Potential Impacts Of Fracking On Drinking Water, (EPA.gov)
Americans have been understandably horrified by what Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has done to residents of Flint, Mich., by essentially taking away local government control from entire communities by appointing "emergency managers," and then allowing those in Flint to switch drinking water sources that subsequently poisoned the population with lead laced water. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause irreversible brain damage, something Snyder and fellow Republicans are happily ignoring. GOP Presidential candidate Jeb! Bush said Snyder was doing a great job, and Marco Rubio simply blew the entire thing off while saying he hadn't bothered to look into it.
This is a pattern in the Republican Party. It's a truly toxic mix of money and politics, be it through cost cutting to the detriment of citizens or the enrichment of those same Republican politicians.
Now, in exchange for just a few thousand dollars in donations from oil and gas companies, the Florida GOP is pushing ahead to allow fracking in Florida, despite the fact that the process introduces carcinogens like benzene into drinking water. Worse, they want to prevent local governments from doing anything about it.
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to understand that introducing carcinogens into Florida's drinking water, not to mention all the other damage fracking does, is a really stupid thing to do. But hey, Republicans in Tallahassee are certainly not holding themselves out to be mensa worthy in their decision making here. Their bill "bans the practice until state environmental regulators complete a study in 2017 to determine what potential impact the operations will have on the state's geology and fragile water supply." But Rick Scott's state environmental regulators have hardly been proved to be trustworthy where the environment is concerned. To say further that Scott or Republican lawmakers are concerned with the health and well being of Floridans is laughable.
Democrats tried to introduce more than 20 amendments that would have allowed local governments to regulate the activity, impose testing of water quality and water wells, study the effects of the fracking chemicals on human health, and require local voter approval before fracking activities begin. All were rejected.
Why? Well, consider this "reasoning" from Republican Ray Rodrigues:
"I recognize that this bill is in the center of the storm of controversy," said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, who has sponsored the bill for the last four years.
He said that he has heard three arguments during that time: that this activity can't be done safely and it threatens human life, that it is not compatible with the state's environment and that technology does not exist to allow it to be done without poisoning the state's water.
But, he said, the state has seen similar controversies — such as whether to allow alternate current electricity into homes, which was banned in some states; whether to allow for automobiles on the state's roads; and whether to allow submerged lands to help launch astronauts to put man on the moon.
"The controversies have always been the same," he said. "Are we going to react with fear … or with courage?"
"Fear or courage?" How about reacting to facts? But then, if Rodrigues and his fellow Republicans were interested in facts, they wouldn't be working so hard to allow the fracking companies avoid disclosure of all those chemicals they would be using in addition to benzene, a known carcinogen. Rodrigues has heard the arguments against this, but he's going to just ignore them anyway.
But Rodrigues wasn't finished being "courageous" in the face of real fears from other lawmakers:
One amendment by Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, to study the impact of the fracking chemicals on pregnant mothers, unborn babies and other human health, won the support of at least one Republican, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.
"If fracking hurts unborn babies and if it is proven that fracking hurts unborn babies then should we let fracking continue?" Gaetz said.
But Rodrigues said the amendment wasn't needed because the study will look at the impact on people's health.
"The study" by the Scott-world crack state environmental regulators "will look at the impact on people's health?" Will they look at the impact in a similar fashion that Michigan governor Rick Snyder used to look at the impact of lead in the Flint water supply, which was essentially looking the other way? Does anyone who's been paying attention to Republicans and Rick Scott all these years doubt this is exactly what would happen? They're certainly looking the other way now by pushing ahead with this bill. Their arguments above in favor of fracking are ridiculous.
...the oil and gas industry contributed at least $443,000 to the political committees of top Republican lawmakers since the last election.
The top contributor, the Barron Collier Companies, which wants a permit to use hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and gas in Naples, steered $178,000 to lawmakers since December 2014, including $115,000 since July. Other members of the petroleum industry have contributed $265,000 this election cycle.
I would add that, for a few thousand in donations, being stupid comes cheap if you're a Florida lawmaker, while the cost to Floridians drinking carcinogens would be high and deadly. But that doesn't even cover all the other damage fracking could do, as stated in the same story by someone who knows:
On Monday, the House Democrats invited a landowner and former fracking industry worker from Pennsylvania to talk about their state's experience with fracking. They said that 10,000 wells, located in every county in the state, have been cited for health and safety violations.
"This will destroy the state like you can't imagine," said Ray Kemble, a former fracking industry worker from Dimock, Pa., at a news conference.
Do the voters in Florida who have already been victimized over and over again by incompetent GOP politicians want a say in whether or not they're forced to drink carcinogens from tap water they can also set on fire while hoping the ground they stand on doesn't collapse into a fracking-induced sinkhole? Probably not. But their choice in the matter is being legislated away right now.
Unless Florida voters start speaking up against the Republicans in the legislature now, they might as well resign themselves to get in line behind the residents of Flint, Michigan, whose voices were silenced against their will, and are now paying a high price that can so far only be determined as an estimate.