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House anti-fracking bill emerges

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A proposal backed by environmentalists to ban fracking in Florida was introduced Wednesday in the House, two days after a similar measure cleared its first Senate committee.

The proposal (HB 547) by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, seeks to ban hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

The proposal also would ban a process known as matrix acidization, which uses many of the same chemicals as in hydraulic fracturing but dissolves rocks with acid instead of fracturing them with pressurized liquid.

On Monday, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee unanimously backed a similar proposal (SB 200) by its chairman Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee. But it remains unclear how the proposals will fare during the 2020 legislative session, which starts Jan. 14.

Lawmakers did not pass similar bills during the 2019 session, with Republican leaders balking at the proposal to ban matrix acidization.

Other proposals that would have only banned hydraulic fracturing went further but did not ultimately pass.

Senate Agriculture Chairman Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, said Monday he hasn't seen enough change to warrant refiling the bill that would only address hydraulic fracturing for the 2020 session.

"Last session I feel like what we did made sense," Albritton said. "But I don't sense there's traction enough to move the ball. We still have the same members. We still have the same process."