South Dade News Leader: Levine Cava Seeks to Ban Fracking in Miami-Dade

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An ordinance banning fracking has passed an initial committee hearing at county hall.

The legislation was brought forwarrd by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, who represents parts of South Dade, and would regulate and/or prohibit the well stimulation method of gas and oil exploration, commonly known as fracking.

There is a way to receive a variance, but it would require a public hearing and a positive vote from the board of County Commissioners.

Judging by the passionate response this ordinance got from the public last week in its preliminary form, a public hearing would be a daunting hurdle to jump over.

“This shouldn’t be just atheoretical ordinance, there is a proposed well site in Broward that possibly possesses a threat to the Miami-Dade water. They [the oil companies] are looking for sites in South Florida,” Jorge Aguilar warned at the public hearing.

Levine Cava thanked the crowd for showing up, showing passion, and making a compelling case.

“This commission has stood solidly behind the state ban,” Levine Cava said when addressing the dais.

She also acknowledged the situation in Southwest Florida where the oil and gas industry have set their targets on, and possibly even more of the South. She called the possibility “chilling.”

“This risk, the potential long term damage can not be compromised for the short term gain of a few,” said Levine Cava.

In it’s current form, the ordinance will serve as the rules in unincorporated parts of the county, and as a minimum standard for the incorporated portions.

The new article it creates is specifically for gas and oil exploration that utilizes well stimulation. Usually such tactics employed are a protected trade secret, and so no specifics in chemicals or methods are traditionally made public. And so the wording is broad while still specifically describing fracking.

It is described as “a well intervention, exploration, operation, or maintenance procedure performed by injecting fluid, which may include additives, into a rock formation to increase the rate of production at an oil or gas well by increasing the flow of hydrocarbons from the formation into the wellbore.”

But the ordinance does chiefly cite the “health, safety, welfare, comfort and convenience” of the county residents and their property rights as the driving force behind the steps.

The legislative findings state that potential impacts of such fracking would impact properties well past the immediate vicinity, possibly causing structural damage to buildings and foundations.

While variances are a possibility, they would only be granted if a hardship is shown by the literal enforcement of the regulations. Meanwhile the variance must be simpatico with the spirit of the ordinance and not result in harm to the land.

Fracking in Florida would mean using acids and chemicals said Levine Cava, and it could “pose a threat to the drinking water.”

Then of course it must be granted with a public hearing attached to it.

“I wanted to thank you all for your leadership. The ordinance passing last week sent a message to the state legislature,” said Pete Gonzalez who spoke during the public hearing. “It has no place here, and we already have enough threats to our drinking water.”

Moms Clean Air Force, Interview: Daniella Levine Cava, Miami’s Dade County Commissioner

This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Daniella Levine Cava, Miami’s Dade County Commissioner:

Daniella Levine Cava and family.
Daniella Levine Cava and family.

What is unique about protecting Miami-Dade’s resources and environment?

Miami-Dade is uniquely located between two national parks – Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. Our ecosystem is beautiful, but also life-sustaining. The Everglades recharges our aquifer, providing us with fresh water, and Biscayne National Park is an important part of our economy, for example supporting fishing and tourism. To protect ourselves we must protect our environment.

As a parent are you worried about the effects of climate change on your children and the children of Miami-Dade County?

Yes, I am definitely concerned about the effects of climate change on future generations. (Tweet this) This is why I am a “Water Warrior” and I fight so hard from my position on the County Commission to address sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, protection of our drinking water, Everglades Restoration and recharging of our aquifer.

Why is a bipartisan effort so important and how can these efforts be achieved in our politically polarizing culture?

All of us are affected by the quality of our air and water and by the effects of climate change. We should therefore be united in protecting our natural resources. In local government here in Miami-Dade we have nonpartisan seats, so this should give us an opportunity to focus on policy and not politics.

Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?

I would like them to know that the only way change happens is when the community is engaged in a partnership with government. We need active constituents to propose solutions and to educate others about issues that affect them.

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