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Could Florida Become the New Fracking Frontier?

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Florida frackingDisney. The Everglades. Migrating Birds. Tourists. Fracking?

Fracked wells and impoundments were once a far-fetched possibility in Florida, but soon they could be hitting close to home.

As industry interest in bringing fracking to the Sunshine State intensifies, environmental groups worry about risks ranging from contaminated groundwater, disruption to some of the county's most bio-diverse ecosystems and aquifers sucked dry.

"The camel's nose is in the tent," said Mary Jean Yon, legislative director at Audubon Florida, which has started a petition opposed to hydraulic fracturing (otherwise known as fracking) in Florida. "We know there is an interest."

A state House panel earlier this month OK'd two bills that would require the industry to report chemicals used in fracking. In a partisan 8-4 vote, the two measures passed through the majority Republican House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, as state legislators grapple with the potential of Florida becoming the Fracking Frontier.

In Collier County - less than 1,000 feet from the Big Cypress drainage basin and in the middle of the Florida panthers' remaining Everglades habitat - Dan A. Hughes Company has applied for a wastewater injection well permit, according to Florida Department of Environmental Protection documents. The Beeville, Texas-based company is leasing the underground mineral rights from Collier Resources Company, which owns or manages more than 800,000 acres of mineral rights in three counties in Southwest Florida.

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