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"Fracking" Bill Ready For State House Vote

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - Amid opposition from environmental groups, a bill about oil and natural-gas drilling, which includes a controversial method known as "fracking," is headed to the full House.

On Thursday the House State Affairs Committee approved the measure which was sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, from Estero, and Rep. Cary Pigman from Avon Park.

The bill would set up a regulatory framework for oil and gas drilling, which has long occurred in parts of Southwest Florida and Northwest Florida.

much of the debate has focused on whether the bill would set the stage for the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and whether the state should prevent local-government regulation of drilling. Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Tampa Republican who spoke in support of the bill, said it would place regulations on fracking.

"Fracking is currently legal in Florida, and the bill is going to place guidelines on it,'' Harrison said.

However critics contend that fracking poses threats to the environment and to people's health and questioned the need for drilling as oil prices have dropped. David Cullen, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, said there are "better ways to get the energy Florida needs" without exposing the state to the risks of fracking.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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