South Dade News Leader: Levine Cava Seeks to Ban Fracking in Miami-Dade

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An ordinance banning fracking has passed an initial committee hearing at county hall.

The legislation was brought forwarrd by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who represents parts of South Dade, and would regulate and/or prohibit the well stimulation method of gas and oil exploration, commonly known as fracking.

There is a way to receive a variance, but it would require a public hearing and a positive vote from the board of County Commissioners.

Judging by the passionate response this ordinance got from the public last week in its preliminary form, a public hearing would be a daunting hurdle to jump over.

“This shouldn’t be just atheoretical ordinance, there is a proposed well site in Broward that possibly possesses a threat to the Miami-Dade water. They [the oil companies] are looking for sites in South Florida,” Jorge Aguilar warned at the public hearing.

Levine Cava thanked the crowd for showing up, showing passion, and making a compelling case.

“This commission has stood solidly behind the state ban,” Levine Cava said when addressing the dais.

She also acknowledged the situation in Southwest Florida where the oil and gas industry have set their targets on, and possibly even more of the South. She called the possibility “chilling.”

“This risk, the potential long term damage can not be compromised for the short term gain of a few,” said Levine Cava.

In it’s current form, the ordinance will serve as the rules in unincorporated parts of the county, and as a minimum standard for the incorporated portions.

The new article it creates is specifically for gas and oil exploration that utilizes well stimulation. Usually such tactics employed are a protected trade secret, and so no specifics in chemicals or methods are traditionally made public. And so the wording is broad while still specifically describing fracking.

It is described as “a well intervention, exploration, operation, or maintenance procedure performed by injecting fluid, which may include additives, into a rock formation to increase the rate of production at an oil or gas well by increasing the flow of hydrocarbons from the formation into the wellbore.”

But the ordinance does chiefly cite the “health, safety, welfare, comfort and convenience” of the county residents and their property rights as the driving force behind the steps.

The legislative findings state that potential impacts of such fracking would impact properties well past the immediate vicinity, possibly causing structural damage to buildings and foundations.

While variances are a possibility, they would only be granted if a hardship is shown by the literal enforcement of the regulations. Meanwhile the variance must be simpatico with the spirit of the ordinance and not result in harm to the land.

Fracking in Florida would mean using acids and chemicals said Levine Cava, and it could “pose a threat to the drinking water.”

Then of course it must be granted with a public hearing attached to it.

“I wanted to thank you all for your leadership. The ordinance passing last week sent a message to the state legislature,” said Pete Gonzalez who spoke during the public hearing. “It has no place here, and we already have enough threats to our drinking water.”

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