Surely this is the best news I’ve heard since the Gators fired Ron Zook…yes it’s been a while. To give you a quick backgound on the story, hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is illegal in Florida (if you want to know more about this process, see my post “What the Frack”). To sum it up, the process involves drilling deeply into the ground, where unknown chemicals and tons of water are injected with great pressure to break shale and release “natural” gas. This process is known to leak harmful chemicals into our ground water, surface water, and millions of gallons of our potable water, which, subsequently becomes unusable. Additionally, fracking is causing earthquakes throughout the US and overseas (Italy is suffering big time!), as well as random explosions (near Columbus, OH last week). This is NOT a process we want anywhere near the Everglades.
Well this D-bag… I mean, this “man” from Texas, named Dan A. Hughes, whose company is modestly named after himself, owns some land on the outskirts of the everglades in Big Cypress Swamp. He decided to go around the law, and, without a permit, preformed an “enhanced extraction procedure” to proceed with exploratory drilling. The company denied this to be hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on the basis that they used an “acidic solution”, instead of the usual fracking chemicals, and a “mostest” volume of water and sand…whatever that means. And, wait ’til you hear how this process works:
- They still start by drilling a well, just like regular fracking
- They still use a ton of water
- Instead of cracking open shale, they dissolve the rock by shooting HydroFlouric Acid into the ground…YES, HydroFlouric Acid! The same exact stuff that Walter White and Jessie Pinkman used to dissolve dead bodies in the show “Breaking Bad”…that really, REALLY bad stuff!
I would assume that this “acid fracking” is probably worse than regular ole fracking, but, unfortunately, I can’t tell you for sure because the fracking chemicals are kept secret!
So this guy, who is the chair of Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, mind you (poor Austin has to be stuck in that state), proceeded to acid frack, even after the Florida Department of Environmental Protection told him to stop and also slapped him with the maximum fine of $25,000 for unauthorized actions. As the Orlando Sentinel paper states,
“For this transgression the Florida DEP fined the company $25,000 for “unauthorized actions,” apparently the maximum civil penalty under Florida law, and also ordered that a preapproved expert monitor groundwater contamination in the area. On May 2, the state banned Hughes Co. from beginning to drill five other wells for which permits had been secured until further review is complete, to which the company agreed.
Of the situation, Hughes Co. spokesman David Blackmon told the Orlando Sentinel the company is “confident the results are going to show that the groundwater hasn’t been negatively impacted” and that “its operations do not pose a threat to contamination,” saying that “the way these wells are constructed, there are multiple layers — five layers of concrete and heavy steel — that prevent any of the fluids going through the well bore from contacting the groundwater formation.”
Ok, so, the bad guy comes in, and the good guy fails to stop him; so what happens next? Well, after a long legal battle, Dan A. Hughes’ company’s permits were revoked, he has been stripped of his authority to operate within the state of Florida, and he is being sued for $100,000 (really FDEP? That’s like peanuts to this guy!). So, the bad guy, unfortunately, wasn’t completely thrown out of “The Sunshine State” and sent back to where he came from (seriously, our state has enough screwballs… seriously though…), but at least he can’t hurt Florida’s people, wildlife, or water sources anymore.