Opponents say the problem is a companion bill, House Bill 157, which would allow companies to withhold some chemicals used in the fracking cocktail if they were considered trade secrets.

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(PNJ.com) - A bill that would require oil companies to disclose the chemicals used in a controversial drilling process called fracking has hit a partisan brick wall, its sponsor says.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, doesn't think House Bill 71 will pass. The chilly reception is due to partisan politics in an election year, Rodrigues claims.

Fracking, formally known as hydraulic fracturing, is controversial because it involves injecting a well with water, chemicals and sand at high pressure to fracture rock and access untapped reserves of oil and gas.

Fracking is not occurring in the state now, but Rodrigues said his research indicates that fracking is a real possibility in Florida's future, particularly Southwest Florida. He wants the state to be prepared. Rodrigues' disclosure bill would put a regulatory process in place so the state Department of Environmental Protection can have a registry of chemicals, "should fracking take place in the state," he said.

When Rodrigues filed the same bill in 2013, it proceeded smoothly through legislative committees and passed the House by a large majority. However, the legislative session ended without the bill reaching the Senate floor.

Opponents say the problem is a companion bill, House Bill 157, which would allow companies to withhold some chemicals used in the fracking cocktail if they were considered trade secrets.

The energy industry says fracking is safe, does not put the water supply at risk, creates jobs, provides billions in revenue and will make the country energy independent.

Critics claim fracking threatens freshwater supplies because companies must drill 2 miles or more beneath the Earth's surface, passing through aquifers that supply fresh water on the way. Some of the fluid is recovered at the surface, stored in tanks or pits, recycled, injected into underground storage wells or taken to waste treatment plants.

The bills are confusing, said Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association.

"One bill calls for full disclosure and another one for exemption," he said. "On the face of it, having companies disclose the chemicals utilized is a good thing. Allowing companies to also hold back information is a bad thing."

Rodrigues admits the bill is contentious. But it falls in line with an existing state trade secrets law, as well as federal law, he said. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act has been adopted in some form by at least 45 states. Florida's law was adopted in 1988.

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