Water-Related News

Bonita Springs fracking ban triggers backlash

Environmentalists and local leaders are lining up against legislation that would take away local community zoning power over oil drilling, a proposal that even proponents say is a response to proposed bans on oil fracking such as the one passed in Bonita Springs over the summer.

It is a battle that appears destined to be fought on two grounds, the right of local communities to decide land use issues and the environmental debate over fracking.

A bill filed earlier this month by state Sen. Garrett Richter and state Rep. Ray Rodriques gives the state sole authority to regulate oil exploration, drilling and recovery. It would wipe out city or county power to implement zoning rules covering drilling for oil or natural gas.

The restriction, a version of which was proposed last year, comes in response to what Rodriques sees as an effort by local governments to "expand their jurisdiction as a platform" for fracking foes.

In July, Bonita Springs enacted a ban on fracking, a process of breaking rock far beneath the ground to extract oil and gas. The Estero Village Council is considering taking up a similar ban.