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Thursday, 24 December 2015 10:46

Estero Passes Fracking Ban to Close Out 2015

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Estero Passes Fracking Ban to Close Out 2015

By Trent

On the evening of Wednesday,
December 16th, the Village of Estero officially passed an ordinance
banning the practice of hydraulic fracturing within their town’s limits. In
doing so, they joined with Bonita Springs in barring the controversial gas
extraction method, and did so with wide popular support among their

“I believe the only potential action
we can take tonight is to ban fracking,” Vice Mayor Howard Levitan said, after
reading off a long list of negative side effects and unanswered questions often
associated with the practice. “For the record, no one has come before this
Council and stated they are against this ordinance, or are in any way in favor
of fracking.”

Levitan mentioned that the previous
evening, Estero’s Planning and Zoning Board had conclusively found that the
Ordinance before the Council met with the Village’s comp plan, and that Board
strongly recommended its adoption.

“Our vision statement says that we
will promote Estero’s quality of life by protecting the natural resources,
environment, and lifestyle,” Levitan continued. “The only way to protect this
quality of life in Estero is to ban this practice completely.”

Levitan finished by saying he didn’t
care if this ordinance would be overturned by the passage of HB 191 by the
Florida Legislature. “Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted on doing the
right thing, regardless of the potential consequences.”

“I would like to get this behind us,
and I would like to sleep tonight,” Councilmember Katy Errington said. “It’s
more about the water than it is about the gas and the oil. I’m honored to be
sitting in this position to be able to make a vote, and I intend to vote to ban

“We all have a purpose in life, and
perhaps this is our purpose,” Errington continued. “If this House Bill had
passed last year before we became a Council, we wouldn’t be here talking about
it. It would have been too late.”

While the ordinance passed in a
unanimous vote, Estero Mayor Nick Batos was more ambivalent about what the
ordinance would accomplish in the face of House Bill 191, which could preempt
any prior municipal fracking ban if it passes in the upcoming session of the
Florida Legislature. Batos main objection was passing an ordinance that could be
so easily overturned. However, he still cast his vote for it, saying that he
will act as a representative of the voters.

“It’s my responsibility to represent
the people,” Batos said. “I feel this may not accomplish anything, but I will
vote in favor of it because it’s what the people want.”

The Village Council made sure to get
a vote in on this ordinance as soon as they could, as HB 191 is likely to make
it to the floor of the State Legislature at some point during the next year for
a vote. While the Florida League of Cities is working with the Legislature to
temper some of the language that goes after home, there have been doubts that
there will be amendments to the language that undercuts home rule in the matters
of regulating what gas extraction techniques can be used in a city’s borders.

The House Bill was introduced by
State Representative Ray Rodrigues, who visited the Village Council to give a
presentation in support of the bill at a work session in November. A companion
bill was introduced for the State Senate by State Senator Garrett

HB 191 is titled as a “Regulation of
Oil and Gas Resources,” and in is described in brief:

“Preempts regulation of all matters
relating to exploration, development, production, processing, storage, &
transportation of oil & gas; declares existing ordinances & regulations
relating thereto void; provides exception for certain zoning ordinances; revises
DEP rulemaking authority; requires permits be obtained before performance of
high-pressure well stimulation; deletes provisions requiring Division of
Resource Management to get certain approval from municipal governing bodies;
requires division to consider additional criteria when issuing permits;
authorizes DEP to issue permits for performance of high-pressure well
stimulation; requires DEP to conduct study; requires applicants & operators
to provide surety; increases maximum amount for civil penalties; requires DEP to
designate national chemical registry as state's registry; requires service
providers, vendors, & well owners or operators to report certain information
to DEP; requires DEP to report certain information to registry; provides that
act preempts & supersedes certain regulations & ordinances; provides

Trent This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read 1386 times Last modified on Sunday, 31 January 2016 12:33

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