Activists Rally to Stop Fracking in Florida

Activists that stuck around until the end of the rally pose for the press
Photo courtesy of Khadijah Johnson

Dozens of anti-fracking activists rallied outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon to protest fracking in Florida, the disputable drilling practice, and contest GOP-backed bills to regulate it.

Some stood roadside with signs reading “frack no!” and “no drill no spill” to engage drivers passing by.

Activist from across the nation spoke at the event, calling out legislators who have been pushing the fracking bills forward.

So far, House Bill 191 and Senate Bill 318 that would regulate fracking have gained more traction in the GOP-led Legislature.

Senator Darren Soto, D- Orange County, introduced SB 166 that would ban fracking in Florida.

As you all come forward and go into the capitol and talk to the house and senate, remind them of our core beliefs; they should be protecting sensitive land, not exploiting [it],” Soto said.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock. By drilling down into the earth, 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 term fracking refers to how the rock is fractured apart by the high-pressure mixture.

Drilling companies suggest trillions of cubic feet of shale gas and oil may be recoverable through this process.

Though fracking has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices, it has prompted environmental concerns.

Environmentalists say potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. Anti-fracking activists that came to the Capitol brought their contaminated groundwater.

Craig Stevens is a sixth generation landowner in Silver Lake Township, Pennsylvania who said he’s seen first hand destruction

of the oil and gas industry, as fracking has taken over his family’s land in Pennsylvania.

He held up a bottle of contaminated water and dared pro-fracking legislators to “drink it,” and presented a 1,000-page stack of investigations against the Department of Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania.

“They’ll tell you there’s no cases of water contamination from gas or oil drilling anywhere, [but] every one of these documents is an individual investigation telling you your water is contaminated by natural gas drilling in your area,” Stevens indicated.

Fetty Osceola, a Miccosukee tribal member and co-organizer for The Walk for Mother Earth, explained how companies in the area are seeking permits to conduct seismic testing, and eventually oil drilling.  

Osceola resides in the Big Cypress Reserve in the Everglades.

“Florida spoke out loud when they voted for Amendment 1 – when they voted to protect our water, our springs, our environment… You need to remind the legislators that they don’t decide for you, they speak for you,” Ocseola stated.