On Monday, Audubon Florida stood strong against the bill that would allow drilling on state lands, SB 1158. Audubon Florida’s Director of Wildlife Conservation Julie Wraithmell testified against the bill, but unfortunately in a 10-4 vote, the bill passed the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities. Before the vote, the committee adopted a vague amendment to the bill that seemed to narrow the scope of the proposal, but offered little on specifics. Audubon will continue to monitor this bill closely as it moves through the legislative process. Next stop: the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.
Senators on the energy committee repeatedly asked where drilling could occur if the bill passed. [Senator] Evers said he didn't have a list of those state lands or a map.
The committee on Monday adopted an amendment by Evers to allow the partnership agreements only on state lands whose management plans have been amended by the state Acquisition and Restoration Council to allow drilling.
Opponents said there already is a process in state law that allows companies to seek lease arrangements with public lands agencies. Opponents included Audubon of Florida, Sierra Club Florida, Clean Water Action and the Everglades Foundation.
"I will say land management plans are changed regularly," said Julie Wraithmell of Audubon of Florida. She said the bill "leaves the door open to look at other property to amend those plans, to expand it [drilling] to other locations."
Stay tuned for more information or for ways you can help. During the final weeks of the Legislative Session, issues move quickly and often with little warning. Bookmark this site for the latest on how you can make a difference.