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Florida counties fight state on fracking plan

| Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, 8:24 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Dozens of Florida cities and counties oppose a plan to give the state control over the oil and gas exploration process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Twenty counties and nearly 40 cities in Florida have passed regulations banning fracking, the Tallahassee Democrat reported Saturday. The cities and counties represent about 8 million people, or 43 percent of the state.

Two Republican legislators, Rep. Ray Rodrigues of Estero and Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples, have proposed bills that would give the state authority to regulate oil and gas exploration, production, processing, storage and transportation.

Local leaders say the move wrongly takes away their right to regulate activities in their areas and that fracking could harm the environment and hurt Florida's tourism economy.

The Florida Association of Counties' general membership voted unanimously in November to oppose the legislation. The association also voted in favor of a moratorium on fracking until independent and comprehensive studies are completed.

David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said Florida law is fairly clear that oil and gas should be regulated by the state. Mica said some fracking opponents don't want any oil or gas activity in Florida.

“I understand that point of view,” he said. “It's an extremist point of view because Florida has a long history and a positive history of exploring for and producing oil and gas. We've done it since the '40s, and we need to do it in the future. And we need to do it in ways that are protective of Florida's environment.”

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