Protecting Water in the 2018 Florida Legislative Session

Florida Capitol Building / photo: istock, happyjones

The Florida Legislature is in full swing with the end of session looming on March 9, 2018. As in past years, there are bills on critical water and protecting local government rights sitting in Committee with the clock ticking. 

Ban on Well Stimulation (Fracking).

Companion bills, SB 462/HB237, have been introduced by Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) and Representative Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg). These bills would prohibit the state from issuing permits for drilling, or operating wells to conduct well stimulation (fracking). Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of pressurized water with chemicals and sand into the earth to break up rock and extract oil and gas. This toxic combination threatens the water supply and health of millions of residents.

Local Governments Enacting Pollution Prevention Measures

Hundreds of local governments across Florida are proposing or have enacted policies and regulations for their communities with a pollution prevention strategy. Topics include placing a ban on fracking, banning plastic bags, and beverage deposit fees. Unfortunately, there are special interests groups lobbying key state lawmakers (and the Governor) to have only the state, not municipalities or the public, decide how they can protect public health and the environment. We do see a few bills this session that would make some movement in the right direction.

There are currently bills sitting in Senate and House Committees that would help local governments. In the Senate, Senator Jose Rodriguez (D - Miami) has introduced SB 348, which would create a pilot program to regulate or ban disposable or plastic bags. Senator Kevin Rader (D – Palm Beach) introduced SB 1856, which would create the Florida Beverage Container Deposit Act. This requires dealers and consumers to pay a deposit fee for certain beverage containers. There are 11 states across the country that have had successful deposit fee programs for decades. As one of the largest states in the US, it is time for Florida to put this recycling/reuse program in place.