REPORT BACK ON COMMISSION MEETING: We've been fracked and now we've been "screwed" as one Commissioner put it in a text message...
How far will the Collier County Commission go to shut up the public? First they took our signs. Then after we submitted forms to speak on Item 10.A. regarding oil legislation, they pulled Item 10.A off the agenda and refused to hear comment on it. After we resubmitted forms to speak during Item 7 Public Comment, which the Agenda said would be heard, per standard policy, no sooner than 1:00 pm, they rushed through all the agenda items, including dropping five Agenda items, and ended the meeting before noon so that they would not have to hear our comments at 1:00 p.m. We’ve been fracked and now we’ve been “screwed,” as one Commissioner put it a text message.
I find it beyond belief that in a participatory democracy elected officials would go through so much trouble to silence the public. With the exception of Commissioner Penny Taylor, the Board has betrayed the public trust. Below is the speech I was prohibited from presenting. My current position is that no amount of regulation will ever make this new type of irresponsible Everglades oil drilling and fracking safe. It’s time to kill the bills. It’s apparent that SB 1468 and HB 1205 have been written by and for the gas industry and would provide us with nothing more than the appearance of new oil and gas regulations. They do not address the concerns of Collier County and would not even regulate the unauthorized fracking that occurred at the Hogan well. We need to close up not create more loopholes for industry.
The speech no one heard...BOARD MEETING, STRONGER OIL AND GAS REGULATIONS, KAREN DWYER, PH.D., STONECRAB ALLLIANCE, 239-404-2171, email@example.com
What happened? Where are the strong oil and gas regulations we were promised in November after unauthorized fracking hazarded our water supply and led to State fines, revocation, and a still pending lawsuit for cleanup.
In June you sued DEP; in October you relinquished your lawsuit since DEP agreed to work with you to secure stronger oil and gas regulations; in October you adopted Inland Oil Drilling and Fracking as your top 2015 Legislative Priority; and in November you accepted a report by AECOM that included 18 recommendations to strengthen Florida oil and gas laws.
Our point is that Collier County is a MAJOR stakeholder and ground zero for fracking in Florida. Yet we have not seen the county lobbyist address the oil regulation bills, even though S.B. 1468 and H.B. 1205 do not, I repeat, DO NOT address County concerns and priorities and would not even regulate the fracking that occurred at the Hogan well.
With only two weeks left in the legislative session, we urge the County to lobby for stronger oil and gas laws. We know the County provided recommendations to DEP, but DEP ignored them. Out of your 18 AECOM recommendations, only one was addressed. Out of your 4 Senate and House bill recommendations, none. We find it beyond belief that DEP would ignore the county for whom these bills were written. We urge the County to address their recommendations to the bill sponsors and all the legislators who can introduce desperately needed amendments. DEP cannot be trusted to protect our underground sources of drinking water; their negligence is close to criminal. Talk with everyone. Our number one concern, like you, are the regulatory loopholes in the proposed bills that would enable industry to repeat the fracking that occurred at the Hogan well and keep secret the chemicals and concentrations used. We need to close up not create more loopholes.
To conclude, please direct your lobbyist to secure stronger oil and gas laws—like those you recommended or the ones I’m submitting. Weak bills will not protect our water and community from irresponsible oil drilling and fracking. We need strong laws and a DEP that will enforce them. If you can’t get the bills amended, withdraw support from them and instead adopt local resolutions to prohibit new irresponsible Everglades oil drilling and fracking.
On back of my speech...some recommendations to the Commissioners.... Support an Amended SB 1468 and HB 1205
SB 1468 and HB 1205 has been written by and for the gas industry and would provide us with nothing more than the appearance of new oil and gas regulations. It does not address the concerns of Collier County and would not even regulate the unauthorized fracking that occurred at the Hogan well. With only two weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, the only way we'd recommend the County support SB 1468 and HB 1205 (sponsored by Senator Richter and Rep. Rodrigues respectively) would be if they were amended to include the following modifications.
