Op-Ed

Fracking will destroy residents’ way of life

Flores
Flores

I believe in protecting our way of life and putting America’s families first. Fracking puts people and the water that sustains us at risk. That’s why I am asking my fellow Republicans in the Florida State Senate to say no to fracking in the Sunshine State.

Senate Bill 318, which will likely come to a vote this week, will open the way to oil and gas extraction by hydraulic fracking in Florida.

Fracking involves freeing gases trapped deep underground by fracturing rock with large amounts of water and toxic chemicals. This poses a threat to water supplies in surrounding communities.

Fracking advocates claim it could create new jobs — although the number of jobs gained has been severely overstated by industry supporters in other states. A responsible approach requires us to consider the hazards involved to families, employees and all Floridians.

Decision-makers around the country have weighed the costs and benefits of this technology — New York, for example, studied fracking for seven years — and most leaders have concluded that the dangers posed to communities by fracking far outweigh the benefits. Elected officials in 31 counties and 46 cities in Florida have reached the same conclusion and have voted to oppose these bills. Senate Bill 318 overturns those bans, denying these local leaders their right to protect their constituents.

Protecting our communities from environmental risks should never be a partisan issue. The flooding of coastal neighborhoods during king tides doesn’t distinguish between households that vote Democrat and those that vote Republican. The intrusion of salt water into our drinking-water supplies doesn’t discriminate on partisan lines, nor will the storm surges that the Florida State Department warns will steadily increase.

Fracking threatens our environment and economy in four ways:

▪ It’s a dirty technology. It unleashes methane — a gas far more powerful than carbon dioxide in fueling the changing environment, threatening many Floridians’ way of life.

▪ Fracking adds a new threat to Floridians’ drinking water. By pumping toxic chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas, fracking threatens chemical contamination of inland groundwater.

▪ Fracking poses serious health risks. Wastewater containing the chemicals used in fracking have been shown to cause cancer, death, birth defects and other severe health problems.

▪ Florida’s economy depends on clean water and thriving ecosystems. We must not risk our powerful economic engines — tourism and agriculture — for the sake of this dangerous, needless and obsolete technology.

Fracking takes our state backward and multiplies the environmental and health risks we face. Instead, we should be encouraging entrepreneurship that builds prosperity through new technologies, addressing our need for jobs and energy through safer, more sustainable choices that mitigate rather than escalate environmental threats to our way of life.

Anitere Flores is the Florida state senator from District 37.

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