean and pollution free along with keeping Florida wildlife safe.

The fracking that was taking place was in Collier County, Fla., that is near the Everglades, in search of natural gas that lies underground beneath limestone.

“I feel that it’s a great initiative to keep Floridians and all that visit the state safe along with protect(ing) the wildlife that live here as well,” says Howard Ferguson, a senior political science student.

This will now make the second attempt for a bill with the same purpose, but with different language to see the Senate floor. Ironically a bill with the same name, Senate Bill 166 died in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee back in May.

“For Florida residents it means that the water supply will not be at risk of pollution from drilling. I think that it’s critically important in terms of the areas that are in danger of having those practices take place. In terms of wildlife you’re able to protect the land that they inhabit,” said Bullard.

This important initiative is very resourceful here in the sunshine state for the fact that its seeking to keep residents safe and healthy with clean and clear drinking water.

“We get our groundwater from the same place they want to drill in. That’s just foolishness to be messing with the major source of our drinking water,” said Senator Soto.

Along with the fact that this bill poses to keep the water of the state clean but it will maintain the economy from risks that can hinder revenue.

“It maintains the state for future generations. Florida’s tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that drives our economy and the potential of endangering areas that folks like to visit that could put our economy at risk. I think it’s important for us to make sure we know where our bread is buttered and where we make our money and not put those things at risk,” Sen. Bullard said.

Along with Bullard’s comments Soto goes on to agree and talk about how years ago the state suffered a battle with the BP oil spill and how it affected the tourism industry.

“Even the perception of drilling and fracking puts the industry in jeopardy. We saw with the BP oil spill, Florida lost millions upon millions, so it’s just not worth the risk,” said Soto.

If passed during the 2016 legislative session, Senate Bill 166 will go into effect on July 1, 2016 and fracking will be monitored throughout the state by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Until then, the bill will sit in committee as the Senators are out and about in efforts to ask counties to adopt a fracking ban ordinance as a back-up plan if the state passes a preemption bill.

“We strongly encourage county commissions across the state to protect their citizens, their drinking water, and their businesses by passing a fracking ban,” Soto says.

For more information on Senate Bill 166 visit