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Environmentalists Call On Governor To Ban All Types of Fracking, Not Just Some

Rally-goers lined up with signs Wednesday evening in Oakland Park to spell out their message for Gov. Ron DeSantis: "Ban Matrix Acidizing." The type of fracking uses acid to extract oil from underground.
Caitie Switalski
Rally-goers lined up with signs Wednesday evening in Oakland Park to spell out their message for Gov. Ron DeSantis: "Ban Matrix Acidizing." The type of fracking uses acid to extract oil from underground.

To mark Ron DeSantis's 100th day in the Governor's office, environmentalist groups gathered across several cities in Florida on Wednesday for a day of action to ban all forms of fracking, the controversial oil-drilling technique, in the state. 

A small group of about 20 people gathered in front of the state Department of Economic Opportunity in Oakland Park in the early evening to call on the governor to ban all forms of fracking, and not just some. 

"We can say it any one of a thousand different ways: we need to ban fracking," Susan Steinhauser organized the rally. 


Steinhauser volunteers for the advocacy groups Food & Water Watch and ReThink Energy Florida, part of a larger coalition called Floridians Against Fracking.

Both advocacy groups argue that, because of Florida's limestone foundation, any kind of fracking risks contaminating the state's drinking water supply. 

"We've got one planet and we need to protect it overall, in general," Steinhauser said. "But right now we're talking about humans, protecting us." 

Two bills currently moving through the legislature ( SB 7064and HB 7029) would ban two types of fracking but not a third type called matrix acidizing.

The matrix acidizing process injects acid into rock to extract oil, but at a lower pressure than the most common type of fracking, hydraulic fracturing. 

County Commissioner Dale Holness encouraged the small crowd that their actions - writing letters to the governor's office and calling representatives - can have an impact.

"There might not be hundreds here, but you are leading hundreds - thousands," Holness said. 

In 2015,  the Broward County Commission passed a resolution opposing all types of fracking. 

"We believe in this fight. We believe it's the right fight," Holness told the crowd.   

Some of the lawmakers who support the two bills argue that banning some or most fracking is better than no ban on the practice at all. However, rally-goer Ingrid Ayala isn't satisfied.

"I am concerned... it would leave so much open, like loopholes - areas for people to come in and do the matrix acidizing," Ayala said. 

Ayala came to the Oakland Park rally after she got out of work. And, instead of taking her 6 year-old daughter, Lia Bryan, to aftercare  - she brought her to the rally.  

Lia held up a hand-drawn sign with explosions on it, and asked to make a speech:

"I'm not old enough to vote yet," she told the crowd. "And I'm counting on all of you...because this is our air, our water, and our earth."

DeSantis has voiced support for banning fracking statewide, though has not specifically included matrix acidizing. His office did not respond to requests for comment at the time of this publication. 

Earlier this week however, DeSantis also voiced his support to keep offshore oil drilling out of Florida waters. 

Read More: The Trump Administration Wants Offshore Drilling In Florida. The Majority Of Floridians Oppose It

Rallies to call on DeSantis to ban matrix acidizing were also planned for Wednesday afternoon in Tallahassee, Port St. Lucie, and Sarasota. 

Steinhauser said if the legislature doesn't ban all forms of fracking this year, she won't give up.  

"What I would like is for this to consistently be on people's' radar every year. If it doesn't happen now - let it happen in the future," she said. "That's what I'm hoping."

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Caitie Switalski is a rising senior at the University of Florida. She's worked for WFSU-FM in Tallahassee as an intern and reporter. When she's in Gainesville for school, Caitie is an anchor and producer for local Morning Edition content at WUFT-FM, as well as a digital editor for the station's website. Her favorite stories are politically driven, about how politicians, laws and policies effect local communities. Once she graduates with a dual degree in Journalism and English,Caitiehopes to make a career continuing to report and produce for NPR stations in the sunshine state. When she's not following what's happening with changing laws, you can catchCaitielounging in local coffee shops, at the beach, or watching Love Actually for the hundredth time.