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Richard Corcoran pulls the plug on FPL fracking bill for session

Fracking AP (1)Senate President Joe Negron put his clout behind Florida Power & Light’s quest to have Florida customers pay for natural gas fracking projects in other states. But while his hometown company's top priority, SB 1238, is scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor, House Speaker Richard Corcoran has decided that's as far as it will go.

Corcoran last week referred the House version of the bill to the House Commerce Committee which will  no longer be meeting. But the Senate bill could have brought the issue back to life. Now, Corcoran tells the Herald/Times, that won't be happening. 

“After thorough vetting and discussion, we just had  too many reservations about the issue and the potential consequences,'' Corcoran said in an email. "In addition, the notion that Florida ratepayers would pay for out-of-state energy production was not in the best interests of the people of Florida.”

In addition to Negron, the measure had the backing of Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, as well as Republicans in both chambers. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has accepted $581,275 in contributions from FPL since July 2015, also endorsed the idea. 

The legislation would have overturned a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year that found the Public Service Commission exceeded its authority when it gave FPL permission to charge customers up to $500 million for investing in an Oklahoma-based fracking company in 2015.

Consumer groups opposed the measure, arguing the policy will cost FPL customers millions, reward FPL with profits with no guarantee of a return on investment, and lock the state’s largest utility into an increased reliance on fossil fuels for decades to come.

FPL countered that because much of the natural gas that Floridians use today already relies on hydraulic fracturing, investing in production in other states was akin to hedging its purchase of out of state fuel. 

Photo: Associated Press