Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

Citizen Watchdog Group:
Florida Fracking Bill Is Tip of ALEC Iceberg

                     What is fracking? Click graphic

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Fracking isn't even legal in Florida, but state lawmakers have revived two bills (House Bill 157 and HB 71) that together would exempt oil and natural gas companies from disclosing the chemicals used in the extraction process, citing "trade secrets." That is, if hydraulic fracturing does become legal.

The legislation is similar to that passed in Illinois.

According to Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy, there is mounting evidence that the American Legislative Exchange Council is driving the bills.

"What we do know is that the two bills taken together closely match the ALEC agenda on fracking disclosure," he said.

Both bills are currently in Florida House subcommittees.

ALEC has faced criticism in recent years for its influence on state and federal leaders. Surgey said based on their analysis, ALEC was behind at least 13 bills in Florida's last legislative session. If fracking were legal in Florida, the two parts of the state where geology could support the process are southwest Florida's Lower Sunniland field and the Jay field in the Panhandle.

Another piece of environmental legislation in Florida that CMD believes is driven by ALEC is HB703. It would require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to consider the cost of implementing greenhouse gas reductions when developing a plan to meet federal regulations.

Surgery said Floridians should ask their legislators is they are a member of ALEC.

"We know that in previous sessions, there's been a lot of legislators from Florida who have been members of ALEC," he said.

ALEC does not publicly support individual bills, but lists "model legislation" on its website. The organization is classified as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, and their membership is primarily made up of self-identified conservative state lawmakers.

Graphic and some links added by the Observer

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