Tallahassee, FL — Days after House Speaker Jose Oliva and Senate President Galvano announced support for bringing fracking ban legislation for a vote in both chambers, health professional organization Physicians for Social Responsibility/Florida released a letter to fellow public health professional Lt Governor Nuñez, urging her and Governor DeSantis to ensure the statewide fracking ban is implemented “swiftly and correctly.” The House Speaker and Senate President’s support for bringing fracking ban legislation forward came three weeks after Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-12, ordering the state DEP to “adamantly oppose” hydraulic fracturing.
“We call on the Administration to ensure that all forms of fracking are banned to protect the state’s underground drinking water sources and, ultimately, protect the health of Floridians,” said Physicians for Social Responsibility/ Florida Executive Director, Marybeth Dunn. “Dangerous drilling practices, including matrix acidizing, hydraulic fracturing, and acid fracking, could contaminate our aquifers with the toxic chemicals used in the fracking process.”
Florida is unique in that a vast majority of the state’s population gets their drinking water from underground sources. The Floridan and Biscayne Aquifers provide drinking water to 93% of the state’s population.
“The fracking industry has failed to show that it can be done without impacting the environment. It is the conclusion of science experts that the practice simply cannot be done safely. Executive Order 19-12 is a step toward banning this polluted and dangerous practice once and for all. We are counting on the Governor and the DEP to stand firm and ensure there are no loopholes in the rulemaking process that would allow the oil and gas industry to endanger our water and the health of all Floridians," said PSR/FL Board President Jefry Loyd Biehler, MD, MPH.
Lt Gov Nuñez’s extensive background in healthcare in South Florida led her to champion health issues. She has now become a champion on ensuring fracking is also banned since it poses an acute threat to residents in that region too.
A copy of the letter can be found here:
Dear Lieutenant Governor Núñez,
As fellow health professionals, we would like to thank you and Governor DeSantis for taking a stand to prioritize Floridian’s health and wellbeing by working to ban fracking statewide. Executive Order 19-12 is a great first step towards protecting Floridian communities and their clean water resources from the dangers associated with this risky extraction practice.
Those of us working in healthcare have a solemn duty under the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” and to safeguard our patients’ health. In March 2018 our national organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility, along with the Concerned Health Professionals of New York released the fifth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating the Risks and Harms of Fracking (the Compendium). The Compendium is a collection of hundreds of articles from peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals; investigative reports by journalists; and reports from or commissioned by government agencies detailing the immense dangers associated with fracking activities.
Below are just a few of the hundreds of risks identified in the Compendium:
- Babies born within a mile of fracking wells are 25 percent more likely to have low birth weights and more health problems
- People living near fracking wells were found to have a 1.5 - 4 times greater chance of suffering from asthma attacks
- A Yale University research team found that carcinogens involved in fracking operations have the potential to contaminate the air and water near fracking wells and may increase the risk of childhood leukemia
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s assessment of fracking’s impacts on drinking water resources confirmed specific instances of water contamination caused by drilling and fracking-related activities and identified the various pathways by which this contamination has occurred: spills; discharge of fracking waste into rivers and streams; and underground migration of chemicals, including gas, into drinking water wells. Florida has more available groundwater than any other state; it is the drinking water source for 93 percent of Florida’s population. Groundwater is also pumped to irrigate crops and provide frost protection to winter crops. Most of this water is held in the Floridan and Biscayne Aquifers, which provides drinking water to ten million people in both rural and urban communities, including residents of several major cities: Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Miami, and Tampa.
Given the immense dangers associated with fracking, it is crucial that Florida’s fracking ban be implemented swiftly and correctly. We ask that you ensure all forms of fracking are prohibited, including hydraulic fracturing, acid fracking, and matrix acidization.
Moreover, we ask that you and Governor DeSantis take the next step to enact a fracking ban immediately by directing the DEP Legislative staff to formally advocate in the legislature for passage of a comprehensive bill that bans all forms of fracking (hydraulic fracturing, matrix acidizing, and acid fracking) statewide.
Thank you again for your commitment to protecting the health and well-being of Floridians, Lieutenant Governor Núñez, and we look forward to working with you on this issue.
Jefry Loyd Biehler, MD, MPH
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Florida, Board President