Broaden the definition of “high pressure well stimulation” to include all well stimulation. The proposed definition in SB 1468 and HB 1205 excludes operations that use under 100,000 gallons of fluid and dissolve rather than fracture rock. Consequently this definition would not capture acidizing proposals which are common in Florida, involve the injection of toxic chemicals, pose a risk to drinking water, and can be pursued without a permit. Include language to prohibit the use of drinking water supplies for well stimulation. Well stimulation operations rely on hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. After being injected into the ground, this water cannot be reused as drinking water and is permanently removed from drinking water supplies. SB 1468 and HB 1205 should require the use of alternative water instead of drinking water. Require potential pathways for contamination be addressed prior to well permitting. Improperly plugged and abandoned wells provide a pathway for fluids injected into nearby production wells to migrate into water supplies. SB 1468 and HB 1205 must require all production wells be sited at least two miles from improperly plugged abandoned wells or those abandoned wells re-plugged to current standards. Require well operators hold liability insurance and be responsible for all remediation. Many other states require well operators hold liability insurance to cover the cost of remediation in the event of an accident on site. SB 1468 and HB 1205 does not, nor does they require increased bonds for all projects using riskier well stimulation treatments. Further, drillers should be held accountable for any and all remediation associated with contamination. Without these requirements, the state may be responsible for expensive site cleanup in the event of an accident. Establish buffers from residential areas, schools, and environmentally sensitive lands. Well sites can release harmful air and water pollutants and thus are not compatible with all land uses. SB 1468 and HB 1205 should require a 1 mile buffer between an oil well and any source of drinking water, wildlife preserve, residential area, or school. Require chemical information be disclosed to the public on a state-maintained database. DEP should disclose the chemicals used in a well stimulation to the public on state-maintained database — not only on the FracFocus industry site. Relying solely on a third-party industry site for disclosure does not provide the same assurances or accountability that state public records laws are being properly upheld. For the record, the Stonecrab Alliance supports a ban on all forms of extreme extraction AND stronger oil and gas regulations. We need both as well as local ordinances and conditional land use resolutions to protect our water and communities.
seaside goldenrod (yellow) and blanket flower are VERY drought tolerant here in SW Florida, and can take sandy well drained soils. They both provide nectar for native and honey bees and loads of other important insects. Also, they really are beautiful!
As Bob Dylan wrote, "The times they are a changin'..." and our weather (daily) and climate (year to year trends) certainly are. We can no longer count on rain of a certain amount at certain times of the year. We can no longer be sure we won't get a freeze or a drought only on rare occasions.
Mix all that with home landscaping and...what do we do?
The best answer for ALL landscaping issues in my mind will always be go NATIVE!
However, for your foundation plantings, the ones that are to survive if you could never water again, MUST be the toughest, most drought tolerant, AND most tolerant of temperature changes of any native plants you can get. No mater where you live, even in the golden range of 5-9, we all need to go this route to reduce our watering out in the yard. That's water we need for drinking!
And, in zones lower than 5 and in 10-11 where I am now, it's even more important to go native and tough. Our conditions are the harshest, so we need to access the native plant nurseries in our region. If that means driving for two hours to get to one, so be it. It really is that important.
This will also make our home landscapes hospitable to wildlife. If you love birds, be sure to create layers. Take a look at the BTF plans. Even though created for Florida, the principles are the same. Plant should be no more than 15 feet tall at maturity, so no issues with power lines, or a need to have a tree trimmer. Use native shrubs that are tough and provide berries for birds and flowers for butterflies. If you have room, a small, medium or large tree(s) to help provide shade, and a small sunny area for wildflowers and a place for native bees and other insects. Do NOT amend the soil, use organic mulch and add compost if needed, that's all. The plants need to send their roots out into the surrounding soil to get anchored, and to find the water and nutrients they need.
I will try to share more ideas to help those of us in the toughest zones do better with what we have. Every time I watch a garden show, very little of what I see works for south Florida. They always seem to focus on zones 5-8, and the use of non natives is still predominant. My exception will be food plants, but please, if you live in zones 10-11, be sure the food plants you use are not listed as invasive in your area.