As the U.S. continues its push to be less dependent on foreign oil, one particular kind of drilling is being criticized as going too far. And now that drilling is coming to South Florida. 7’s Patrick Fraser shows us why Florida is facing “Fracking Fears.”
WSVN — Florida is blessed with beautiful beaches, rich farmland and in the middle of it all, the one-of-a-kind Florida Everglades.
Frank Cummings: “This is beautiful country, and this is a beautiful environment.”
Frank Cummings is referring to the Big Cypress Preserve, a federal park that borders the Everglades. Home to gators, panthers and now the new home of oil drilling.
Joe Mule, President, Preserve Our Paradise: “This is an area that’s been targeted now for oil exploration by the Dan A. Hughes oil company.”
Joe Mule is the president of Preserve our Paradise, a group organized after they were stunned to learn oil drilling, better known as fracking, was planned near their homes.
Frank Cummings: “To me it’s a crime. They must be stopped.”
Technically it’s called hydraulic fracturing, a process where millions of gallons of water are mixed with chemicals, then blasted deep into the ground to pump out oil, in this case, underneath Big Cypress Swamp.
Joe Mule: “Thousands and thousands of gallons of acid are used to dissolve the calcium dolomite rock underneath in order to let the oil flow.”
Fracking has been blamed for causing big problems in other parts of the country. Just go on YouTube and look. Some residents in Texas saw flaming tap water. They say it’s because of the drilling near them.
Woman in clip: “Sometimes it will light up quite spectacularly.”
In Pennsylvania, homeowners say the fracking wells are responsible for killing animals.
Resident: “We lost dogs and chickens. We found out we had arsenic in our water and methane in our water.”
In Louisiana, fracking is being blamed for a giant sinkhole which continues to grow. Just watch.
In Florida, our water supply, which sits just below ground level, is especially vulnerable, which is why so many don’t want to see fracking come to Florida.
Joe Mule: “They will be using millions of gallons of water that we cannot afford, water from an aquifer that stretches all the way down to Miami-Dade County. People will die, animals will die, and it’s something that we need to stop.”
Joe Mule says the big concern is all those chemicals they use for fracking reaching the water supply.
Joe Mule: “So they pull out the oil, separate it on the premise, and then the toxic chemicals that are left — that not only carcinogenic, but they’ve been proven to cause birth defects as well — and put it back down into our aquifer.”
Frank Cummings: “And they say, ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s safe.'”
The proposed drilling site sits next to dozens of homes. Near panther crossing signs are new ones that say, “Don’t expand oil drilling in south florida,” and warning, “One thousand feet to ground zero.”
Oil companies have been drilling in the Everglades for years with no problems, but opponents say fracking is much riskier, and why would the U.S. government allow it in a national park?
You see, years ago the federal government bought the land to create the Big Cypress Preserve from the Collier family. The family kept the mineral rights, meaning they can drill for oil under the national park.
Joe Mule: “There’s no ifs, ands or buts that it will contaminate our drinking water.”
We contacted Collier Resources, owned by the Collier family, and the Dan A. Hughes Company, which is the first to be allowed to drill on the federal land. They didn’t return our calls. In the meantime, Preserve our Paradise is going to court to try to block the groups from drilling.
Dianne Rhodes: “Do we make sensible, smart choices or do we let them drill and take everything that’s left?”
Stop the fracking, they believe, or endanger the drinking water for every South Floridian.
I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.