Tallahassee, FL (January 8, 2018) – Florida Conservation Voters is pleased to announce its legislative priorities heading into the 2018 Florida Legislative Session.
“Florida voters are looking to the Legislature for environmental leadership,” said Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director. “People are more engaged than ever this year and already have their eyes on the November election. It would serve legislators well to listen to the people who elected them and ban fracking once and for all, increase Florida’s renewable energy independence, and dedicate funding to Florida’s premier land conservation program, Florida Forever. FCV looks forward to working with both our elected officials and voters as we enter the 2018 Legislative Session.”
FCV’s 2017 Legislative Priorities:
Florida Conservation Voters supports Senator Bradley’s SB 370 to fund Florida Forever at $100 million or more annually.
Florida Forever is the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. It has become a blueprint for conserving natural resources to strike a sensible balance between protecting our state’s natural resources and fueling future economic prosperity.
Florida voters overwhelmingly approved the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in 2014 to restore funding to the Florida Forever program, including its local parks counterpart, Florida Communities Trust. Until now legislators had all but ignored that mandate. But this year, Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) sponsored SB 370 to fund Florida Forever at $100 million annually. When introducing this bill in committee, Sen. Bradley explicitly acknowledged that the Legislature had failed to provide enough land acquisition funding, and as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he has the power to fix that.
SB 370 passed its first two committee stops unanimously and is now in the full Senate Appropriations Committee, also chaired by Senator Rob Bradley. As of now, there is no House counterpart, but it is speculated that Rep. Matt Caldwell (R-Lehigh Acres) and perhaps others will offer related bills in the coming weeks.
Florida Conservation Voters supports Senator Dana Young (R-Tampa) and Representative Kathleen Peters’ (R-St. Petersburg) fracking ban legislation (SB 462/HB 237)
Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of highly-pressurized water, usually mixed with sand and chemicals, deep into the earth to crack the rock and release oil or gas deposits. Another method – known as “matrix acidizing” – involves injecting acidic chemicals into underground rock formations, but at lower pressure, with the chemicals dissolving the rock (not fracturing it) to release oil and gas. All fracking techniques use a toxic chemical combination and produce large volumes of wastewater.
Spills and leaks resulting from the transport, storage, and injection of hazardous chemicals pose a serious threat of contaminating our drinking water and water resources. Nearly 75 percent of chemicals used in fracking have been proven harmful to the skin, eyes, respiratory system, and digestive system. Nearly half these chemicals also affect the immune, cardiovascular, and brain/nervous system functions, and a quarter cause cancer and congenital disabilities. In Florida, the risks that fracking and fracking-related activities pose to our state’s water supplies are too great.
We support Sen. Young and Rep. Peters’ bills to ban fracking in Florida once and for all.
As of now, neither Senator Young’s or Rep. Peters’ bills have been heard in committee. Senator Rob Bradley is the chair of the Senate bill’s first committee stop, and Rep. Ben Albritton is the chair of the House bill’s first committee stop.
Florida Conservation Voters supports Representative Holly Raschein’s HB 1133, which would provide grants to offset the costs related to onsite solar storage systems for certain facilities located in areas of critical state concern.
As we saw with Hurricane Irma, power outages can mean life or death for our vulnerable populations, including the sick and elderly. Rep. Raschein’s (R-Key Largo) HB 1133 would create a pilot program for state grants to help fund solar systems for emergency operations centers, shelters, hospitals and assisted living facilities to build our state’s resilience against hurricanes and other natural disasters where power outages are likely to occur.
Florida Conservation Voters believes this bill is a step in the right direction in ensuring our most vulnerable communities are protected when natural disasters strike.
As of now, HB 1133 has been referred to committees but is still in need of a Senate counterpart.