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Anti-fracking activists protest at Town Hall

Kile Brewer
Posted 1/17/18

ORANGE PARK – A group of concerned citizens gathered Jan. 11 to project a Bat Signal onto Orange Park Town Hall in hopes that a hero would come to their aid.

The group did not expect the dark …

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Anti-fracking activists protest at Town Hall


ORANGE PARK – A group of concerned citizens gathered Jan. 11 to project a Bat Signal onto Orange Park Town Hall in hopes that a hero would come to their aid.

The group did not expect the dark knight himself to arrive, instead they called for Sen. Rob Bradley(R-Fleming Island) to be their hero and vote to pass Senate Bill 462 during this legislative session, which would stave off fracking in the Sunshine State for another few months.

“Last year he supported it and voted in our favor,” said Doug Miller, the campaign leader at ReThink Florida Energy, at the Orange Park event. “This year it is more urgent that he do so.”

Miller spoke to the group, which eventually grew to more than a dozen or so Sierra Club members and those Miller had invited.

During his talk, he mentioned citizens in Calhoun County who would be on the front lines should fracking be allowed in the state. The rural county near Tallahassee has seen planning and zoning set up that would give fracking a greenlight should the state legislature decide to allow fracking, or more specifically, don’t want to ban that type of drilling in the state.

Fracking involves drilling into the earth where a high-pressure water mixture is injected at the layer of rock to release the gas inside. Workers then inject water, sand and chemicals into the rock at high pressure to force the gas to flow out of the well. Fracking uses millions of gallons of water per well, and the resulting waste water can never be returned to the aquifer for reuse, leaving Floridians with the burden of disposing of the contaminated water.

“For the folks in Calhoun County, this is as close to home as it can get, they are at ground zero,” Miller said.

“Sen. Bradley voted for the fracking ban in its first committee last year,” said Brooke Errett, Florida Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “However, he never scheduled a hearing in his own committee. We believe that the escalation of threats to Florida’s water and economy will strongly influence Senator Bradley to pass the bill through his committees. The in-district and statewide support for the bill show that this is the year to pass the ban.”

Last year, Burnett Oil Co. began seismic testing in the Everglades in search of oil reserves in Big Cypress Preserve. Under current state law, these companies could expand those operations to include the fracking process if the process is not banned.

Also speaking to the group was Northeast Florida Sierra Club Chair Janet Stanko, who is based in Jacksonville.

“I represent over 1,000 members who live in Sen. Bradley’s district, and I’m here today to support our message to Sen. Bradley to please be a hero,” Stanko said.

Stanko spoke to the fact that Bradley is the chair of the state senate’s environmental preservation and conservation committee, which is where the bill will first be heard and voted on before it heads to the senate floor. Other members of the Sierra Club joined Stanko and spoke on the potential for using solar energy in Florida to meet energy needs instead of drilling for fossil fuel-based products, such as oil, coal and natural gas.

As the formal presentations came to a close, Miller organized a group chant, ending with everyone that had shown up chanting at their top volume, “Ban fracking now!”