Ed Pollister, who owns Pollister Drilling in Southwest Florida, told the Fort Myers New-Press last October that he asked state regulators about pursuing fracking. But after further research, he now says he won’t rule it out but “I’m not sure anymore that it’s going to be necessary.’’
Still, the mere mention of fracking raises alarms with environmental groups, who last month initially fought proposed state legislation requiring any company proposing to frack in Florida to disclose any chemicals they use in the process, fearing it would open the door to the technique. Florida doesn’t currently have specific fracking policies, said DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller, but the agency would review any request to assess environmental or public safety risks.
Franklin Adams, a board member of the Florida Wildlife Federation who lives near the proposed Golden Gates Estates well, praised government restrictions for helping minimize industry impacts but said fracking would increase water pollution risks and raise significant new concerns.
“The big question is what’s going down that hole,’’ he said. “Is there anything toxic?’’
Despite the flurry of interest, it’s unlikely drilling rigs will multiply overnight. Right now, there are only two rigs in Southwest Florida capable of horizontal drilling. And big oil companies haven’t yet shown interest, Collier’s Jones noted.
“What we have in South Florida may not be big enough for them,’’ he said.
Grigg predicts companies might sink perhaps a dozen new wells a year — enough, he believes, to revive what had been reduced to a cottage industry.
“It’s never going to be a big business,’’ he said, “but it most certainly could go from being an industry that has been in decline, in sunset, to an industry that’s in sunrise.’’