Op-Ed

Don’t worry, you’ll get used to the taste of benzene

TNS

For all you benzene lovers out there, now’s the time.

You need to get yourself to Tallahassee on Tuesday to show your support for the state plan to sanction extra benzene in the more than 50,000 miles of Florida’s waterways.

Work on your chanting skills. All together now: “We! Want! Leukemia! We! Want! Leukemia!”

Your services are needed to counter some environmental extremists who are hoping to pressure the governor-appointed Florida Environmental Regulation Commission to reject the state’s Department of Environmental Protection plan to increase the allowable limits of several cancer-causing chemicals in the state’s rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries.

Don’t they realize that this could be bad for the state’s oil and gas producers? These businesses have paid good money, nearly $500,000 in political contributions. So it would be a shame not to embrace the toxic chemicals they need to share with us in order to elevate Florida to its rightful destiny as Oklahoma with palm trees.

Even some lawmakers have shamefully joined the environmental whiners.

“I find it inconceivable that the department charged with protecting our environment would ease restrictions on dangerous chemicals that threaten the health of Florida’s waters and the people and industries that depend on them,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham wrote the head of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. “We should be doing all we can to protect our most valuable asset, not make it easier to pollute.

“I also worry the proposed changes could pave the way for hydraulic fracturing in Florida.”

No duh. Paving the way for hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is the whole point in allowing higher concentrations of these vital poisons to be present in state waters.

Fracking injects millions of gallons of water under high pressure miles underground to create mini-earthquakes in rock formations that free trapped natural gas, which is collected in a well. Benzene and scores of other chemicals are mixed with the water. And once injected into the ground, these contaminants have been found to make their way into underground water aquifers, a source of drinking water.

So it’s important we get more tolerant to cancer-causing toxins in the water supply as we press on to make Florida a fracking state.

We’re almost there, even though 32 of Florida’s 67 counties have already passed local laws or resolutions to ban fracking.

Those local measures don’t mean a thing. For the past three years, the Florida House has approved statewide fracking bills. The Florida Senate is moving a little more slowly, but it considered a fracking bill this year, and maybe next year will be the charm.

These bills have provisions that prohibit Florida’s cities and counties from banning fracking, and use the terminology “trade secrets” to classify the toxic chemicals injected into ground by the drilling companies during this process.

This would keep the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from being privy to the toxic chemicals used in future wells. Instead, the companies would disclose the chemicals used to FracFocus.org, an industry-friendly website that gives the appearance of public disclosure without much disclosure.

An analysis by two Texas newspapers of 12,410 chemical injection reports to FracFocus.org showed that in 10,120 of those cases, the companies were allowed to use the words “proprietary,” “secret,” or “confidential” to avoid public disclosure of the chemicals they were injecting into the ground.

So Tuesday’s vote to allow more benzene and other toxic chemicals into Florida’s waters is an important step for our drilling partners.

And it’s vitally important we get this vote done now while the seats for “local government” and “environmental community” representatives are vacant on the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission.

The last thing we need is more democracy on this issue.

But it would be nice to have a few cheerleaders outside the building. Just for appearance’s sake. Because it’s important to show that we Floridians are so ready to be massively injected.

All together now: “Poi-son us! Poi-son us! Poi-son us!”

Frank Cerabino writes for The Palm Beach Post.

© Copyright 2016 Cox Newspapers

  Comments