Friday, October 17, 2014

Groups Demand End of Everglades Oil Drilling, Fracking And Fix Water Problems

© Green Med Info
Green Med Info | Oct 15, 2014 | Dr. Karen Dwyer

Citizens draw the line against new oil drilling in Greater Everglades after unauthorized fracking threatens water supplies and triggers county and state lawsuits; they call on Scott to shut down all new Everglades oil drilling and update state regulations to 1) ban fracking and all forms of extreme extraction, 2) set a one mile buffer zone from drill site to family home, 3) secure DEP stronger enforcement powers, with significant penalties and fines.

NAPLES, FL—The Stonecrab Alliance, Food & Water Watch, Clean Water Initiative, and ReThink Energy Florida are organizing an "It's All About the Water" march to Governor's Rick Scott's beachfront home starting at 4 p.m., Saturday, October 18, beginning at the Naples Pier.  The groups intend to shut down new Everglades oil drilling and fracking and urge Scott to fix a broad range of water problems in Florida.  By land and by sea, participants will march on the beach and paddle from the Naples Pier to the Governor's beachfront home.  Banners, signs, and flags will spell out concerns.  Solidarity Fish from the east coast will make visible the need to send clean water south from Lake Okeechobee.

Participants will bring their own "troubled waters" samples in containers marked with location and date to vividly show the variety of water problems Florida faces from drilling, fracking, the BP oil spill, Lake Okeechobee water releases, and more.  In the Governor's beachfront backyard participants will deliver their troubled waters, enjoy music, participate in a water blessing from the Miccosukee Otter Clan, and listen to speakers.  Speakers will map out solutions for water problems such as banning new drilling and fracking, cleaning toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges, sending clean water south to restore the Everglades, curbing agricultural and industrial run-off, denying permits for gas-fired power plants and pipelines, investing in clean, renewable energy to curb sea-level rise and climate change.  Closing with a candlelight vigil and wish lanterns, they'll invite everyone, from legislators to land barons, to partner with them in saving Florida's waters and Everglades.

The march follows fast on a milestone victory for citizens — after unauthorized fracking threatened water supplies and wetlands.  Faced with fines, penalties, protests, and lawsuits, Dan A. Hughes has abandoned all plans to explore for oil in Florida.  The Texas oil company terminated its 115,000 acre lease while the state revoked all its permits and filed a lawsuit for clean up.  This means 115,000 acres in the heart of the Everglades, some, only 1000 feet from homes, has been saved from drilling and fracking.  Most significantly, the proposed drill site that had placed 30 families in an Emergency Evacuation Zone has been turned into a watermelon field.  Although citizens are still celebrating the shutdown of Hughes, the company has countersued the state and other oil companies have leased an additional 330,000 acres so the struggle for the Everglades and clean water escalates.

Governor Scott's support of the oil industry has fueled the expansion of new drilling in Florida.  Residents and environmentalists say they don't want another Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill—with its long chain of documented misjudgments, operational failings, and oversight mistakes.  They want to protect the aquifers that supply Florida with its drinking water and save the watersheds that sustain wetlands.  "It's about our water," they say.  Accidents happen.   Over time pipes leak.  Injected chemicals surface.  And even cement casings fail.  One accident could ruin a community's aquifer.  The risks are too great and benefits, too small.  Drilling is not in the public interest—especially not in Florida since its limestone geology sources the state's drinking water and is extremely porous and highly susceptible to groundwater contamination.  A sign sums up the problem: "Can't Clean up an Aquifer:  Don't Drill."

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