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Palm Coast Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016 4 years ago

City opposes fracking, votes to create new City Council workshop public comment period

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The city's resolution opposing fracking calls the practice "extremely hazardous" and calls on the state to take steps to ban it.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The city of Palm Coast does not want hydraulic fracking — a method of oil and gas extraction — taking place unregulated within its borders.

The city made its opposition formal Feb. 16 with a vote in favor of a resolution that calls fracking "environmentally unfriendly" and "an extremely hazardous practice" for the state, and calls for the state Legislature to "declare an immediate statewide moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing and acid fracturing and take steps to ban these practices in Florida."

The resolution also calls on the state not to enact any legislation that would prevent municipalities from banning fracking.

"According to Legislative committee analysts, the process carried out in each hydraulic fracturing well can require between one and seven million gallons of water at a time when state and local governments are being forced to develop costly alternative water supply sources to meet projected water needs throughout Florida," the city's resolution states. "The city of Palm Coast City Council ... is concerned about the potential pollution of natural aquifers and underground water reservoirs throughout the hydraulic fracturing process with hazardous waste byproducts that include acetic chemicals, carcinogenic compounds, and naturally radioactive materials."

The state legislation under consideration, Florida House Bill 181 and Florida Senate Bill 318, would generally bar municipalities from regulating fracking and seismic testing for gas and oil, with some allowances for zoning-related restrictions.

Public to get more chances to address officials

Also at the Feb. 16 meeting, the Palm Coast City Council decided to give residents more chances to address their representatives publicly, voting to create a public comment period during City Council workshops.

Previously, public comment had been held only during City Council business meetings, and not during workshops. The two forms of meeting alternate by the week.

City Councilman Bill McGuire suggested at a workshop Feb. 9 that the city let people speak at workshops, too, but initially recommended that comments be restricted to items on the workshop agenda.

Other council members questioned the need to restrict residents' speech to agenda items, and McGuire modified his proposal at the Feb. 16 meeting to allow for public comment on any topic. Speakers would still be restricted to 3 minutes, as is the case at City Council business meetings.

The council voted 4-1 for the public comment proposal, with Mayor Jon Netts dissenting. Netts said there are already numerous ways for people to contact their representatives without speaking at City Council workshops. 

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