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Environment

Sen. Bill Nelson Says He'll Press Federal Agencies For Information On Oil Drilling In Florida

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Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told a group of local officials and activists Monday he’s going to press federal agencies to answer questions about oil drilling in Southwest Florida.

County officials and experts told Nelson they’re unsure how new oil extraction technology such as horizontal drilling and fracking will affect Florida’s unique geology.

Nelson held a meeting with local groups who have been concerned about an unauthorized fracking-like incident in Collier County a few months ago.

They told Nelson the federal government needs to provide more guidance. At issue is whether new technology being used in other parts of the country is even safe in Florida. The state is made up mostly of porous limestone.

Nelson said he’s very concerned oil drilling near the Everglades in particular will jeopardize restoration efforts.

“We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars in restoring the Everglades,” he said. “So, there’s clearly a federal interest here on behalf of the people of Florida and the United States and I intend to make sure that interest is protected.”

Jennifer Hecker with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said there needs to be more science and research conducted before advanced oil extraction methods are even approved in Florida. She said right now there is almost no information.

“Well, we’ve been struggling with the lack of information-sharing and engagement by our federal agencies in this issue,” Hecker said. “We hope that with the Senator’s involvement now that we can get those federal agencies more involved, more engaged, sharing more information with the public.”

Nelson said he’s waiting for word from the EPA.  A few weeks ago he asked the federal agency to launch an investigation into the fracking incident in Collier County.     

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